Maddox Ritch update: Autistic boy’s cause of death could take weeks, even months; investigators still trying to determine how he ended up in a creek [Police]

The autopsy for a South Carolina boy found deceased three weeks ago is not complete yet and according to authorities, the public will likely need to wait weeks, possibly months before the results are in.

Maddox Ritch, a 6-year-old non-verbal autistic boy, was found submerged in a shallow creek on September 27, around a mile east of his last known location. A searcher found the boy while walking down the middle of a rural area in Long Creek. Maddox disappeared on September 22 while with his father Ian Ritch, 42, at the Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. Ian Ritch said his son ran ahead of him and before he could catch up with the boy, he had disappeared.

On Thursday, the Gastonia Police Department announced that they’re still working on the case and trying to figure out how the little boy ended up dead, less than two miles from his last known location.  Police Chief Robert Helton stated that they have not yet received Maddox’s autopsy or toxicology reports, which will likely hold the answers as to how he died.

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Missing boy Maddox Smith
Maddox Ritch [Handout]

“While we await those final medical examiner’s reports, which can take weeks or even months, our work continues to piece together his last movements,” Helton explained, according to the Gaston Gazette. “We appreciate the continued support, patience, and understanding of our community. The Gastonia Police Department will do everything possible to learn the facts of what happened in the final moments of Maddox’s life. Please continue to pray for his family, friends and each other.”

As CrimeOnline previously reported, FBI Supervisory Agent Jason Kaplan, who said Maddox’s body was camouflaged and “mixed in a harsh environment” when found, said the investigation is far from over.

Meanwhile, authorities are still seeking tips. Anyone who visited Rankin Lake Park on September 22, who hasn’t already spoken to the police, should contact the Gastonia Police tip line 704-869-1075.

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[Feature Photo: Maddox Ritch/Handout]