The sad disappearance of Mariah Kay Woods entered another day of searching, yet no indication was available as to whether or not the investigators are making any headway with the search for the missing three-year-old.
The fifth day of the search attracted the largest effort yet, with hundreds of volunteers helping law enforcement.
Approximately 700 volunteers gathered at the Onslow Community Church to assist in the search.
"We were not expecting such a great amount of people," Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said during a news conference. "I'd like to consider this a personal thank you for all those who came out and helped."
A statement released by Mike and Lori Satterfield revealed that they felt compelled to assist in the search because they have kids of their own.
"We've got grandkids, a granddaughter that's that small," the couple said. "I took off work…we closed our company today."
The same sentiment was echoed by Delores Rios, who revealed that:
"I feel like that's my family too. That's your family, that's your family. That's everybody's family," she said. Mike Seifert said as a parent, he felt an obligation to help. "Got grandkids that small," he said. "What can you do? Took off work. Let's do it."
The volunteers pushed their efforts for hours. "This is a baby that is missing, and this is emotional for me," Rios said. "I have grandkids and kids, and I want to be a part of finding her and bringing her home."
Some of the items that were flagged do not appear to be connected to the case at hand. In the meantime, authorities also deployed officers on horseback and in boats, using underwater sonar.
The FBI supervisor, Stanley Meador, revealed that an underwater sonar device was brought in, and that 95,000 pounds of trash at a local landfill had been searched by hand.
Over a period of more than 24 hours, the Sheriff’s office deployed vehicles while the police department and the FBI could also be seen on the side of U.S. Highway 17, near Southwest Creek. Authorities would not comment on why they were focused on that area.
"We are dedicating every available resource to this case," Miller said. "Our top priority is to find out where she is and what happened."
The daughter’s mother told the Onslow County Sheriff's Office that she last saw her daughter at their family home, at 2404 Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, on Sunday night when she put her to bed.
She called the sheriff's office around 6 a.m. Monday to report her missing.
In a statement released on Thursday, Meador said agents at Marine Corps Base Quantico, outside Washington, D.C., were testing "items of interest" in this case. He did not elaborate on what those items were, or where they were found. He added that additional items were sent for testing on Friday.
The authorities have not said much about the investigation but said they do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the general public. "Any particulars about what we find, what we did not find, that is going to be close hold. We are not releasing it to the public at this point," Miller said. "We believe this is a focused incident at this point."
In a Friday afternoon news conference, Miller said that he had a "long conversation" with one of Mariah's family members, and added that "they are cooperating." Mariah's parents are divorced, and her father, Alex Woods, said that while his daughter is living with her mother right now, the last few days have been extremely hard.
"Like hell. Like a nightmare. This ain't true. I mean, really," he said. "I hope and pray that I can get my daughter and hold her again. Tell her that I love her and to see the rest of my kids and be a family. I got to think the best."
Woods said it is hard to describe how he is feeling. "It's just so overwhelming. I don't know how to put it into words," he said. Persons with information about Mariah are asked to call the Onslow County Sheriff's Office 910-455-3113 or call 911.