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Body found in N.C. creek identified as 6-year-old Maddox Ritch


Maddox Ritch, 6, went missing on Sept. 22. A body now confirmed to be his was found five days later. Photo courtesy of Gastonia Police Department

By Ray Downs, UPI

A body found in a North Carolina creek last week has been positively identified as Maddox Ritch, a 6-year-old boy who went missing days before, police said Monday.

The Gastonia Police Department said autopsy results are not yet complete and it is not yet known when they will be completed.

"We are deeply saddened to learn the body found by searchers last Thursday is confirmed to be Maddox Ritch," Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said in a statement. "Hundreds of people searched tirelessly for this child and our work continues to answer every question we can about his tragic death."

Funeral services for Maddox are scheduled for Thursday.

Maddox went missing Sept. 22 while walking with his father, Ian Ritch, at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, N.C. Ritch said Maddox ran away and he couldn't catch up because of neuropathy in his feet due to diabetes.

"We were walking on a track around the lake. He just decided to take off from me and I let him go a little bit because he likes running," Ritch told WSOC-TV. "He just got a little too far away from me before I could catch up to him."

Local authorities and the FBI searched for Maddox for several days until a body was found on Sept. 27. The search was complicated because Maddox had autism and was unable to speak.

It was believed that the body was of Maddox, but a medical examination was necessary for conformation.

"This is not the end that we had hoped for," Helton said last week. "Our community's heartbroken. I've lost a lot of sleep this week worrying about Maddox."


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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Body found in N.C. creek identified as 6-year-old Maddox Ritch
Body found in N.C. creek identified as 6-year-old Maddox Ritch
U.S. - U.S. Daily News
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