JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN/WNCT) — Authorities said Wednesday morning that photos released after midnight from a WalMart in Morehead City do not show the missing 3-year-old North Carolina girl who’s the subject of an AMBER Alert.
Local authorities and the FBI were trying to figure out whether the child in the images is the missing girl, but the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office confirmed around 9:45 a.m. that the pictures are not of Mariah Woods and an unknown woman.
The pictures themselves were found as a result of information provided by the community.
On Tuesday, authorities asked the public to call in tips and said the sooner the better.
“Every second counts when a child is missing, especially after the cold night we just had,” said Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said. “A detailed timeline is crucial in helping us find this little girl.”
A number of agencies, including the FBI, are assisting Miller’s office in the investigation.
Drones and helicopters have been supplementing ground searches. On Tuesday, the FBI issued an official missing person poster for the girl, Mariah Woods.
Mariah’s mother checked on her about 11 p.m. Sunday, she said. The mother woke Monday to discover the girl missing.
Family members said there was no sign of forced entry or anything wrong with Mariah’s room. The back door was unlocked, they said.
Mariah is about 2 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 30 pounds. She has blond hair and blue eyes.
Family members said Mariah has an orthopedic leg problem, so when she walks her left leg is thrown around and causes her to wobble.
Kristy Woods, Mariah’s mother, is pleading for her daughter to be returned safely.
“I’ll do anything that I can, whatever you want,” said Woods. “Just bring her home please safe and sound. She’s my baby. She’s my everything.
Among the searchers looking for Mariah on Tuesday was Mike Caley, assistant chief at the Haws Run Rescue Squad.
“When you can’t find what you’re looking for, it kind of hurts you in your heart, because you don’t have closure,” he said.
Caley’s group used an all-terrain rescue unit — basically a souped-up ATV — to search.
“We went in there driving around and looking for some things that might be out of the ordinary,” he said.
He added, “You don’t really know where to go look, and you just know you got to go out there and look.”
Authorities aren’t saying much publicly about their investigation. Deputies are asking anyone with information on the girl’s whereabouts or who has had contact with the girl’s family since Sunday to call them at (910) 989-4070.