North Carolina Amber Alert search reaches Day 4; law enforcement focusing on creek

U.S. & World

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN/WNCT) – A dive team has been called in to search a creek off Highway 17 in Jacksonville, North Carolina as part of the search for Mariah Woods.

A section of the road is blocked off, and deputies are are directing traffic.

New technology and tactics have been implemented as part of the search’s fourth day.

As far as technology, authorities placed scanners in the yard of Mariah Woods’ home.

Deputies were also seen checking the area on horseback, which they said allowed for greater visibility and let them access places they could not reach otherwise.

The last official update from authorities took place at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, held by officials with the FBI and NCIS along with Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller. At the news conference, they asked community members to search wooded areas, barns, and sheds for the girl.

They also asked anyone who was in contact with Mariah’s family Sunday or Monday to call law enforcement.

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

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

Authorities were also seen going door to door in the area and talking to neighbors about Mariah.

The 3-year-old is the subject of an Amber Alert after she was reported missing from her home on Dawson Cabin Road on Monday.

Early Wednesday morning, authorities released photos of a woman and child at a Wal-Mart in Morehead City in an attempt to determine if Mariah was the girl in the photo.

Around 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the girl was not Mariah.

The photo marked a rare window of hope in a search that has so far been short on new information.

The search began Monday.

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

Stick with WNCT online and on-air as we bring you the latest developments on this story.

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