Maddox Ritch: Body found amid frantic search for missing North Carolina boy

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Friday, September 28, 2018

GASTONIA, N.C. (KABC) -- A body has been found amid the frantic search for Maddox Ritch, a boy with autism who went missing from a Gastonia, North Carolina park, authorities said.

Authorities say the body was discovered at approximately 1 p.m. Thursday off Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia.

Ritch's parents have been notified of the discovery by law enforcement. Identification of the body will be done by the Medical Examiner's Office.

The boy, who has autism and is non-verbal, disappeared around 1:30 p.m. Saturday after going to Rankin Lake Park with his father and another adult.

The father told police that the boy ran off, and when they started running after him, they lost sight of him.

A 911 caller said the boy had disappeared about an hour before he called. "We searched everywhere," he said.

Both parents went before the media this week to plead for any information that would lead to the discovery of Maddox, who was autistic.

According to the boy's father, Ian Ritch, Maddox was about 25 feet to 30 feet away before he broke into a sprint just as a jogger passed them. The father said he is a diabetic and, because he has neuropathy in his feet, he has trouble running.

"He likes running," Ritch said. "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."