Mariah Woods: More than 700 volunteer to search for missing girl

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — More than 700 volunteers showed up Friday morning to search for missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods, so many that the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office had to turn some away.

The toddler was last seen Sunday night by her mother, who woke up Monday morning and realized her daughter was missing.

Authorities called for the search at a news conference Thursday afternoon, asking community members to gather at Dawson Community Church before searching the dense woods surrounding Mariah Woods’ home on Dawson Cabin Road.

While a few items were tagged during the search and sent to a lab at Quantico, FBI supervisor Stanley Meador said they don’t yet know if the items are relevant. A batch of items sent to Quantico on Thursday are still being processed. You can see an aerial look at the search in the video below.

The FBI said they sifted through 95,000 pounds of trash, by hand, looking for clues.

Authorities were also back out by a bridge over a creek on U.S. 17, the same creek dive teams searched on Thursday.

The New Hanover Sheriff’s Office provided underwater sonar for investigators to use.

“As far as the search, we continuing to access and re-access the areas that we have searched,” Meador said. “Some areas we are researching, we’re making sure we are covering every area possible in this Verona Southwest area with the search team, whether it be by foot, water, boat or mounted patrol.”

Onslow Sheriff Hans Miller said at Friday’s news conference they will assess the areas covered to get a better understanding if additional public searches are needed.

For community members who volunteered for the massive search party, it was the first chance they received to actively search for Mariah.

“I have two granddaughters,” said Diana Braxton, a search party volunteer. “One is eight and one is nine. I can almost imagine what they are going through. If it were me, and it was my granddaughters, I would want somebody to help me find them.”

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