GASTONIA, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A body found in Gaston County last week is that of missing 6-year-old Maddox Ritch, the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed.
Maddox was reported missing on Saturday, Sept. 22. His body was found in Long Creek after a six day search of Rankin Lake Park and surrounding areas. The medical examiner has confirmed that this is Maddox.
Autopsy results are not yet complete and when autopsy results will be complete is not known at this time.
“We are deeply saddened to learn the body found by searchers last Thursday is confirmed to be Maddox Ritch,” Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said. “Hundreds of people searched tirelessly for this child and our work continues to answer every question we can about his tragic death.”
Ian Ritch, Maddox's father, told authorities the little boy ran off as he and a friend walked at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia Sept. 22. Ritch has said he couldn’t catch up with Maddox, who was autistic, because he has neuropathy in his feet due to diabetes.
The body believed to be Maddox was found in a creek slightly more than a mile east of the park after days of searching.
Anyone who was at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday, Sept. 22, who has not already called needs to call the Gastonia Police tip line 704-869-1075.
Rankin Lake Park will re-open to the public Wednesday, Oct. 3 since being closed Saturday, Sept. 22, when Maddox was reported missing.
A visitation for Maddox Ritch will be held Thursday at a funeral home in Huntersville, followed by a funeral service the next day. The burial will be private.