The FBI and two dozen other agencies have descended on a park in North Carolina for an all-hands-on-deck search for 6-year-old Maddox Ritch, who disappeared Saturday.
Maddox, who is autistic and nonverbal, was with his father and another adult over the weekend at Rankin Lake Park, a 240-acre recreational space not far from Charlotte, when he ran off, according to WCNC-TV. The park also boasts an 80-acre lake.
Police and FBI are asking for your help in finding a 6-year-old boy who went missing near Gastonia, North Carolina Saturday.
Maddox Ritch tipline: 704-869-1075 pic.twitter.com/yBc6utVaWA
— Morning Express with Robin Meade (@MorningExp) September 24, 2018
Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said every official is “working around the clock with one goal in mind, and that is to find Maddox and to bring him home safely.” He stressed the fact that “every second counts when a child is missing.”
More than 100 volunteers have also been participating in the search to find little Maddox.
FBI special agent Jason Kaplan said the federal agency brought in a Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team specifically trained to find missing children to aid in the search for Maddox.
Maddox Scott Ritch, age 6, was last seen at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, NC, on September 22, 2018, wearing an orange t-shirt with writing "I am the man" on it and black shorts with a white stripe. Help the #FBI and @FBICharlotte find him: https://t.co/iVr3JA4b70 pic.twitter.com/77YoRMQTop
— FBI Most Wanted (@FBIMostWanted) September 24, 2018
“We are going to explore all possibilities, including abduction, but we are also going to search every inch of the land around here to make sure that he is not simply lost,” Kaplan said, noting the FBI has so far decided against issuing an Amber Alert, arguing Maddox’s case hasn’t met the criteria for such a notification.
He went on to say it is not uncommon for children on the spectrum to get lost or go missing, adding the FBI deals with similar situations with “some frequency.”
Helton urged anyone with any information to come forward because nothing is “too small” not to share.