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Family of missing North Carolina woman Kiara Wiggins hoping husband's arrest in connection to stealing a car will help lead to answers

The 39-year-old’s husband, Carl Wiggins, was arrested on June 23 for allegedly stealing an SUV and leading authorities on a multi-county car chase.

Three weeks have passed since Kiara Wiggins, 39, was last seen on June 9, 2021, at the Roseboro, North Carolina home she shares with her husband of 12 years, Carl Earl Higgins. She’s still missing and her family is still without answers. Her husband, who police wanted to interview regarding Kiara’s disappearance, was arrested on June 23 following a multi-county car chase on unrelated charges of allegedly stealing a car.

Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton told NBC affiliate WRAL that last week’s arrest of Carl Wiggins is just the beginning of his investigation, adding it also means authorities are one step closer to finding Kiara.

“We don’t ever lose hope,” Sheriff Thornton said. “We continue to do what we have to do.”

Kiara Renee Wiggins

Kiara’s older sister Judy Murray told Dateline their family became worried when they could not get in touch with her for several days earlier this month. Known to her loved ones as “Booboo,” Kiara is described as a family-oriented, happy person. And she was always good about answering her phone or at least quick to return a missed phone call.

So on June 18, when her family still hadn’t heard from her, they filed a missing persons report with the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.

“We just miss her, we need her home,” Judy told Dateline. “Rain, sleet, snow, whatever, we're coming, honey. We're going to find you.”

Judy told Dateline the family also confronted Kiara’s husband, but said he refused to answer their questions.

“I said, ‘Where's my sister?’” Judy told Dateline. “He said, he tells me, ‘She's with some friend.’ I said, ‘Well, tell me the friend so I can contact them to get my sister.’ And then he just blew up.”

Kiara’s husband, Carl Wiggins, is considered a person of interest in his wife's disappearance, Sheriff Thornton told WRAL after the arrest.

A press release issued by the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office stated it was believed Kiara was in danger and that her husband was being sought for questioning in the disappearance, as well as on warrants in connection with a vehicle stolen out of Bladen County.

During the investigation, it was discovered that a black 2003 Ford Excursion had been stolen in Bladen County, according to the release. Investigators believed the theft was committed by Wiggins on June 17.

Investigators had warrants on file for Carl Wiggins on charges of felony larceny and possession of a stolen vehicle. They also wanted speak to him regarding his wife’s whereabouts.

On June 23, the the chase started when police officers in Johnston County noticed a vehicle that matched the description of the one stolen from Bladen County.

When authorities attempted to pull over the vehicle, the driver sped off leading police into Sampson County, back through Johnston County before ending in Wake County. The chase ended in Wake County after spike strips were deployed, causing the suspect’s vehicle to crash into a construction barrier on I-40, according to the sheriff’s office.

The driver, identified as Carl Earl Wiggins, jumped out of the SUV and ran into the woods. He was captured by police after a short foot chase.

Sheriff Thornton told WRAL that the SUV Wiggins had been driving was a 2003 Ford Excursion reported stolen from Bladen County on June 17 - the day before Kiara was reported missing.

Wiggins was taken into custody and faces several charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, fleeing/eluding arrest with a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen automobile and misdemeanor probation violation.

Now, with Carl Wiggins in custody, Kiara’s family is hoping for answers.

But Sheriff Thornton told WRAL that Wiggins isn’t cooperating with their investigation into Kiara’s disappearance and they still don’t have answers on where she might be. Investigators continue to scour 962-square miles of the county, with specific locations in mind, but did not want to disclose the areas at this time.

Sheriff Thornton said investigators are also relying on witnesses and help from the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. He said he’s hopeful to find Kiara alive, even without her husband’s help.

“Until we find the body dead or alive, we got to have hope that we'll find her alive,” he said.

Kiara’s family told Dateline they are overwhelmed, but still hoping for a miracle as they continue to search for Kiara and plead with the public for information.

“I'm sure she's not with us no more, but let us find her body and put her at rest,” her sister Judy told Dateline. “We're looking. Baby girl, we're going to find you one way or the other. One way or the other, baby girl, we're looking.”

Kiara is described as being 5’8” tall and weighs about 205 lbs. She has black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on Kiara’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Sampson County Sheriff's Office at (910) 592-4141.