Neighbors React to Discovery of Body That’s Likely of Maddox Ritch

Neighbors React to Discovery of Body That’s Likely of Maddox Ritch

Maddox's body was found by emergency crews Thursday in a creek near Rankin Lake Park.

A news conference about the ongoing search for Maddox will be held at 4 p.m. today, NBC Charlotte will hold that news conference live.

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

The father of a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a North Carolina park over the weekend said Wednesday that the search for his son has been "torture".

Maddox was 25 to 30 feet away before he broke into a sprint just as a jogger passed them. Ritch said his son often ran ahead of him, and then would slow down and wait for him to catch up.

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

"I could see him until a certain point, Ian said, "He got out of my view and that's when I never seen him again".

Gastonia Fire Chief Phil Welch said the body was found in a creek, slightly more than a mile (1.6 kilometers) east of the park, by a searcher who was walking down the middle of the creek as his partners stood on the bank.

"I'm heartbroken", a visibly upset Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton told reporters. 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.

"We still want to hear from the others", Kaplan said.

The 6-year-old with blond hair and bright blue eyes had a wide, infectious smile. "I've lost a lot of sleep this week worrying about Maddox".

The FBI and more than two dozen local and state police departments have been searching for the missing boy. They partially drained the 80-acre lake so they could better see its shoreline.

They're using specialized underwater equipment to scan the park's lake and are also looking to speak with the jogger and another man seen loading a kayak into a truck at the park on Saturday. It's unclear how he died, authorities said. Dressed entirely in black, she begged viewers to call the tip line if they knew anything.

"This particular issue is such an emotional issue and it's something that no community wants to go through or even think about", said Kellogg, shortly after learning Ritch's body was found.

"He loves the park and bouncy balls", she sobbed, "and he loves his teddy bear".

"Continue praying for him because I just want my baby home, please", she cried during the press conference.

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

"I'm not eating. I'm not sleeping", Ritch said. Now to Maddox i just want to say i love u lil buddy.

The body was found around 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27 authorities said. Park personnel also joined in the search but didn't see Maddox, either.

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