3-Year-Old Girl Who Vanished from Family's Home in N.C. Was Killed by Chloroform Toxicity

A North Carolina man already in custody in connection with the death of his girlfriend's daughter, Mariah Woods, has been charged with the child's murder

A North Carolina man already in custody in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter has now been charged with the child’s murder following the completion of an autopsy and additional testing, PEOPLE confirms.

Mariah Woods was killed by chloroform toxicity, the Onslow County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear how, exactly, Mariah is suspected of coming into contact with the substance.

(Chloroform has historically been used as an anesthetic, and the image of a chloroform-soaked rag used by criminals to incapacitate others still appears in popular culture.)

Authorities announced the new charges against Adolphus Earl Kimrey II, 32, nearly two months after Mariah vanished in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Mariah was reported missing on Nov. 27, authorities have said. Her remains were found by a dive team less than a week later, on Dec. 2, in a creek in nearby Pender County, North Carolina.

Kimrey — then the live-in boyfriend of Mariah’s mom, Kristy Woods — was arrested on Dec. 1 and has been in custody ever since. He was initially charged with concealing a death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property.

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National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The sheriff’s office said in a news release on Wednesday that the additional charges had been “pending the completion of the autopsy and other forensic lab analysis.” The autopsy was finished on Dec. 4, and the chemical and toxicology tests were completed and sent to local authorities on Monday.

In addition to first-degree murder, Kimrey was also charged with felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury or death.

“These additional charges do not mean the investigation is concluded but [we] will continue until all leads and information is thoroughly evaluated,” the sheriff’s office said.

Kimrey was set to appear in court later Wednesday on his new charges, the sheriff’s office said, but it was not immediately clear if he pleaded to them. It is not known how he pleaded to the previous charges in Mariah’s death. He remains in custody without bond.

Kimrey’s attorney could not immediately be reached by PEOPLE and sheriff’s officials were unavailable to comment on Wednesday night.

“The death of a child is always a sobering reminder of how fragile life is,” Onslow Sheriff Hans Miller said in the news release. “When the community is so deeply affected by such a horrific crime it is sometimes difficult to not allow our emotions to influence the decisions that we make. However, the best way to honor Mariah is to ensure a fair and thorough investigation, which will lead to a successful prosecution.”

“We must remember that through these moments, together, as a community we can ensure that justice will be delivered for Mariah,” Miller continued. “We sincerely thank the community for their patience and support through this entire investigation.”

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Mariah was reported missing about 6:45 a.m. on Nov. 27, officials said. Woods, her mom, said she last saw the girl the previous night before they went to sleep.

“My last memory of her was feeding her and putting her to bed,” Woods told a local TV station. “I told her I loved her and she loved me.”

When authorities initially arrived at the family’s home, they found no indication that an outsider had forced entry. According to a police report, there were five people in the house the night she disappeared: In addition to Kimrey and Woods, Mariah and her two older brothers were also present.

In its news release this week, the sheriff’s office said Woods “has been cooperative with the investigation and continues to cooperate with the detectives as the investigation continues.”

Onslow County Sheriff's Office

According to Kimrey’s arrest report, Woods told authorities that “the last time she saw her daughter was around 11:00 p.m. [on Nov. 26] when she went to check on her.”

Woods also said that “her live-in boyfriend checked on the toddler again when she woke up, and told her to go back to sleep. Woods went to check on her the following morning, but alerted authorities at around 6 a.m. when she couldn’t find her.”

Mariah’s father, Alex Woods, said he learned about the news of his daughter’s disappearance when he heard an AMBER Alert announced on the radio. He said he was shocked to hear Mariah’s name.

“It’s unreal. It’s a nightmare,” Alex told local TV station WCTI soon after his daughter went missing. “You hear about this stuff all the time, but you never think it’s going to happen to you or your kids.”

Prior to Kimrey’s arrest, Alex said he was suspicious of the circumstances around his daughter’s disappearance.

“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?” he said. “Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids, someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, at 910-455-3113, or Crime Stoppers, at 910-938-3273.


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