Authorities intensify search for missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods

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Thursday, November 30, 2017
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More crews are joining the search effort for missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods.

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. -- The search for missing Onslow County 3-year-old Mariah Kay Woods has now entered its fourth day.

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Missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods

The latest:

* FBI Lab in Quantico, VA is testing items of interest
* Volunteer search to be held Friday, people should arrive at Dawson Community Church between 8 a.m. - 9 a.m.
* Search focused solely on Onslow County but officials are following up on all tips

Authorities searching for the missing toddler are asking residents to search their properties for anything "out of the ordinary" in the hope that someone will come forward with information that leads them to the little girl, whose disappearance in Onslow County Monday prompted an Amber Alert that has gained national attention.

The FBI said Thursday that it is testing "items of interest" at its lab.

Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller is urging the public to comb through their properties meticulously for "any clues," including wooded areas or "outbuildings" such as sheds or barns.

A team from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is headed to North Carolina to help in the search efforts.

On Wednesday, a North Carolina Wildlife pickup with a boat was seen near the search site where authorities have a road blocked off.

Officials confirmed to ABC11 that they are searching an area that contains a body of water.

RELATED: Timeline of events in Mariah Woods' disappearance

Dozens from the shaken community surrounding Mariah's home turned out Wednesday night for a special prayer vigil at Folkstone Original Freewill Baptist Church. Some of the toddler's extended family members are members of the church.

"They're having some rough moments," said Cliff Wilson, Folkstone's pastor. "They're doing all that they can do and they feel helpless. As a small community that we are, we got to all stick together in this."

Earlier Wednesday, the FBI released surveillance photos of a woman and a little girl who matched Mariah's description, in hopes of identifying the pair.

The FBI later said the woman in the picture did not have any connection to their ongoing investigation to find Mariah.

WCTI spoke with a 23-year-old Newport, North Carolina woman Wednesday who said she was the woman pictured in the surveillance photos.

Jetta Long revealed that her daughter was born with a shortened leg, so she said she understood how her little girl could have been mistaken for the missing toddler.

Mariah Woods' family has said that the 3-year-old struggles to get around on her own and wears leg braces for assistance.

Mariah has been missing since Sunday night when her mother put her to bed.

Woods lives with her mother and her mother's live-in boyfriend on Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

Her biological father Alex Woods told WCTI 12 Tuesday that he found out his daughter was missing when the Amber Alert was issued and he hasn't seen her for about a year. He said he doesn't believe his daughter was abducted.

WATCH: Raw video of emotional interview with Mariah's biological father

"Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the 3-year-old out of the bed and she didn't cry, she didn't scream?" Alex Woods said. "Nobody heard anything? Four people in the house, two adults and two kids, someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?"

WATCH: Officials give update on Mariah's case

ABC News reports that her mother reached out to the public in an emotional plea Monday.

"Please, bring her back ... She's my baby, she's my everything," said Kristy Woods in a press conference. "(I) just to be able to touch her and hold her and not let her go again. I'd give anything."

She is described as a white female standing about 2' 9" tall and weighing around 30 pounds. Mariah has brown hair and blue eyes.

Mariah Kay Woods
image courtesy WITN-TV

The FBI is assisting state and local law enforcement with the investigation; they have brought in the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment for further assistance.

Marines based at nearby Camp Lejeune are also assisting in the search.

Authorities said they have been using all means necessary to find Mariah including ground searches assist by a helicopter and K-9 units. So far, officials have covered 100 acres.

Officials said more than 225 state and federal personnel are working on the case, adding that they have conducted nearly 100 interviews and followed up on more than 140 leads.

They said no information is too small or insignificant when looking for the missing child. Those with information are asked to call (919) 455-3113.