HUNTERSVILLE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Family, friends and even complete strangers came to show their love and support for the family of Maddox Ritch on Thursday night.
The 6-year-old boy’s body was found one week ago after he disappeared from Rankin Lake Park.
“We realize our prayers are your prayers and our tears are you tears,” said Delores Lindley as she wiped away her tears. She proudly called Maddox her nephew.
Outside of the funeral home Thursday she addressed the media to thank all of the people who searched for Maddox and all of the people who prayed for him during this trying time.
“Your heartfelt perseverance will never be forgotten,” said Lindley.
One after another, people walked inside Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home to support the family. Some of them carried teddy bears which was one of Maddox’s favorite things.
“We are just praying for the family and we know Maddox is in heaven,” said Joel Woodcock who works at the boy’s school.
“Your loss will be felt by many,” read Doris Inman off of a card she’s delivering on behalf of her church. She didn’t personally know the little boy but felt so moved by what happened to him and his family.
“He had a contagious smile and he was a happy child,” Lindley said as she described Maddox.
Inside the funeral home stood posters of pictures of Maddox in the arms of his parents and one of him holding a bear. The 6-year-old with special needs took off running at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday, September 22. His dad couldn’t catch up. Law enforcement officers from dozens of agencies spent the next six days looking for Maddox. He was eventually found in a creek about a mile away from the park.
“My heart was just touched by the loss. I couldn’t come to grips with what really happened. Night after night I would just think about him,” said Inman.
“Last week we were really praying for him and hoping for a different outcome,” said Patty Woodcock who also works at Maddox’s school.
Maddox may have been a stranger to many but he was a little boy who loved to play, a friend, a nephew and a son who will be missed.
“God has got him. They don’t have to worry,” said Inman.
“He made me feel special,” said Lindley about her nephew.
Maddox’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. on Friday at Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home in Huntersville.
There are still many questions surrounding his death. Gastonia Police confirm Maddox was at the park the day he disappeared. They are waiting for autopsy results before a ruling can be made.