Federal agents have joined the search for a missing three-year-old girl.
Toddler Mariah Kay Woods of Jacksonville, North Carolina, was reported missing by her mother early Monday morning, according to the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
On Monday, authorities issued a statewide Amber Alert as they began investigating. By Tuesday, the FBI had joined them, Reuters reported. The agency was asking the public to help provide any relevant information.
“Our focus right now is to find her, to bring her back and then to find out what happened,” Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Miller said authorities “will not rule out any situation that may have occurred.”
“Please, bring her back ... She’s my baby, she’s my everything,” Woods said at a press conference on Monday. “Just to be able to touch her and hold her and not let her go again, I’d give anything.”
The child uses orthopedic braces on her feet to walk, her grandmother Melissa Hunter told reporters.
Mariah’s father, Alex Woods, who does not live with her mother, has expressed skepticism about the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s disappearance.
“Someone just walked right up in there, grabbed the three-year-old out of the bed and she didn’t cry, she didn’t scream?” he told local ABC News affiliate WCTI News on Tuesday morning. “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, who said he only found out his daughter was missing when the Amber Alert went out, told WCTI that he had been given custody of the young girl and her brothers last year while child protective services investigated an incident involving their mother, but that he had not seen the children since.
The first 48 hours after a child goes missing are a critical period for authorities to locate and return the child safely. Each year, hundreds of thousands of children go missing in the United States ― and the vast majority return home alive.
Anyone with information about Mariah is asked to call the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office at (704) 672-6100, or the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 455-3113.