On Wednesday night, community members in Jacksonville, North Carolina, gathered to pray for the safe return of Mariah Woods. In the prayer service dedicated to missing the 3-year-old and her family, residents of the town and friends of the family gathered at Folkstone Original Free Will Baptist Church.
Pastor Cliff Wilson led the event for Woods. There is an Amber Alert out for the little girl, who went missing on Monday. The police and the FBI have both been looking for her.
Wilson said they maintain a prayer chain at times of crises like this.
"We wanted to give a positive influence to the family tonight," Wilson said. "We wanted to show them that this community could come together in prayer. The most powerful force known to man is prayer and that is the most important thing that we could do."
Wilson added that he made sure the prayer service was totally dedicated to and focused on Mariah, her family, and the community.
Thursday marks the fourth day of an "intensive search" for the cooperating agencies. Officials say they have combed through hundreds of acres by foot, air, and with K-9 units, according to Sheriff Hans Miller.
The sheriff has had the aid of more than 14 agencies. Those officials have conducted 100 interviews, followed more than 140 leads, and had the assistance of more than 225 investigators working around the clock.
When asked if they are looking into any of the adults in Mariah's life, Sheriff Miller said that "we've talked to them, they've talked to us," but would not elaborate further.
Biological father Alex Woods and his fiancé said Wednesday night that the lead detective told them they are no longer suspects. However, the couple does seem to suspect Mariah’s mother and her boyfriend.
"Somebody just, walked right up in there, grabbed the three-year-old out the bed - she didn't cry, she didn't scream. Nobody heard nothing," he said, inferring that he didn’t believe the story.
"Somebody just comes up and snatches the baby up and walks out?" he questioned, adding that something in the situation doesn’t feel right to him.
Woods said he doesn’t believe his daughter was abducted. Instead, he said he believes his ex-wife and her boyfriend "have something to do with it."
He said he and his girlfriend have had custody issues with Woods’s mother. The couple also alleged there was abuse in the home.
Officials are asking for members of the community to search their own properties for anything that looks out of the ordinary. If anyone finds something suspicious, they should contact the Onslow County Sheriff's Office.
FBI official also emphasized that they are still looking for anyone who had contact with the family on Sunday, November 26, or Monday, November 27, to come forward.
If you have any information about Mariah's disappearance or this case, contact the Onslow County Sheriff's Office at (910) 455-3113.
In related news, gas station surveillance footage just became the first sighting of a missing teen and her much older soccer coach.