JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- A woman's live-in boyfriend was charged Wednesday with murder in the death of her 3-year-old girl, who North Carolina police say died of chloroform poisoning.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office said in a news release that 32-year-old Earl Kimrey was charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse in the death of Mariah Woods, whose body was found Dec. 2 in a creek in Pender County. She had been reported missing from her home on Nov. 27.

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Mariah's mother, Kristy Woods, has said she last saw her daughter when she put her to bed the night before she called 911 to report her missing. Investigators have remained tight-lipped about the investigation, but FBI agent Stanley Meador said last month, "It was too late to save Mariah the moment the 911 call came in."

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When Mariah was reported as missing, Kimrey told authorities that Mariah got up after Woods was asleep and was sent back to bed, the news release said. He also said that he left the door unlocked when he left the home for a short period of time, the release said.

Authorities said Wednesday that Woods has cooperated with the investigation.

State medical examiners performed an autopsy Dec. 4 and returned chemical-toxicology testing results on Monday, the news release said.

Kimrey previously had been charged with lesser crimes, including obstruction of justice and concealing a death. Those charges alleged Kimrey removed the girl's body from the place where she died and knew her death was not natural.

Authorities charged him just 16 hours before Mariah's body was found in a creek in Pender County about 25 miles from the home Mariah shared with Kimrey in Jacksonville.

A first-appearance court hearing was scheduled Wednesday afternoon for Kimrey, who's being held in the Onslow County Detention Center in Jacksonville without bond. His attorney, Walter Paramore, didn't immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment. His office said he was in court.

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