JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN/WNCT) – The Onslow County sheriff said a volunteer search will be held this morning in an effort to find 3-year-old Mariah Woods.
The FBI and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office said more resources, including law enforcement horses and search boats, were added to the search teams out in Jacksonville Thursday.
Those wishing to help should arrive at the Dawson Community Church between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., Sheriff Hans Miller said.
“We’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support and help on this case,” he added.
The church is located at 2311 Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville.
The searches could last 4 to 6 hours. Volunteers should bring a valid ID to register to help.
“We have to stand together with our community to bring her back and find out what happened,” Miller added.
More than 100 interviews have been conducted since Mariah went missing and that law enforcement officials were working 140 different leads in the case.
“More than 225 investigators, agents and other law enforcement employees are working around the clock with one goal in mind,” Miller said. “That goal is to find Mariah and bring her back home.”
A dive team was called out on Thursday to search a creek near N.C. 17, about a mile from Woods’ home.
A dive team was also called out Wednesday afternoon to help aid in the search for Woods. The team was searching a pond off High Hill Road in Jacksonville.
Authorities were also seen going door-to-door in the area and talking to neighbors.
Another new development in the search came about earlier in the morning Wednesday regarding photos that were released after midnight from a WalMart in Morehead City. The FBI and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office released photos with a small blonde girl and an unknown woman and were trying to figure out whether the child in the images was the missing girl.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office confirmed around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday that the pictures were not of Mariah Woods and that the unknown woman is not connected to the case.
“No information is too small or insignificant when looking for a missing child,” the FBI wrote in a news release. “If you have any information to identify the adult and child in this image, please call the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at 910-455-3113.”
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.
Pastor Cliff Wilson of Folkstone Original Free Will Baptist Church said part of the extended family is part of his church family.
“They’re having some rough moments,” he said. “They’re doing all that they can do. And they feel helpless.”
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.”
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.
Click here to download the new-and-improved 8News App