600 turn out to join search for missing Mariah Woods

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WNCN/WNCT/AP) — Friday morning, 600 volunteers showed up to help search for missing North Carolina toddler, Mariah Woods.

Volunteers came from as far away as Raleigh, Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said, and some had to be turned away.

The 3-year-old was reported missing from her home on Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, NC on Monday.

Residents of the area have conducted their own searches as authorities have instructed community members to search wooded areas, barns, and sheds for the girl.

Community efforts have included a volunteer sign up at Haws Run Fire Department, which is separate from the official search on Friday, and Facebook pages have also been created.

Marjorie Langlois, a grandmother from out of town, drove several miles to add her name to the list of volunteers because of her own grandchildren.

“I have a three-year-old and four-year-old grandchild and I’d appreciate any help I could get if something was to happen,” said Langlois.

The search has been contained to Onslow County, according to FBI supervisor Stanley Meador. He specifically mentioned the Verona and Southwest areas.

Earlier Thursday, a dive team was called in to search a creek off Highway 17 in Jacksonville. Meador would not say if searching the creek was due to a tip or just a part of the general search.

New technology and tactics were also implemented as part of the search’s fourth day.

As far as technology, authorities placed scanners, which can take photos and detect footprints, in the yard of Mariah Woods’ home.

“Items of interest” in the Mariah Woods case have been taken to an FBI lab in Quantico for analysis, an FBI official said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Law enforcement from Wilmington and New Hanover County were also checking the area on horseback, which they said allowed for greater visibility and let them access places they could not reach otherwise.

Authorities also asked anyone who was in contact with Mariah’s family Sunday or Monday to call law enforcement, and they have been going door to door talking to neighbors about Mariah.

On Wednesday afternoon, a dive team was called in to search a pond off High Hill Road in Jacksonville.

The road was blocked off from Dawson Cabin Road to Verona Road.

Throughout the course of the search, investigators have used everything from drones, helicopters, and K9 units in the attempt to find Mariah.

“Every second counts when a child is missing, especially after the cold night we just had,” said Hans Miller, Onslow County Sheriff. “A detailed timeline is crucial in helping us find this little girl.”

Family members say Mariah shouldn’t have been able to get far because of an orthopedic leg problem, which causes her to wobble while walking.

Tommy Cloyd, an independent living coordinator with the Disability Advocates & Resource Center, said going as long as she has without any help, especially in the cold, is dangerous.

“She wouldn’t have her support, her braces and things of that nature,” said Cloyd. “I think after 24 hours, it would kind of start to get to her. I don’t know if she takes medication of any kind, but I am sure by this point, she needs something.”

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.”

Woods said she woke up Monday morning and noticed her daughter was missing from her bedroom. Woods said the last time she saw her daughter was around 11:00 p.m. Sunday when she went to check on her.

Family members said there was no sign of forced entry or anything wrong with Mariah’s room but did mention the back door was unlocked. Once they realized Mariah was missing, Woods and her live-in boyfriend called authorities.

Mariah’s grandmother said due to her grandaughter’s walking issues, she can’t imagine her wandering off. The family also said Mariah would not have left with a stranger.

The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office checked with Mariah’s biological father but said he does not have the girl.

The girl’s two older brothers were in the house when Mariah disappeared but are both safe.

Mariah’s mother describes her as their “little angel, with a goofy, outgoing and talkative personality.”