FBI joins search for Maddox Ritch, missing 6-year-old boy in North Carolina

FBI and local authorities were told that the boy has autism and is nonverbal.
by Farnoush Amiri /  / Updated 

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The FBI and two dozen agencies are working to locate a missing 6-year-old boy with special needs who went missing in North Carolina on Saturday.

Maddox Ritch was last seen by his father and another adult at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, according to local police.

The FBI arrived in Gastonia Sunday to assist the city's police and fire departments, along with other local agencies, with the search. Around 100 people searched the more than 1,400 acres in and around the park on Sunday.

Image: Maddox Ritch
The FBI has joined in on the search for Maddox Ritch.Gastonia Police Dept.

GPD also had search and rescue teams working overnight, according to the agency's Facebook page. Neighboring Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department also sent in their helicopter to help with an aerial search through the night.

Gastonia Police were also told informed that Maddox has autism and is nonverbal. Maddox was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with "I am the man" written on the front.

"Maddox's family has been interviewed and is working closely with us," Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton told local NBC affiliate, WCNC.

"At this time, they ask for privacy and prayers. Every second counts when a child is missing. Our focus is to find Maddox as quickly as possible and to bring him home."

Authorities have issued a tip line for anyone who has any information or was at the park at the time of the boy's disappearance.

An AMBER Alert has not been issued because Ritch's disappearance "has not fit the criteria," FBI special agent Jason Kaplan told WCNC.

Local police have canceled all activities at the park as it will remain closed to the public until further notice.

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