GASTONIA, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Five days into the search for 6-year-old Maddox Ritch and there are still no signs of the precious little boy.
Sixty-seven additional investigators and agents have joined the search. The 6-year-old boy disappeared after running away from his father at a park Saturday in Gaston County. He has autism and is described as being nonverbal.
Maddox's father, Ian Ritch, addressed a crowd of reporters Wednesday, shedding light on the day his son disappeared.
"It's torture. I want him back home. I want to give him a big hug and know he's safe," Ian Ritch said. "He initially took off 30 feet from me then he went to a major sprint. I was giving him a little leeway. I wanted him to have fun."
According to 911 tapes, it took about an hour until a park employee called for police.
"My initial thought is that I had park staff searching. I thought we would have found him and there was no reason to call police until that time period. Then it got scary."
The FBI addressed the veracity of the father's story.
"We've worked very hard with him and Maddox's mom. We feel confident that the information is accurate and has helped," said FBI supervisory special agent Jason Kaplan.
Officials are asking for a man in a pick up truck and a jogger who they say were in the park that day to come forward. They say they're not in trouble, but it's possible they may hold information that can better piece the timeline together.
The search for Maddox continued Wednesday night, but agents with the FBI feared severe weather moving may have impacted their efforts.
Maddox hasn’t been seen since Saturday afternoon at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia where he was reportedly with his father and another adult.
Hundreds of investigators have spread their search beyond the park, into the woods toward Interstate-85 and Long Creek.
The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information that will help them find Maddox. Investigators also warned against spreading false rumors that impede on their search for the little autistic boy.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call (704) 869-1075.