Crews have found a body in North Carolina believed to be a 6-year-old boy with autism who went missing, authorities said Thursday. The boy’s father said his son, Maddox Ritch, disappeared Saturday as they were walking in Rankin Lake Park.
“At approximately 1 p.m. on September 27, 2018, search crews discovered a body believed to be Maddox Ritch off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia,” the Gastonia Police Department said in a statement.
“Maddox’s parents have been notified of the discovery by law enforcement. Identification of the body will be done by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office.”
The FBI said an investigation is ongoing.
With heavy hearts we announce a body believed to be 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was found at approximately 1 p.m. off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia. Maddox’s parents have been notified of the discovery. The investigation is ongoing.
— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) September 27, 2018
Ian Ritch said his son ran away from him in the park last Saturday in North Carolina and that he couldn’t catch him.
On Wednesday, police released the 911 call that was made nearly an hour after Maddox went missing.
Rick Foxx, who works at Rankin Lake Park, made the call. He doesn’t believe Maddox was ever there.
“It didn’t look as though, they were that concerned,” Foxx said of the boy’s father and his girlfriend, who was with him at the park. “I’ve worked there almost three years and we see everybody come in and out of that park pretty much. I didn’t see that kid one time.”
At a news conference Wednesday, Ritch made a desperate plea for anyone with information about his missing son to come forward.
“I just want my little boy back,” Ritch said. “It’s been torture. I’m not eating, not sleeping. I’m just worried about getting my little boy back.”
Ritch said the boy chased after a jogger and then disappeared.
“I couldn’t catch up with him. I feel guilt for letting him get so far ahead of me before I started running after him,” Ritch said.
The FBI and over 300 officers searched the more than 240-acre park, including a lake. The FBI previously said it had evidence Maddox was at the park Saturday, but has never explained what that evidence was.
Ritch told CBS News he took two polygraph tests, but the FBI would not comment on the results.