Maddox Scott Ritch: Autistic- Gastonia, North Carolina six year old goes missing during visit at Rankin Lake Park. Was he abducted?
A six year old North Carolina boy with autism has gone missing, with the child’s frantic parents appealing for the safe return of their son who seemingly disappeared over the weekend.
The Gastonia Police Department in a Facebook statement said Maddox Scott Ritch, who has nonverbal autism, was last seen Saturday circa 1 p.m. at Rankin Lake Park, located about 20 miles west of Charlotte.
One of Maddox Ritch’s parents and two other adults were walking on the back side of the lake at the park when Maddox took off running and left their sight. Upon the group of adults not being able to quickly to locate the boy, they called 911.
‘Continue praying for him because I just want my baby home, please,’ told the missing boy’s mother, Carrie Ritch during a Tuesday press conference. ‘Whatever you can do. Maddox is my whole world, and my reason for living. He’s momma’s boy.’
‘I want my baby back in my arms,’ Ritch added.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) September 25, 2018
‘Maddox Scott Ritch: ‘I would never hurt my little boy.’
I was terrified. I didn’t know which direction he went so I looked as hard as I could, I went different ways and everything,’ Maddox’s father Ian told via People magazine. ‘I tried to find him. I don’t know where he went. Usually when he takes off running he’ll slow down and stop for me to catch up with him. This time he never stopped.’
Added the despondent father, ‘These past few days have been hell for me. I’m so broken. I’m heartbroken’.
Noted the father, ‘People are making it out like I did something to him. I would never hurt my little boy. I love him to death and I just want him back. I’ve been feeling the blame since this happened. I just wish I would have caught him before he got too far away from me. It’s broken my heart to think that I just let him get too far away.’
Police are asking anyone near the popular park on Saturday to try to remember any details that could help them find the boy.
Authorities said Maddox’s parents are fully cooperating with the investigation.
Maddox Ritch has now been missing for five days.
Today we’re hearing from the 6-year-old’s father for the first time.
— Mark Barber (@MBarberWSOC9) September 26, 2018
Was Maddox Ritch abducted?
More than 20 agencies are involved, with Gastonia police using drones and checking dumpsters for any possible sign of the boy, Fox 8 reported.
Ritch is described as being 4-foot, 45 pounds with blond hair and was last seen wearing an orange ‘I am the man’ T-shirt and black shorts with a white stripe.
Anyone with information is asked to contact a special tip line established by Gastonia Police, 704-869-1075.
As of Tuesday night, the FBI announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the missing 6-year-old boy.
Authorities have since told that they are searching for the jogger who Maddox was seen running after. They also want to speak to a man who was in the park Saturday taking photos of families. Police have also asked anyone who was in the park on Saturday afternoon to come forward, in the hopes that someone might remember a detail that could help them to locate Maddox.
Told FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan, ‘We’re going to explore all possibilities, including abduction.’