Local News

Crews enter fourth day in search for missing Onslow County girl

Posted November 29, 2017 2:12 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— As officials and investigators in Onslow County move into Day 4 of the search for Mariah Kay Woods, 3, the community continues to rally together in hopes of finding the girl safe.

Mariah's mother told the Onslow County Sheriff's Office that she last saw her daughter at their home, at 2404 Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, on Sunday night when she put her to bed.

She called the sheriff's office around 6 a.m. Monday to report her missing.

Mariah is white with light brown hair and blue eyes. She is about 2 feet, 9 inches tall and 30 pounds.

Since Monday, an army of volunteers and law enforcement have flooded the area near the home to look for Mariah. A person wearing a protective suit was also seen searching under the home.

As the search for Mariah continues, many around the community are turning to prayer.
“We needed to do something special,” said Pastor Cliff Wilson of Folkston Original Free Will Baptist Church. “They are having some rough moments. They are doing all they can do and they feel helpless.”

Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller asked that the public help with the search, urging anyone who has had contact with Mariah's family since Sunday to call his office. Anyone interested in leading a volunteer search can sign up to do so at a nearby fire station, officials said.

During a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Miller said authorities have conduced more than 100 interviews, and have followed more than 140 leads in the search for Mariah. Miller also urged the public to search their yards and outbuildings.

"If you have a shed, a barn, a wooded area, go take a look," he said. "Call us immediately if you see something out of the ordinary."

Authorities have not said much about the investigation, but said they do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the general public.

"Any particulars about what we find, what we did not find, that is going to be close hold. We are not releasing it to the public at this point," Miller said. "We believe this is a focused incident at this point."

Mariah's father, Alex Woods, said that while his daughter is living with her mother right now, the last few days have been extremely hard.

"Like hell. Like a nightmare. This ain't true. I mean, really," he said. "I hope and pray that I can get my daughter and hold her again. Tell her that I love her and to see the rest of my kids and be a family. I got to think the best."

Woods said it is hard to describe how he is feeling.

"It's just so overwhelming. I don't know how to put it into words," he said.

The FBI shared images overnight from a Morehead City Walmart of a woman and child who appeared to be about the size and description of Mariah. After a few hours, it was determined the woman and child had no connection to the case.

"It is extraordinarily rare for a stranger abduction, someone to come into a residence simply for the sole motivation of taking an infant child," said retired FBI agent Greg Baker, who is not involved in the investigation into Mariah's disappearance.

Anyone with information about Mariah is asked to call the Onslow County Sheriff's Office 910-455-3113 or call 911.