US & Canada

Mother's boyfriend charged in missing US toddler's death

the suspect Image copyright CBS
Image caption A maksehift memorial has been erected nearby to the family's home

A North Carolina man accused of withholding information from police about the death of his girlfriend's missing toddler has appeared in court.

Earl Kimrey, the live-in boyfriend of the child's mother, was charged with concealing a death, obstruction of justice and theft, among other crimes.

Three-year-old Mariah Woods was reported missing on 27 November after her mum put her to bed at their home.

Police dive teams have recovered what they believe is the child's remains.

A judge left 32-year-old Kimrey's bond at $1m (£742,000) at his hearing in Jacksonville on Monday.

Prosecutors did not reveal any new details about the case and Kimrey's lawyer said nothing in his defence.

Image copyright CBS
Image caption The suspect appeared in court on Monday

Medical examiners have not yet positively identified the remains, but investigators say they are confident that it is the toddler.

"We put every resource we have into finding Mariah, to bring her home safely," FBI agent Stanley Meador said on Saturday after remains purported to belong to the girl were found in a creek about 25 miles (40km) from her home.

"Sadly, it was too late to save Mariah.

"The focus of this investigation has changed from a missing child to a homicide case," the agent told reporters, adding that any homeowners with surveillance cameras near the Woods home should share their video with authorities.

Image copyright CBS
Image caption Mariah Woods, 3, was last seen in bed at her home in Jacksonville

More than 700 volunteers had been looking for the girl as part of a massive search effort involving local, state and FBI authorities before the remains were found. The girl's mother, Kristy Woods, had also made an emotional plea for her daughter's return.

FBI joins search for three-year-old girl

Kimrey was taken into custody by Onslow County authorities on Friday and charged with concealing a death, obstruction of justice, second-degree burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property.

He allegedly "failed to notify a law enforcement authority of the death of Mariah Woods, and secretly disposed of the dead child's body", according to the arrest warrant.

Police have not yet said how Mariah died.

Kimrey's next court appearance is on 18 December.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionChild dies in US 'every five hours'

Neighbour Nelson Bolster told WNCT-TV News that he had lived across the street from the Woods family for over 40 years.

"It is just devastating," said Nelson Bolster. "I mean, you don't know what to say about it."

"I've seen her out and about a little bit, I mean running around like a happy little girl," he said.

"Just full of life bright little girl, kind of like my little daughter when she was that age."

More on this story