JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The greater Onslow County community is in mourning after authorities believe they found the body of 3-year-old Mariah Woods in a Pender County creek Saturday afternoon.
Later Saturday a memorial was set up near the home where Woods lived with her mom and her live-in boyfriend, who is now charged in the case.
On Sunday, many didn’t have words to describe how they were feeling.
“It is just devastating,” said Nelson Bolster. “I mean, you don’t know what to say about it.”
Bolster lived across from the home Woods lived in for more than 40 years.
“I’ve seen her out and about a little bit, I mean running around like a happy little girl,” he said. “Just full of life bright little girl, kind of like my little daughter when she was that age.”
Others in the area are also mourning the loss of Woods.
“It was so close to where we live, and the little girl was only three years old. And I have a little 18-month girl. It’s just hard because it is a child,” said Jessica Estes.
“My heart shattered. This could have been any of our children, and as time went on, she became our child. That has been the hardest thing on this community,” said Bonnie Fuleki.
The memorial on Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville is open to anyone who wants to visit or leave an item in memory of Mariah Woods.