JACKSONVILLE, NC — As the search for a three-year-old who disappeared from her home in North Carolina intensifies, her father has questioned his ex-wife’s account of the night their daughter apparently went missing.
Mariah Woods’ mother, Kristy Woods, said that she last saw her daughter at approximately 11 P.M. on Sunday night when she put her to bed at the family home in Jacksonville. She stated that her live-in boyfriend saw the child at around midnight when she got up, and that he told her to go back to bed.
At around 6 A.M. Sunday morning, the couple said that they realized that Mariah was missing from the home and called police.
Mariah’s father, Alex Woods, who does not live with the child or her mother, told WCTI-TV Tuesday he did not believe his daughter was abducted.
“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?” he 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?”
Woods said that he and his ex-wife have had custody issues in the past — and that he has not seen Mariah in about a year.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued for Mariah, and search crews combed the area, but so far have found nothing.
A potential lead in the case was thrown out after investigators confirmed that a woman spotted in a Morehead City, North Carolina, Walmart on Monday with a toddler who looked like Mariah had no connection to her. But Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller has stated that investigators are not ruling out any possibilities.
He said, “Our minds our open, our ears are open, and our eyes are open.”
On Wednesday, Miller said crews that included 225 investigators and agents from 14 local, state and federal agencies have conducted nearly 100 interviews and followed more than 140 leads.
Miller asks residents of the community to search their own properties including sheds, barns, and wooded areas, and also appealed to anyone who had been in contact with the girl’s immediate family on Sunday or Monday to reach out to investigators. Kristy Woods said her daughter is a “very sweet girl” who has trouble walking.
Anyone with information about the child’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division at (910) 989-4070 or Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273. Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $2,500 for information deemed “of value or assistance” in the search.
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Main photo: Mariah Woods [FBI]