Federal Bureau of Investigation finds body, believed to be missing NC boy

Friday, 28 Sep, 2018

Six-year-old Maddox Ritch remains missing despite hundreds of trained searchers looking for him and police following up on more than 250 leads over the past five days.

This week, authorities pumped pre-recorded messages from Maddox Scott Ritch's parents into the sprawling Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, North Carolina - the last place the 6-year-old boy was seen before he disappeared on Saturday.

The little boy was with his dad Ian and another adult in Rankin Lake Park at the time of his disappearance, BBC News reports. "I'm just anxious about getting my little boy back".

"We were walking on a track around the lake". Maddox then started running after spotting a jogger on the trail around the lake, Ritch said, and continued out of sight. "I want to give him a big hug as soon as I see him", he added.

Investigators said they have received additional tip calls since the news conference Tuesday afternoon from individuals who were at the park on Saturday. Maddox's parents have been notified of the discovery.

Maddox is 4-feet-tall and weighs around 45 pounds.

Helton said there were a lot of children in the park on the day Maddox disappeared, including other blond-haired boys wearing orange T-shirts.

"We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from the community to help us in the search for Maddox", said Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton. Ritch says his son ran ahead of him.

On Tuesday, Carrie Ritch told reporters her son has a contagious smile and laugh. I feel, I feel guilty because I could go the house lay down in a bed.

Maddox's parents have encouraged anyone who may have information on the case to call the special tip line, 704-869-1075.

"We want to make sure that we're checking every possible spot to find this child", he said.

"Maddox Ritch, a attractive young man, blond hair, blue eyes, out walking this past Saturday with his dad, waking around the lake, looking at turtles, doing the things that a young man would do and this is not the end we hoped for", said Helton, wiping a tear at one point.

His mother said that Maddox is autistic and can not speak, which complicated the search and rescue efforts.

"We are working around the clock with one goal in mind - to find Maddox and bring him home safely", Helton said.

"I could see him until a certain point", his father told Good Morning America.

The FBI was offering a $10,000 reward for information that will help them find Maddox.

Authorities are also hoping a $10,000 reward offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation will provide information to help find Maddox. Ritch said of the delay, "My initial thought is that I had park staff searching".

The father of a missing 6-year-old boy with autism said the search for his son has been "torture".

Shortly after police announced a body had been found Thursday, Gastonia resident Robin Marshburn had tied blue and white balloons to a street sign near the park and placed a teddy bear at its base. No piece of information is too small. Hundreds of people were there and we have only spoken to a few dozen.