After an intense search involving local authorities and the FBI, the body of six-year-old Maddox Ritch was discovered Thursday in a creek just one mile from the North Carolina park, where he first disappeared.
In a gut-wrenching Facebook post about the tragic development, Maddox’s father, Ian Ritch, wrote, “Today I found out I’m not a dad anymore. I had big plans with my son.”
“I wanted us to go fishing, play ball, go camping. I wanted to be his heroe [sic],” he continued. “I wanted him to say I was more than Superman or Batman to him. I wanted people to ask him who his heroe [sic] is and him say, ‘My daddy.’”
Read his full post:
Gastonia Police confirmed that Maddox’s body was discovered around 1 p.m. Thursday, near a local highway.
“The chief and I saw Maddox and it is absolutely amazing that he was found,” FBI special agent Jason Kaplan said, noting how camouflaged the little boy’s body was. “It was extremely difficult to see him even when we were standing right next to him. He was in the creek, in water. Partially underwater.”
He went on to note it’s “too early” in the process to know whether foul play was involved.
Maddox’s body was discovered after he disappeared around lunchtime last Saturday, when he and his, dad along with another adult, were at the park. More than a dozen agencies participated in the search.
Kaplan said it’s not uncommon for children on the spectrum to get lost or go missing, noting the FBI deals with such incidents with “some frequency.”