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Body believed to be missing 6-year-old North Carolina boy found

The park worker, who called 911 and reported that 6-year-old North Carolina boy Maddox Ritch was missing, says he doesn't believe the child was at the park as reported by his father. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

After nearly a weeklong search, authorities believe they have found the body of missing 6-year-old Maddox Ritch near a road that runs within a mile of the park where he had reportedly run off.

What are the details?

The FBI in Charlotte said Thursday, "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 Highways in Gastonia. Maddox's parents have been notified of the discovery. The investigation is ongoing."

More than two dozen agencies and hundreds of officers spent six days scouring Rankin Lake Park for the child. Maddox's father, Ian Ritch, said that while walking through the park on Saturday afternoon, the little boy scurried after a jogger and Ritch was unable to catch him. Maddox was autistic and non-verbal.

The child ran out of sight, and his father searched for him while an employee of Rankin Lake Park called 911 an hour later to report that Maddox was missing. But the park worker who called to report the child missing says he doesn't think Maddox was even there.

The FBI released the 911 call, which was distributed by WJZY-TV.



What did the park worker say?

The park employee, Rick Foxx, told CBS News  that he doesn't believe Maddox was even at the park that day.

"It didn't look as though they were that concerned," Foxx said, referring to Ritch and his girlfriend, who was also present. "I've worked here almost three years and we see everybody come in and out of that park pretty much. I didn't see that kid one time."

Foxx then described the reaction from Maddox's mother, Carrie Ritch, when she arrived at the park around the same time as the police.

"The mother was really frantic. She was hysterical," he told WSOC-TV. "She got out of the car, and one of the sheriff's deputies had to calm her."

What did the father say?

At a news conference with the FBI and Gastonia police on Wednesday, Ritch told reporters, "I'm not eating. I'm not sleeping. I'm just worried about getting my little boy back. I thought after the first night, he would be fine."

Ritch said he "couldn't catch up" to the little boy, and that he feels "guilt for letting him get so far ahead." The father told WJW-TV that he has trouble running because he has diabetes and suffers from neuropathy in his feet.

Speaking with CBS News, Ritch admitted, "I mean, I know I'm the number one suspect when it starts. That's plain and simple. Everything they've asked for, I've given them right off the bat."

Ritch said he took two polygraph tests, but the FBI would not comment on the results. Earlier in the investigation, the authorities said they had evidence that Maddox was in the park, but did not specify what evidence they had.

One last thing…
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