Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Police, FBI: Search crews discover body believed to be Maddox Ritch

FBI Charlotte FBI Charlotte Verified account @FBICharlotte
Patty Aguilar | 27 September, 2018, 22:29

A body that is believed to be of missing 6-year-old Maddox Ritch, who went missing days ago and sparked a widespread search and rescue effort, was found on September 27.

Ritch said he now feel guilt for letting his son get so far ahead of him, but said Maddox loves to run.

- The ongoing search for missing 6-year-old Maddox Ritch has now expanded into marshlands and dense woods surrounding Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, authorities said. "I didn't see that kid one time", Rankin Lake Park employee Rick Foxx said, according to CBS.

Authorities said Maddox's father, Ian Ritch, was not at the news conference because he was at the park, retracing their steps to help police in the investigation. "I've worked here nearly three years and we see everybody come in and out of that park pretty much".

Maddox was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with writing "I am the man" and black shorts with a white stripe.

Police also want to talk to a kayaker, a jogger and a photographer, all of whom were in the area when Maddox disappeared, CNN reports "Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living", the boy's mother, Carrie Ritch, said during a Tuesday press conference.

Ritch said he "was giving him just a little leeway, freedom" when he let him run up ahead, but he had a clear view of his son. "I'm just anxious about getting my little boy back".

Ian Ritch said his son's disappearance has left him sleepless for several days and added that he hasn't eaten.

"As soon as I got to the point where I couldn't see him anymore, I started panicking". He said they may have important information. He also said that Ian Ritch appeared out of breath and exhausted.

Both of Maddox's parents have cooperated with police, FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan said.

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Ian Ritch was with investigators Tuesday afternoon, retracing their route, where he and his son were and how they spent their day, Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said.

"I thought he might have got lost in the woods".

"We were walking on a track around the lake and he made a decision to take off from me".

Carrie Ritch, Maddox's mother, spoke to local media and urged anyone who was at the park on Saturday to call the tip line at 704-869-1075. And that's whenever I took off running after him.

Officials say he has autism and is nonverbal. "We know a lot of people were in the park yesterday and we have spoken to many of those people, but we have not spoken to everyone, and we would like to".

According to Ian Ritch, Maddox took off to run towards the opposite direction of his father and the father's friend.

Police describe Maddox as 4' tall, 45 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes. Continue praying for him, because I just want my baby home, please, whatever you can do.

This special team had different sonar equipment that had been used in previous searches and they have specialized training to locate even the smallest possible piece of evidence underwater.

The park was closed to the public on Sunday and Gastonia police pleaded with local residents to check their property, including sheds and garages.

Anyone with information about Maddox can call authorities at 704-869-1075.

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