Kamarie Holland went missing from her Columbus, Georgia, home Monday before police found her remains that night across state lines in Phenix City, Alabama, according to authorities.
“I definitely think the motive was a sexual encounter,” Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said during a news briefing on the case Tuesday, adding that the suspect had been eyed in at least three other cases with child victims.
Investigators identified her suspected killer as Jeremy Tremaine Williams, who has a record of child abuse allegations in multiple states. Police arrested him at the Bamboo Motel in Phenix City, about 9 miles from the girl’s home.
By Tuesday afternoon, he found himself standing before an Alabama judge.
During the court appearance, a public defender assigned to the case requested and received a gag order from Judge David Johnson, according to the Columbus-based WRBL.
Now Williams is being held at the Russell County Jail without bond, officials there said.
Taylor said deputies found Kamarie dead from asphyxiation in an abandoned home where Williams once lived in Phenix City.
“It did appear from the scene that there was some sexual abuse,” he added.
The results of an official autopsy were pending, and the sheriff said investigators hoped to recover DNA evidence.
Russell County Coroner Arthur Sumbry said Tuesday evening that he expected to have forensic findings available before the weekend.
Kamarie’s mother told police she woke up around 5:50 a.m. Monday and discovered her front door was open — and her daughter was gone, Taylor said. She reported her missing to the Columbus Police Department in Georgia, and officers there zeroed in on Williams, who had ties across the state line.
“This started in Columbus, and it ended in Phenix City,” the sheriff said.
Alabama prosecutors are charging Williams with capital murder and Taylor said that additional charges against other suspects could be forthcoming.
Williams’ uncle was also present at the hotel when deputies made the arrest, but investigators do not believe he was involved, the sheriff said.
The murder suspect had been acquitted of child abuse charges in Alabama in 2012, the sheriff said. The outcome of separate charges in Georgia were not immediately clear. State records show that a man with the same name currently has charges pending for alleged battery and child cruelty in connection with an incident in August 2021.
“And then we have information where he was a suspect in a 1-year-old death in Alaska, where he was a suspect but never charged because [investigators were] not able to get enough evidence in that case,” Taylor said.
However, he is not a registered sex offender. The investigation remains ongoing.
“It’s a sad time to have to speak about a 5-year-old,” Taylor said. “We’re having to work a case on a child who absolutely did nothing wrong.”
If convicted, Williams faces a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole, according to Russell County Chief Assistant District Attorney Rick Chancey. The maximum sentence would be the death penalty.