"We searched everywhere": 911 call released on missing Gastonia 6-year-old

Geneva Stokes
September 28, 2018

Maddox has autism and limited verbal skills and had been allegedly walking with his father Ian Ritch and another adult at the park at around 1.30pm on Saturday when his father says he started running.

The search for the missing boy, who has autism and is nonverbal, entered its sixth day on Thursday.

On September 22, Maddox took off running during a walk around the lake, a police spokeswoman said.

The boy's father said his son, Maddox Ritch, disappeared Saturday as they were walking in the park.

On Wednesday, the autistic boy's father explained to the media how the 4 foot tall, 45-pound Maddox went missing along an oval pathway around Gastonia's Rankin Lake Park.

"I just want my baby home, please, whatever you can do", she said at a press conference. Rich told ABC that Maddox frequently does so, but always stops and waits for him to catch up. "As soon as I got to the point where I couldn't see him anymore, I started panicking".

"It didn't look as though they were that concerned", Foxx said, referring to Ritch and his girlfriend, who was also present. "He just chose to take off from me and I let him go a little bit because he likes running", he said. Kaplan said it was "absolutely amazing" he was found.

"It was extremely hard to see him, even when we were standing right next to him", he said.

Fire Chief Phil Welch said authorities have brought in new people every day to search a 250-acre park area. 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.

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"It may not be helpful to us now, and we're not expecting that Maddox would appear in those photos, but it may have other information that may be valuable".

Ian said his son's disappearance left him sleepless for several days, and he hasn't eaten. Authorities have found no sign of the boy and say they are looking at all possibilities, including abduction.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said the search for the little boy included a landfill just a few miles from where he was last seen.

Ritch said he had his eyes on young Maddox, but the 6-year-old suddenly dropped out of view Saturday.

Ian Ritch said he has some mobility issues related to nerve damage in his feet caused by diabetes.

Helton said investigators are searching for witnesses who may be able to help in the case.

This special team had different sonar equipment that had been used in previous searches and they have specialized training to locate even the smallest possible piece of evidence underwater. Asked by CBS whether he harmed his son in any way, Ian Ritch answered "no". Maddox did not speak because of his autism, adding an obstacle for those searching to find him. On Thursday, officials announced they had found the body of a child thought to be Maddox.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Ritch said: 'He likes running.

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