Missing North Carolina three-year-old Mariah Woods vanished seemingly without a trace from her home in Jacksonville late Sunday night. That was the last time the toddler was seen by her mother’s boyfriend; the bright-eyed little girl was officially reported missing to authorities mere hours later on Monday morning. The current working theory is that three-year-old Mariah Woods was stolen or otherwise from the home she shared with her mother Kristy Woods and mother’s boyfriend, despite there being no indications of forced entry (the home’s back door was, however, unlocked) – both local authorities and the FBI have become involved in the search for the toddler, although (as CBS News reports), father Alex Woods disputes the validity of his child’s mother’s claims.
According to her father Alex, it’s highly unlikely that Mariah Woods could have been taken from her home without detection.
“Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the three-year-old out of the bed and she didn’t cry, she didn’t scream? Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?”
What’s more, three-year-old Mariah reportedly suffers from an “orthopedic leg problem” that makes walking difficult for her, which means that she likely wouldn’t have wandered out of the home of her own free will. Her personality, adds family members, would likely have prevented the toddler from voluntarily leaving with a stranger.
Local investigators have kept details of the troubling case close to their chests, with Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller refusing to publicly state how he believes little Mariah Woods went missing in the first place. However, authorities have publicly refused to rule out any theories regarding the little girl’s vanishing. According to Miller, neither he nor his department is willing to rule anything out, adding that the cumulative focus is to bring Mariah back.
“Our focus right now is to bring her back, and then to find out what happened. In that effort to bring her back we would not rule out any possible situations that may have occurred. Our minds our open, our ears are open, and our eyes are open.”
Since her disappearance, Mariah’s mom, Kristy Woods, has tearfully pleaded for her toddler’s safe return. Despite the toddler’s emotional appeal, authorities and volunteers are still seeking clues that might lead them to the whereabouts of little Mariah.
“Please, bring her back. I love her. I’ll do anything that I can, whatever you want. Please just bring her back safe and sound – she’s my baby, she’s my everything.”
So far, neither public attention to her case nor her mother’s impassioned pleas have successfully located little Mariah Woods. Even a seemingly viable lead involving an alleged sighting of Mariah in a Morehead City Walmart has been proven to be false, effectively leaving investigators back at square one. Regarding the sighting, investigators believed that they’d spotted Mariah Woods and an unidentified adult female in Walmart surveillance video. It was later determined that the child in question was not Mariah, but Sheriff Miller refused to apologize for the misidentification.
“No information is too small or insignificant when looking for a missing child.”
Days after Mariah Woods’ disappearance, drones and K-9 units swarmed the wooded area near her home, while local authorities confirmed to local media that they would be requesting volunteers to aid the search effort in and around the toddler’s mobile home park. Investigators wearing hazmat suits could also be seen checking out the spaces underneath trailer homes – to no avail.
While local authorities, with the aid of the FBI, are working tirelessly to bring little Mariah home, social media is percolating with rumors of the toddler’s fate. At least two social media users, both claiming to be locals, claim that the deceased remains of Mariah Woods have already been found. At least one Facebook user claims that Mariah was found deceased, although “they” don’t know who killed the toddler.
On Twitter, it’s much of the same. According to Crowd Source News (@CSNCrowd), little Mariah Woods has already been found deceased. In that “news outlet’s” version of events, the toddler was accidentally killed by her mother’s boyfriend. Despite the rumors, little Mariah’s fate hasn’t been officially confirmed by investigators. Indeed, local law enforcement is begging the public for help in the case, with a goal of bringing Woods home safe and sound.
According to investigators, over 200 professionals from over a dozen state and federal agencies have conducted nearly 100 interviews and followed more than 140 leads since Mariah vanished. What’s more, Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller has encouraged locals to search their own real property, including barns, sheds, and wooded areas. He’s also requested that anyone who has been in contact with Mariah’s family to get in touch with investigators.
At this time, investigators refuse to publicly address whether or not anyone in the family (or close to) Mariah Woods is a suspect in the toddler’s disappearance. When asked whether or not those closest to the three-year-old are being cooperative, Miller cryptically spoke of “talking to them” while they are “talking to us.” The sheriff added that his people are working 24/7 to bring Mariah home safely.
“We’re talking to them, they’re talking to us.”
North Carolina authorities and the FBI are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Mariah Woods. Anyone with information regarding the location of the missing toddler is asked to call 911, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at 910-989-4070 or Crime Stoppers at 910-938-3273. There is a cash reward of $2,500 offered for information deemed “of value or assistance” in the case.