Maddox Ritch Cause of Death Revealed as Probable Drowning, Autopsy Report Says

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Six-year-old Maddox Ritch, a non-verbal boy with autism who was found dead in September died due to a probable drowning, according to an autopsy report released by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI)

Maddox Ritch, the non-verbal six-year-old, who went missing in North Carolina, and was found dead in a creek in September, died from a probable drowning, according to autopsy results obtained by WCNC.

The news station reported the results of the autopsy on Thursday. Newsweek has reached out to the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's office for further information but did not hear back in time for publication.

Ritch, who had autism, reportedly ran away from his father while they were at Rankin Lake Park in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 22. The six-year-old's father, Ian Ritch, said the boy would often run ahead of him but would slow down to allow him to catch up.

Police used multiple tactics to try to find the Ritch. FBI agents even used messages that were pre-recorded by Maddox's parents to help them find the six-year-old from Gastonia, North Carolina, ABC News previously reported. Authorities announced that they found the boy on September 27 at 1 p.m. off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia, which ended a week-long search.

"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 FBI previously tweeted.

Following the news that Ritch's body had been found, Ian wrote a long Facebook post on September 28 thanking law enforcement and those who helped search for his son. He called Maddox his "best little buddy."

"Maddox was my only child and he will be the only one I will ever have. I wasn't so worried about him when all this started on sat because I expected to find him right off over time I got more and more scared and worried," Ritch previously wrote. "Once Sunday morning came, that's when [sic] I had something to worry about. Now today I found out I'm not a dad anymore."

The father said he would feel guilty for the rest of his life for not being able to help his son, and that he will "forever be a broken man."

"From this moment on for the rest of my life, I will live with the guilt of not being there to save my son. The most important person in my life," Ritch wrote. "So when everyone else gets to go back to their normal lives, remember that I will never be the same man again. I will now and forever be a broken man until I take my last breath."

screen-shot-2018-09-27-3
Six-year-old Maddox Ritch, a non-verbal boy with autism who was found dead in September died due to a probable drowning, according to an autopsy report released by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI)
Maddox Ritch Cause of Death Revealed as Probable Drowning, Autopsy Report Says | U.S.