Body believed to be missing North Carolina boy found

FBI Charlotte

The body of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was believed to have been found Thursday, less than a mile from where he went missing at a North Carolina park, officials announced during an emotional press conference.

Identification of the remains will be done by the medical examiner's office, but authorities indicated they believe they are of Maddox.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said a part-time park employee reported Maddox missing. Maddox's parents have been notified by law enforcement.

At a news conference Wednesday, Ritch made a desperate plea for anyone with information about his missing son to come forward.

The FBI says Ian Ritch, Maddox's father, is cooperating and retraced the path they took on Saturday. Ritch said he is a diabetic and because he has neuropathy in his feet, he has trouble running.

His mother, Carrie Ritch, said her son has a contagious smile and laugh.

'I couldn't catch up with him. "As soon as I got to the point where I couldn't see him anymore, I started panicking".

The distraught dad and his friend searched alongside park staff members to help and after an hour dialled 911 for help.

Brett Kavanaugh: third woman accuses supreme court nominee of sexual misconduct
She admits to being very drunk at the time, but nonetheless remembers lying on the floor with a circle of boys standing over her. Swetnick also said that she was drugged and gang-raped at a party in approximately 1982 at which Kavanaugh was present .

A hunt was immediately launched, with hundreds eventually joining the painstaking search of the area, including sewer lines and drainage ditches.

According to a 911 call released by police, a caller told authorities Maddox's parents had been searching for him for nearly an hour.

Since Saturday, when Maddox took off running while on a walk with his father around the lake at a Gastonia park, authorities had employed dogs, drones, sonar and infrared in the search for the boy.

Ian Ritch joined Gastonia police and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for a news conference, taking questions from reporters just hours after appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" to talk about Maddox Ritch, the boy who disappeared Saturday as he walked with his father at Rankin Lake Park. "It's been torture. I'm not eating, not sleeping". "I just want to know he's safe". "I came away from last night sad but also hopeful because it was a great demonstration of unity".

"Hearing about this, it makes me want to go to my nieces and nephews and hug them as tight as I can, and tell them how much I love them", Adams said. "I couldn't catch up with him". "I just pray for the mom".

Outside Rankin Lake Park on Thursday, local residents Robin and Rebekah Marshburn hung a bear, a prayer cloth and some balloons on a stop sign in Ritch's memory.

According to Ritch, Maddox was about 25 feet to 30 feet (7 meters to 9 meters) away before he broke into a sprint just as a jogger passed them.

Ritch told People he and a friend were walking with Maddox near the lake when he began running behind a jogger, saying it was common for the boy to run around so he let him.

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