A North Carolina boy who disappeared from a Gastonia area park on Saturday is still missing, and authorities are hoping to lure him out with recordings of his parents’ voices.
On Monday, FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan said authorities are exploring all options in hopes of finding 6-year-old Maddox Ritch. The little boy disappeared on Saturday at around 1:30 p.m. while at Rankin Lake Park with his father and another adult. Authorities said Maddox ran ahead of the adults and before anyone could catch up to him, he disappeared. Since then, a massive hunt has ensued for the child, who’s autistic and non-verbal.
According to Inside Edition, authorities are using recorded voices of Maddox’s parents, hoping that hearing their voices will persuade him to come out of hiding, if indeed he is still in the area. Investigators said that they are also considering the possibility of an abduction.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the FBI sent in a “special team” with extensive experience and training with missing children cases. Authorities said they are also trying to determine whether the little boy is lost or possibly abducted. At this point, there are no clear answers but police are hoping someone at the park may have saw something that could help them find Maddox.
“If you were at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox or took video or photos of their outing at the park, call us,” Chief Robert Helton of the Gastonia Police Department said. “We know a lot of people were in the park and we have spoken to many of them, but we have not spoken to everyone. No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case.”
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) also joined in the search efforts. The organization stated Maddox may be in need of medication.
“Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for special needs children, or a boy who has autism or a girl who has autism, to get lost or be missing so it’s something we deal with, unfortunately, with some frequency so the FBI has special resources,” FBI supervisory special agent Jason Kaplan said, according to the Gaston Gazette.
Maddox is 4-feet-tall and weighs around 45 pounds. He has blonde hair, blue eyes and was last seen wearing black shorts and an orange shirt with “I’m the Man” printed on the front.
Anyone with any information on the little boy’s whereabouts should call Gastonia police at 704-866-3300.
The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Maddox Ritch/Handout]