Search for Maddox Ritch comes to tragic end

Search for Maddox Ritch comes to tragic end

Maddox Ritch, the 6-year-old who went missing at a North Carolina Park, was possibly found dead Thursday, say authorities in a press conference.

Identification of the body will be done by the medical examiner's office.

The little boy was with his dad Ian and another adult in Rankin Lake Park at the time of his disappearance, BBC News reports.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton asked a man who was there with a white pickup truck, a crew cab with running boards, who was loading kayaks and wearing a camouflage hat to call the tip line at 704-869-1075.

Maddox's parents were notified immediately of the discovery by law enforcement.

On Wednesday, the father of Maddox, Ian Ritch, thanked rescue workers and begged for his son's safe return. Maddox was about 25 to 30 feet away when he broke into a sprint, Ritch said. The father said he is a diabetic and because he has neuropathy in his feet, he has trouble running.

On Thursday night, Ian Ritch, father of Maddox Ritch, made an emotional post on Facebook about his son. "Now today i found out im not a dad anymore".

"He just got a little too far away from me before I could catch up to him".

The boy has diabetes and neuropathy in his feet that can make it hard for him to run, his father said.

"I'd love to let you see the difference between him running and you running, 'cause he's pretty fast, '" he said.

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Maddox often would run ahead of him but would usually slow down and stop to give him time to catch up, Ritch said.

Ritch said he, the friend who was with them and park staff members first helped search for Maddox.

Hundreds of officers were involved in the search for Maddox. After an hour, Ritch called 911, saying he delayed that call because he thought he would find his son and there was no reason to call police.

Maddox ran off Saturday as he, his father and a friend were walking along a paved trail in Rankin Lake Park, said the boy's father, Ian Ritch. Gastonia Police said 10 teams of 15 people, including the FBI's Evidence Response Team, searched the area near Rankin Lake Park.

"I'm not eating. I'm not sleeping".

"I want my baby back in my arms. I'm just anxious about getting my little boy back", he said.

"I didn't know which direction he went so I looked as hard as I could, I went different ways and everything". "I just pray for the mom".

Mr Ritch said that not being able to find his son had 'been torture'. Investigators found him in a location accessible by walking a path underneath USA 321, part of a future greenway that'll connect Rankin Lake Park to downtown Gastonia.

A statement from Gastonia police said the body was found around 1 p.m. Thursday at a location approximately 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the park where he was last seen. "We know a lot of people were in the park, and we have spoken to many of them, but we have not spoken to everyone".

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