PHENIX CITY, Ala. — A man suspected of abducting and killing a 5-year-old Georgia girl has a history of child abuse, including accusations he killed another child in Alaska, authorities said.
Jeremy Tremaine Williams, 37, of Columbus, is charged with capital murder in Alabama, where the body of Kamarie Holland was found Monday night. The girl was found in a vacant house where Williams once lived in Phenix City.
She appeared to have died of asphyxiation, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said Tuesday at a joint news conference with Columbus police and a Russell County prosecutor.
“It’s a sad time to have to speak about a 5-year-old. We’re having to work a case on a child who absolutely did nothing wrong,” Taylor said.
Rick Chancey, chief deputy district attorney for Russell County, described the case as “horrific” and said if the “facts continue to unfold” as they have thus far, his office would seek the death penalty against Williams.
“I would ask that the community’s thoughts and prayers remain with this family because this is a horrific experience that they’re going through,” Chancey said. “The information they are learning about what Kamarie went through is just awful.”
Kamarie was reported missing in Columbus early Monday morning. According to authorities, the girl’s mother called 911 about 6:15 a.m. to report that she awoke to find her daughter gone and the front door of the home open.
Taylor said that the girl lived in Columbus with her mother, Christie Hoskins. The girl’s father, Corey Holland, lives in Phenix City.
Detectives in Columbus developed Williams as a suspect, though Taylor did not say why or how. According to authorities, he is an acquaintance of Hoskins, but they were not in a dating relationship.
The Georgia investigators reached out to their counterparts in Alabama after receiving information that Williams might be in Phenix City, which is directly across the state line.
“We began working with CPD at that time and it wasn’t long after that when we located Mr. Williams at the Bamboo Motel on Opelika Road,” the sheriff said.
Motel employees told deputies that Williams and his uncle, who was also staying there, had arrived about 30 minutes before the investigators.
Meanwhile, detectives had received information that Williams once lived at 1001 15th Ave. in Phenix City but that the house was now vacant. Though it is across the state line, the empty home is less than 8 miles from where the missing girl was abducted.
“Agents went to that address, and it was at that time that we found the body of Kamarie Holland,” Taylor said.
Kamarie appeared to have been asphyxiated, but an autopsy was being conducted to confirm the cause and manner of death. Taylor added that detectives are hopeful that DNA evidence will be found on the girl’s body.
“It did appear from the scene that there was some sexual abuse,” he said.
Because Kamarie is believed to have been slain in Alabama, the case will remain in Russell County.
Taylor said Williams has a long history of being accused of abusing children. He faced multiple charges in 2009 in Russell County but was ultimately acquitted of the charges three years later.
Details of those accusations were not immediately available.
Watch Tuesday’s news conference below, courtesy of WRBL-TV in Columbus.
He also had previous child abuse charges in Columbus. The outcome of that case was unclear Tuesday.
“And then we have information where he was a suspect in a 1-year-old’s death in Alaska, where he was a suspect but never charged,” Taylor said.
That case could not move forward due to a lack of sufficient evidence.
The sheriff said he is confident that authorities have arrested the right person in connection with Kamarie’s death. Few details of the evidence have been made public due to the timing of the ongoing investigation.
Assistant Columbus police Chief Joyce Dent-Fitzpatrick commended investigators both in her own department and within the Russell County Sheriff’s Office for their hard work and collaboration. She echoed what Taylor said about the lack of information being released at this time.
“Like the sheriff said, this is an early-on investigation,” Dent-Fitzpatrick said. “For obvious reasons, we cannot disclose a lot of details about it.
“But the No. 1 priority is getting closure for this baby who was taken away from us at this time of year.”
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