GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — Authorities are confirming that the body found last week in a North Carolina creek was a 6-year-old boy who went missing days earlier.
Gastonia police announced in a statement Monday that the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the body found last week was Maddox Ritch. Police say it's not clear when autopsy results will be complete.
Police Chief Robert Helton says "work continues to answer every question we can about his tragic death."
Ian Ritch says his son ran off Sept. 22at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. He said he couldn't catch the boy because he has neuropathy in his feet because of diabetes. Maddox's body was found days later in a creek east of the park. A funeral is set for Friday.
GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - A body believed to be Maddox Ritch was found after a six-day search that focused on Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia.
With heavy hearts we announce a body believed to be 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was found at approximately 1 p.m. off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia. Maddox’s parents have been notified of the discovery. The investigation is ongoing.
— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) September 27, 2018
The 6-year-old disappeared while he was at the park with his father and the father’s girlfriend on Saturday, September 22. On Thursday, the FBI confirmed the boy’s body was found off of Marietta Street near Old Dallas Highway.
More than two dozen agencies, including the FBI, assisted with the search on ground and in the water over the last.
Members of the FBI dive team searched Rankin Lake in the park where 6-year-old Maddox Ritch went missing Saturday.
The specialized dive team used “different equipment” than what was previously used during searches of the lake. A release from the Gastonia Police Department says the lake is still being drained which will make it impossible for large boats to be in the water.
Law enforcement agencies continue pleading with the public, asking anyone who was at the park Saturday to come forward.
Crews are searching anywhere they think the little boy may have wandered off too, including inside drainage pipes. “We desperately need to hear from those in the park on Saturday,” FBI Charlotte tweeted, “704-869-1075.”
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