AMBER Alert: More than 700 volunteers show up to search for Mariah Woods
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Around 700 volunteers showed up on Friday to search for missing 3-year-old Mariah Woods, according to Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller.
The FBI and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office said more resources, including law enforcement horses and search boats, were added to the search teams out in Jacksonville on Thursday.
Hundreds of volunteers showed up Friday morning at the Dawson Community Church in Jacksonville to help with the search.
By 9 a.m., the sheriff’s office said they had reached max capacity for volunteers.
“We are overwhelmed by the public’s support to help us #FindMariah. Unfortunately, we have run out of room for any additional volunteers. We will need to cut off the arrival of any additional volunteers for today’s search. We understand you may be disappointed, but if people continue to show up, it would delay or interfere with the work we are trying to do,” the sheriff’s office wrote on their Facebook page.
Richard Alt, with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, was on hand to help organize and conduct the search.
Alt said there were at least 60 teams of 10 people each scouring Onslow County for “things of interest,” but said they weren’t looking for anything in particular, just anything that “stands out.”
Alt said that it’s “pretty common to ask the citizens to help,” especially since “the citizens want to help.”
He also said that searchers will be in Onslow County for the “long-term.”
“We have a large area, it’s heavily wooded in many places. It takes hours to get through it,” said Alt, of the search area.
Miller said the volunteers will be pulled out of the woods by 4:30 p.m.
One volunteer who spoke with WNCT said they felt obligated to help.
“This is right in my backyard and I just felt like you gotta show your support, bring the community together and support this family and bring this family home,” said Anna Fyfe. “Until she’s found, I will always keep faith that she’s gonna come home and everything will be well.”
Fyfe said the support for the family she’s seen has been “absolutely fantastic.”
“To see all these people out here supporting is just absolutely fantastic. It makes me feel good that I live in such a great community,” she said. “I know if this was my child out here missing, I’d want every bit of help I could get.”
Another volunteer, Diane Braxton, said it’s important for those whose children are safe to be thankful.
“If you’ve got children that are safe and sound, be thankful that you have them. Hug your kids, kiss them, no matter what, because you never know when it might be you.”
Miller said that a few items were flagged by volunteers on Friday, but they are not believed to be related to Woods’ disappearance, but they did find “items of interest” Thursday afternoon.
There has been no further information provided on the evidence found.
“We have to stand together with our community to bring her back and find out what happened,” Miller added.
More than 100 interviews have been conducted since Mariah went missing and that law enforcement officials were working 140 different leads in the case.
“More than 225 investigators, agents and other law enforcement employees are working around the clock with one goal in mind,” Miller said. “That goal is to find Mariah and bring her back home.”
A dive team was called out on Thursday to search a creek near N.C. 17, about a mile from Woods’ home.
A dive team was also called out Wednesday afternoon to help aid in the search for Woods. The team was searching a pond off High Hill Road in Jacksonville.
Authorities were also seen going door-to-door in the area and talking to neighbors.
Miller said that there are no further volunteer searches scheduled at this time.
Deputies are asking anyone with information on the girl’s whereabouts or who has had contact with the girl’s family since Sunday to call them at (910) 989-4070.
...[READ MORE] Source: WNCN Durham County News