Body found in hunt for six-year-old boy — Maddox Ritch missing

Hugh Fox
September 28, 2018

The boy's parents have been notified of the discovery.

Authorities are searching for six-year-old Maddox Ritch, who went missing on Saturday from Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia.

The search for the missing boy, who has autism and is nonverbal, came to a tragic end on Thursday. "We have trained searchers walking through the entire park, checking every area, every trail, every corner".

The body was apparently found across from Rankin Lake Park, where Maddox was last seen at midday Saturday.

'I couldn't catch up with him. The father said he is a diabetic and has trouble running because he has neuropathy in his feet.

Maddox's father, Ian Ritch, said that while walking through the park on Saturday afternoon, the little boy scurried after a jogger and Ritch was unable to catch him.

In a previous interview with "Good Morning America", Ian Ritch described the harrowing moment his son got away. He said once he couldn't see his son, he got scared.

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The chief of a North Carolina police department said he was "heartbroken" over the discovery of a body believed to be that of a missing 6-year-old boy.

Since then, local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have launched a massive search operation trying to find where Maddox may have gone or what may have happened to him. He has blond hair and blue eyes.

"I started worrying once I could not see him anyone", father Ian Ritch told WRAL.

Maddox was autistic and nonverbal, which made the search for him even more hard, authorities said. They've also partially drained the 80-acre lake so they can better see its shoreline.

The FBI has a team that is highly specialized in searching for missing children. He said the area had been searched previously by drones, all-terrain vehicles and on foot. "Please call the tip line".

On Tuesday, Maddox's mother, Carrie, gave an emotional plea for help, said Fox News.

"He loves the park and bouncy balls", she sobbed, "and he loves his teddy bear".

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"It's torture. I just want my little boy back home. Maddox is my whole world, my reason for living". Another adult said to be with the father and son at the time has not publicly spoken about the incident. "I just want to say". I tried to find him.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said the search for the little boy included a landfill just a few miles from where he was last seen. "When we pulled up I saw all this traffic and I asked a police officer what was going on and they said they haven't confirmed it yet, but they think they found [Maddox's] body down there". No piece of information is too small.

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information in his disappearance.

How does Maddox's autism affect the search?

After a desperate day-long search, a body believed to be that of a missing boy with autism has been found near a highway in North Carolina.

Members of the search team have also been playing audio recordings from Maddox's parents, in hopes that the boy would be drawn toward their voices, CNN reports.

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