Published: Fri, September 28, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Police find body they believe to be missing 6-year-old boy

Police find body they believe to be missing 6-year-old boy

The FBI's Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team was in the water at Rankin Lake Park Thursday morning as part of their continuing search efforts to find Maddox. They've also partially drained the 80-acre lake so they can better see its shoreline.

More than a dozen agencies joined the search, including divers who focused on the lake.

Maddox Scott Ritch is seen in an image posted to the Gastonia Police Department's Facebook page.

Kaplan added there were still many unanswered questions, and the public's help was needed to gather more information.

The search for Maddox Ritch, a 6-year-old boy with autism who vanished Saturday, is believed to be over. About 180 people had been out searching on Thursday.

"There is not a sense of accomplishment here today". The area, thick with underbrush, had been searched numerous times. Identification of the body will be done by the medical examiner's office, police report. FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan said. "In law enforcement, we will not take anything for granted. a lot of people have lost sleep".

Kaplan declined to comment on the condition of the body. "I just want to say. If you have a shed, a barn, a wooded area, please go take a look and call us immediately if you find anything out of the ordinary". "The investigation is ongoing", it said earlier in the day.

He added: "We were walking on a track around the lake".

Maddox's dad, Ian Ritch, and an unidentified friend had taken Maddox to the Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, North Carolina, to go for a walk when he suddenly took off on foot, according to WSOCTV 9.

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Ritch said neuropathy in his feet caused by diabetes makes it hard for him to run and he was unable to catch up to his son.

However he says Maddox then began running faster, and despite running after him, the father says he wasn't able to catch him and soon lost sight of him.

His father, Ian Ritch, who asked Foxx to call 911, claimed the boy ran ahead of him after a jogger but didn't slow down.

Investigators hedged their words, but they said that a body found submerged in water probably belonged to him, according to the Charlotte Observer. After an hour, Ritch called 911, saying he delayed that call because he thought he would find his son and hoped he would have no reason to call police. "I didn't see that kid one time". Maddox was about 25 to 30 feet away when he broke into a sprint, Ritch said.

While the hunt continues, Gastonia's Police Chief Robert Helton is asking anyone with a lead to come forward.

The FBI previously said it had evidence Maddox was at the park Saturday, but did not specify what that evidence was. "We need to know as much as we can about the movement [of Maddox]". The autopsy also will make a definitive determination of his identity, although investigators say there was little doubt that it was Maddox who was found.

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

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.

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