Search for Maddox Ritch comes to tragic end


A body believed to be Maddox Ritch, a non-verbal, 6-year-old with autism who disappeared from a park Saturday in Gastonia, North Carolina, has been found.

“I’m heartbroken. Our community is heartbroken,” said Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton.

A medical examiner is working to confirm the identity of the body, which was pulled from a creek about four-miles from Rankin Lake Park Thursday, where Maddox Ritch was with his father last Saturday.

His father, who has said he has nerve damage and diabetes, told a park employee he could not catch-up with Maddox after he started running behind a jogger in the park.

Members of the community joined more than 300 officers from the FBI, state and local police as part of the search effort.

“The whole thing has just been a terrible nightmare for everybody. A 6-year- old child, that’s the worst nightmare for everybody,” said Gastonia resident Mike Fields.

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