Search Crews Discover Body Believed To Be Six-Year-Old Maddox Ritch

The Latest: 9/27/18

Search crews have found a body believed to be Maddox Ritch, the six-year-old boy who was last seen at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia on Saturday.

The body was discovered near Marietta Street and Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia.

Maddox Ritch’s parents have been notified and identification of the body will be done by the medical examiner’s office.

We are working to get more details. Check back for updates.

The Latest: 9/26/18

The Gastonia Police Department has released the 911 call made by a part-time employee with Gastonia’s Park and Recreation Department, during the search for Maddox Ritch on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

The Latest

WATCH LIVE: Gastonia Police are providing updates right now on the search for 6-year-old Maddox Ritch. #wccb #news #missing #gastoniapd #fbi

Posted by WCCB, Charlotte's CW on Monday, September 24, 2018

A full scale search and rescue effort is currently underway in Gastonia for missing six-year-old Maddox Ritch.

Officials with the Gastonia Police Department, FBI and SBI provided an update on the search Monday afternoon.

Gastonia Police say the efforts resumed around 7am Monday in Rankin Lake Park. The resumed efforts include an expanded search radius of two miles outside the park, as well as SBI K-9 units, helicopters, drones, and increased ground crews.

The search continues at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia for 6-year-old Maddox Ritch. Dogs from the SBI & National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are re-searching areas.

Posted by Gastonia Police Department on Monday, September 24, 2018

During the news conference, officials did say additional areas are being searched but would not provide any specifics on those locations. Photos (pictured above) were also released Monday that show a shirt and shoes worn by Maddox when he disappeared.

Authorities are asking for anyone who was at Rankin Lake Park Saturday and saw Maddox, or took photos and videos while at the park, to please call 704-869-1075. Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton says that number connects to a special tip line established to collect information regarding this case.

No piece of information is too small.

Original Story – Sept. 24, 2018

GASTONIA, N.C. – The search will continue all night Sunday into Monday morning for a little boy missing in Gastonia.

No one has seen six-year-old Maddox Ritch since he disappeared in Rankin Lake Park on Saturday.

More than two dozen agencies, including the FBI, are now involved in the search.

“Checking every area, every trail, every corner,” explains Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton.

Crews are searching 1,400 acres in and around the park.

“They have been through every possible lead on the ground in this area,” explains Rachel Bagley, with the city of Gastonia.

The FBI is now involved in the search.

Investigators say Ritch has autism and is non-verbal.

He was walking with his father and another adult near the lake Saturday when he ran ahead of them.

That’s the last time he was seen.

“We’re going to explore all possibilities, including abduction, but we’re also going to make sure that we search every inch of the land around here to make sure that he’s not simply lost,” explains FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Kaplan.

Investigators say they’re still hopeful Maddox will be found but they need information.

They want anyone who may have visited the park on Saturday to call them, especially anyone who took personal pictures or videos.

“No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful in our case,” Helton says.

Police say Maddox is four feet tall, 45 pounds. He has blue eyes and blonde hair.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is also now involved in the search.

“Every second counts, when a child is missing. Our focus is to find Maddox as quickly as possible and to bring him home,” Helton says.

Police say while they appreciate the public’s support, they don’t need volunteer search crews right now.

They have set-up a tip line for anyone with information.

You can call 704-869-1075.