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FBI confirms: Believe they've found the body of missing 6-year-old

Photo credit: Gastonia Police Department

GASTONIA, N.C. (WLOS) — The FBI in Charlotte, North Carolina confirms, they have found a body in the search for a missing 6-year-old boy.

In a Tweet the agency said, "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."

This is a developing story. We will update with more information as it becomes available.

The search for Maddox began on Saturday when the boy went missing while on a walk with his father. Ian Ritch said the boy, who would regularly run ahead of him before slowing down and waiting for him to catch up, got too far away.

"We were walking on a track around the lake. He just decided to take off from me and I let him go a little bit because he likes running so I didn't think nothing of it. He just got a little too far away from me before I could catch up to him," Ian Ritch told ABC’s Good Morning America.

Ian said he started to panic as soon as it got to the point where he could not see Maddox anymore.

"I'd love to let you see the difference between him running and you running 'cause he's pretty fast," Ian Ritch said. It's hard, I'm so worried, and scared hoping that he's OK out there."

Maddox, who has autism and is nonverbal, hadn’t been seen since.

Ian Ritch said he wishes he could have handled the situation differently.

"I should've called him. I should've not let him get so far ahead of me before I started after him," Ian Ritch said. "It's been hard to sleep. I feel guilty because I can go into a house and lay down in a bed and my little boy might be out there in the woods sleeping on the ground. That's very upsetting."

Officials from agencies across the region and the FBI have been scouring the park around the clock since Maddox was reported missing.


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