Suspect in death, disappearance of Mariah Woods appears in court

Mariah Kay Woods

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The man charged in the disappearance of a 3-year-old Jacksonville girl appeared before an Onslow County judge Monday morning.

Earl Kimrey. (WNCN Photo).

Earl Kimrey, 32, appeared briefly in court Monday morning wearing handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit marked Onslow County Detention Center.

A judge asked whether he understood his rights and the charges against him. Kimrey said he did. The judge also told Kimrey an attorney has been appointed to represent him, but that he has the right to hire his own attorney if he wishes to.

Neither the defense nor the prosecution moved to alter Kimrey’s bond, which was set by a magistrate at $1,010,000.

Kimrey is next due in court Dec. 18.

As Kimrey sits in jail, the community is still coping with the loss of Mariah Woods.

Less than 10 miles from the courthouse is a makeshift memorial that reads “Sweet Baby Mariah — we love you!” People are traveling near and far, some leaving notes, others stuffed animals and balloons.

Related: Deputies recover body they believe is NC toddler Mariah Woods

Many say they want justice for Mariah, saying that Mariah is loved, not only in this community, but across the state and even country as her story spreads.

“She touched everybody. Not just North Carolina, but everybody, and because of that she ended up becoming everybody’s child. She was our child,” said Onslow County resident Bonnie Fuleki.

Arrest warrants obtained by CBS North Carolina report Kimrey, who was Wood’s mom’s live-in boyfriend, obstructed justice by, ”removing Mariah Woods’ body from the scene of her death and did conceal Mariah Woods’ death and body, knowing that Mariah Woods died from unnatural causes. The defendant acted with deceit and intent to fraud.”

In the warrants, officials claim Kimrey “secretly disposed of the dead child’s body.”

Additionally, records say Kimrey broke into a home on High Hill Road and stole two dressers around the time of the toddler’s disappearance.

Woods’ body was found in a creek in Pender County on Saturday.