Maddox Ritch was found dead in Gastonia on the afternoon of September 27. The FBI made the announcement just before 2 p.m. He had been missing since September 22 in Gastonia, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. Maddox was found at around 1 p.m. off of Marrietta Street and the Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia. His parents have been notified. That location is around seven miles from where Ritch was last seen.
Maddox has been described as having autism and is “nonverbal.” The FBI is offering up to $10,000 for information that leads to finding Maddox. Maddox was with his father, Ian Ritch, in Rankin Lake Park when he was reported missing. Ritch says his son ran ahead of him. Ritch said his son was chasing after a jogger. At the time he was last seen, Maddox was wearing an orange t-shirt with the words, “I am the man,” printed on it. In addition to black shorts with a white stripe.
In a press conference on September 26, Ian Ritch told the media, “I just want my son home. It’s torture.” A press release from the Gastonia Police Department says that Ritch, Maddox’s mother, Carrie Ritch, and Ritch’s girlfriend who was also present in the park, are all co-operating with the investigation. Around 330 law enforcement officer from local police to the FBI have been searching the park. The Gastonia Police Department has implored more people who were at the park on September 22 to come forward. The FBI is looking to speak to the jogger as well as a man who was loading a kayak into a truck nearby and professional photographer who was in the area at the time. Officials are worried that impending weather might hamper the search efforts.
Police in North Carolina released the Maddox Ritch 911 call on the morning of September 27. The call was made by Rick Foxx, who works at Rankin Lake Park. Foxx told CBS News, “It didn’t look as though they were that concerned. I’ve worked there almost three years and we see everybody come in and out of that park pretty much. I didn’t see that kid one time.” The 911 call didn’t come until an hour after Ritch says he lost sight of his son. Ritch said of the delay, “My initial thought is that I had park staff searching. I thought we would have found him and there was no reason to call police until that time period. Then it got scary.”