JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI announced Saturday that an arrest has been made in the disappearance of 3-year-old Mariah Woods.
Woods’ mother first reported her missing Monday morning. After several days of searching, officials said they arrested the mother’s live-in boyfriend, 32-year-old Early Kimrey and charged him with multiple offenses, including concealing a death, obstruction of justice and burglary.
FBI officials said in a release Saturday that they have evidence to believe Mariah is deceased. Her body has not been found.
The agency is transitioning from search operations to recovery operations, officials said.
Officials said more than 700 people came Friday to join the search for the toddler. Dozens had to be turned away.
Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said that volunteers came from as far away as Raleigh, which is 120 miles southeast of Jacksonville.
It was the fifth day of the search for the girl, but officials said no new clues were found.
On Thursday, Miller called on civilians to join law enforcement officers in the land and air search for the toddler. Miller said authorities will look at anything found and decide whether they need to look in another area.
The FBI said it has been sending “items of interest” to its lab in Quantico, Virginia, for priority testing in the case. A statewide Amber Alert has been issued for the girl.
The sheriff said Wilmington Police Department officers and e New Hanover County Sheriff’s deputies were searching on horseback, and boats from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries were in on the search.
Woods’ mother, Kristy Woods, told WITN-TV in Greenville that she last saw her daughter at about 11 p.m. Sunday when she checked on her. She said her boyfriend saw the child at about midnight when she got up and he told her to go back to bed. Once they realized she was missing, the couple said they called authorities.
She made a plea for the girl’s safe return Monday night.
“This is my world. This is my angel,” the mother said. “She was sent to me for a reason. This is my everything besides my boys, the love that I have for this girl.”
The investigation has the support of more than 14 agencies, Miller said. Officials have conducted 100 interviews, followed more than 140 leads and had the assistance of more than 225 investigators working around the clock.