Body found at North Carolina park believed to be missing boy

FBI Charlotte

Ritch said his son was chasing after a jogger.

Maddox Ritch has not been seen since Saturday, when he ran away from his father in a park in Gastonia. Ritch said he couldn't catch up with his son before he vanished.

He was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt with writing "I am the man" on it and black shorts with a white stripe. "Then it got scary", he said.

About 180 searchers came out to help find the missing boy Thursday, according to Gastonia Fire Chief Phil Welch. "We have gotten calls from many people in the community eager to help and we appreciate that".

Maddox has blond hair, blue eyes and is four feet tall, according to a missing-person poster from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The 6-year-old with blond hair and bright blue eyes had a wide, infectious smile. They partially drained the 80-acre lake so they could better see its shoreline.

The FBI's Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team will report to Rankin Lake Park and be using different equipment than what has been used in previous searches of the water.

Ian Ritch was with his son, who has autism and is nonverbal, and another adult when he says the boy ran off and he couldn't keep up.

On Tuesday, officials said Maddox's father was at the park retracing his steps.

The FBI previously said it had evidence Maddox was at the park Saturday, but has never explained what that evidence is. "Maddox loves the park, he loves bouncy balls and he loves his teddy bear". "I'm just anxious about getting my little boy back". "Maddox is my whole world, and my reason for living, he's Momma's boy".

Mr Ritch said that not being able to find his son had 'been torture'.

"It's hard to sleep".

Ian said his son's disappearance left him sleepless for several days, and he hasn't eaten.

"It hit me as a mom, initially", Iseah said.

Ian Ritch said during a press conference on Wednesday that he just wants Maddox back.

The police chief said earlier this week that law enforcement agencies have been searching "nonstop" since the boy was first reported missing, "checking every area, every trail, every corner". "We do not move forward based just on what one person or another person says happened".

"You've seen the enormous amount of resources that we are devoting to locate this precious little boy", Helton said. "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".

The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Maddox.

"The investigation is not over", Kaplan said. Autism affects 1 in 59 children, according to the National Autism Association, and more than half are classified as having an intellectual disability or a borderline intellectual disability.

Children with autism are often prone to wandering or bolting away.

He went missing over the weekend.

The boy was allegedly last seen on Saturday at Gastonia's Rankin Lake Park. They've been playing a message with his parents' voices over loudspeakers, hoping to lure him out of the woods.

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