On Saturday, the body of the missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods was found by officials in a body of water. The girl was reported missing on Monday morning by her mother, Kristy, who was frantic after waking up to her daughter’s empty bed in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
In the following days as law enforcement searched diligently for the girl, Kristy made a desperate plea to get her daughter back safe during a press conference, saying:
“Please, bring her back … She’s my baby, she’s my everything. Just to be able to touch her and hold her and not let her go again. I’d give anything.”
Police soon released a nationwide Amber alert asking people across the country for their help in finding the girl — and one of those people was Alex Woods, Mariah’s father.
Kristy told officials the last time she’d seen her daughter was when she fed her and and put her to bed Sunday night. Then, around 6 a.m. on Monday, her daughter had disappeared.
But Mariah’s father had a hard time believing that, telling WCTI something wasn’t adding up around the story:
“Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the 3-year-old out of the bed and she didn’t cry, she didn’t scream? Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids, someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”
Alex said he hadn’t seen Mariah or her two brothers in over a year because of custody rights. He told WCTI he was previously granted custody of his kids for a month after Child Protective Services launched an investigation into Kristy, but he hadn’t seen them since the incident.
— FBI Most Wanted (@FBIMostWanted) November 28, 2017
Now, he’s telling WRAL that every week his daughter had been living with her mother was “like hell, like a nightmare” for him.
After the arrest of Kristy’s live-in boyfriend on Friday, it’s clear why Alex felt that way. Earl Kimrey was taken into custody Friday; he was charged with obstruction of justice and concealing Mariah’s death. It’s unclear exactly how Kimrey is involved in Mariah’s disappearance and death as police aren’t releasing any details yet, but his arrest warrant shed some light.
According to WCTI, one warrant states Kimrey did not notify authorities after Mariah died and tried to get rid of her body. It also said Kimrey knew Mariah didn’t die of natural causes.
The second warrant then charged Kimrey with larceny, breaking and entering, and possession of stolen goods. WCTI reported the second warrant states Kimrey broke into a home in Jacksonville after 11 p.m. on Sunday and 3:30 a.m. on Monday and stole two dressers.
As for now, the investigation has left people with more and more questions; police aren’t releasing any information on Mariah’s death or Kimrey’s involvement while the investigation is still open. People do, however, now know the girl’s father had known Mariah’s situation wasn’t good but he, like many parents, could not afford a lawyer to do anything about it.
Custody rights is a continuously growing issue in the U.S. and, sadly, 3-year-old Mariah seemingly lost her life because of it.