GASTONIA, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - For three nights in a row community members have organized some type of vigil for missing 6-year-old Maddox Ritch.
Wednesday night was no different as dozens packed into the Allure of Gastonia Restaurant to offer up a prayer for Maddox's safe return.
Officials said the little boy disappeared after running away from his father at a park Saturday in Gaston County. He has autism and is described as being nonverbal.
Most of the people who attended Wednesday's vigil do not know Maddox, but that didn't matter.
"We're a city, but we still feel like a small town. Even if you don't know the family, you know someone who knows someone, or you've been to the park, or you've spent much of you're life here," said one attendee. "It's just crazy it happened here and we want to show everyone that we all love each other."
Songs, candles, and hope filled the inside of the downtown Gastonia restaurant. People's prayers were offered up in the hopes of a blessing coming down for Maddox and his family.
Some of the investigators working the case were also in attendance. Organizers said a prayer over them as they finished up day five of search efforts.