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How Did Maddox Ritch Die? Sad Details About The Death Of The 6-Year-Old Autistic Boy

Photo: Photo via Ian Scott Ritch on Facebook
How Did Maddox Ritch Die? Body Found Missing North Carolina Boy Cause Of Death
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Although Maddox's body was found on Thursday, many questions surround his disappearance and death.

On Thursday afternoon, a search team found what is believed to be the body of six-year-old Maddox Ritch in a creek near Gastonia, North Carolina.

The story of his disappearance captured widespread community concern due to Maddox’s young age and that he has limited verbal skills due to his autism. The discovery comes nearly one week after Maddox went missing from Rankin Lake Park on Saturday afternoon.

Shortly before his disappearance, Maddox was walking through the park with his father, Ian Ritch, and another adult who is believed to be Ian Ritch’s girlfriend. 

According to Daily Mail, as the three walked, Maddox started to run ahead, which Ritch says is normal for his son. However, Maddox took off in a dead sprint after being passed by a jogger on the trail.

“He likes running. I couldn’t catch up with him. I feel guilty for letting him get so far ahead of me before I started running after him,” Ritch said. He added that Maddox would periodically turn back and laugh while being chased.

Ian Ritch also reported that, due to his diabetes, he has developed neuropathy in his feet. This hindered him from running fast enough to catch up with Maddox, and soon the boy was far out of sight.

RELATED: Who Are Maddox Ritch's Parents? New Details About The Autistic Boy Who Has Been Missing For Five Days

While Ian Ritch’s description of the events leading up to his son’s disappearance make him sound like a concerned and helpless father, a Rankin Lake Park employee was skeptical about Ritch’s demeanor following the event. The employee, Ray Foxx, called 911 after Ritch approached him saying that he had been searching the park for his son for over an hour.

Foxx said that Ritch seemed nonchalant considering the fact that his son had been missing for a substantial period of time, noting that he did not come across as a ‘concerned parent.’ Maddox was wearing an orange shirt with black shorts at the time of his disappearance, but Foxx does not believe that he was ever at the park in the first place.

“I’ve worked there almost three years and we see everybody come in and out of that park pretty much. I didn’t see that kid one time,” said Foxx.

CBS News reports that the FBI claims to have evidence that Maddox was, in fact, at the park, but they have not revealed the nature of the evidence. Ritch has also allegedly taken two polygraph tests in connection to Maddox’s disappearance, but the results have yet to be revealed by the FBI.

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In contrast to Maddox’s father’s reaction to his son’s disappearance, Foxx says that Maddox’s mother, Carrie Ritch, was inconsolable upon arriving at the scene. However, both parents made emotional pleas to the media for Maddox’s safe return during the six days of searching.

On Tuesday, Carrie asked the public for any information about her son’s whereabouts.

“Whatever you can do. Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living. He’s momma’s boy,” she said in her plea.

Ian spoke with Good Morning America about his feelings of guilt on Wednesday, adding that he was aware of the media’s blame of him for the incident (whether his role in the disappearance was malicious or not). If he didn’t seem like enough of a concerned parent at the time of the interview, he certainly did at the time that the body was found.

In a long Facebook post published shortly after the rescue team found Maddox’s body, Ian Ritch described his sorrow over the loss of his son. He noted that it would be his final response to any questions regarding his son’s disappearance and death.

“Just please hug ur children tighter and please dont make my mistake and let them get too far away from u. Do everything u can with ur children because i wont get the chance to do anything with mine,” he said in the post.

As the family grieves the loss of their child, much speculation regarding the circumstances of his death continues. According to People, the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s office has not yet determined the cause of death.

The FBI investigation is also ongoing. FBI agent Jason Kaplan told the media that it is “too early” to determine whether or not foul play is a factor in Maddox’s death.

As the investigation continues, investigators continue to ask anyone who was at the park on the day of the disappearance to come forward with any information that might help them answer the many questions that surround the case. In particular, police are asking to speak to a man in a white truck who may have been the last person to see Maddox alive.

He or anyone who may know his identity is encouraged to contact local authorities.

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