Body of Maddox Ritch, Missing 6-Year-Old North Carolina Boy with Autism, Found

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Authorities announced on Thursday they believed to have found the body of 6-year-old Maddox Scott Ritch, who went missing on Saturday while he was at Rankin Lake Park with his father. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Authorities believe they have found the body of a 6-year-old boy with autism who went missing last week.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation of Charlotte, North Carolina, tweeted Thursday it believed the body of Maddox Ritch, who disappeared after his father had lost sight of him while the two were at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday, was found.

"With heavy hearts we announce a body believed to be 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was found at approximately 1 p.m. off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia. Maddox's parents have been notified of the discovery. The investigation is ongoing," the FBI tweeted.

Maddox's father, Ian Ritch, said he was walking with Maddox in the park with his friend when the 6-year-old ran ahead of him, KHBS reported.

Ritch told reporters Maddox would sometimes run ahead of him but would usually slow down so he could catch up to him. "I couldn't catch up with him. I feel guilt for letting him get so far ahead of me before I started running after him," Ritch told reporters.

Police used a number of tactics to try to find Maddox. FBI agents used messages that were pre-recorded by Maddox's parents to help find the boy from Gastonia, North Carolina, ABC News previously reported. Maddox was nonverbal and FBI agents hoped that by playing the sound of his parents voices, they could bring him out of the woods if he was there, according to ABC News.

On Wednesday, a worker at the park by the name of Rich Foxx told CBS News that Ritch and his friend did not seem to be concerned about the missing child. Foxx told the news station he made the 911 call an hour after Maddox went missing and did not believe the six-year-old was with them at the time of his disappearance.

"It didn't look as though, they were that concerned," Foxx told CBS News. "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."

Foxx also told WSOC-TV on Wednesday that Ritch appeared to be "out of breath" when he asked him to help search for Maddox. He said he called the police when he could not find the six-year-old.

"He didn't act like a concerned parent, like I would act, or any concerned parent would act," Foxx told the news station. "The mother [Carrie Ritch] was really frantic. She was hysterical. She got out of the car, and one of the sheriff's deputies had to calm her."

Body of Maddox Ritch, Missing 6-Year-Old North Carolina Boy with Autism, Found | U.S.