Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are reporting that a body found around 1:00 p.m.in a creek is likely that of a missing six-year-old.
Maddox, a 6-year-old autistic boy who doesn't speak, reportedly vanished from the Gastonia area park on Saturday.
But on Thursday, the hunt appeared to have come to an end.
Search crews have found a body they believe to be that of a 6-year-old boy who ran off from his father at a park. "We searched everywhere." He said during the call that Maddox's parents were still searching for their son.
Officials said the investigation is ongoing. "You should not take away anything from that, except understand that law enforcement, we will not take anything for granted", he said.
Maddox was last seen with his father and another adult at the park around 1:30 p.m. Saturday, according to CNN affiliate WSOC in Charlotte.
"He usually runs but will stop to give me a chance to pick him up", Ian said. "I couldn't see him anywhere". "I didn't see that kid one time".
"We don't want another hour to pass before we find him and bring him home", Helton said this week. "Some time will pass before we are able to say that definitively", he said. He said the area had been searched previously by drones, all-terrain vehicles and foot patrols. I want to know he's safe. I'm not sleeping. I'm just anxious about getting my little boy back.
Maddox has autism and is non-verbal.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to his location.
"He looked back at me and laughed like he normally does. he slowed down a little then he paced himself back up", he said.
Investigators said they have received additional tip calls since the news conference Tuesday afternoon from individuals who were at the park on Saturday. He got out of my view, and that's whenever I never seen him again.
Carrie Ritch, Maddox's mother, asked other parents to keep her son in their prayers.
He said he started to panic once he could no longer see his son.
Ian Ritch said he has some mobility issues related to nerve damage in his feet caused by diabetes.
More than a dozen agencies joined the search, including divers who focused on the lake.
What did the father say?
However, because Maddox is nonverbal, they still have not had any luck finding him.
"Maddox Ritch, a attractive young man, blond hair, blue eyes, out walking this past Saturday with his dad, waking around the lake, looking at turtles, doing the things that a young man would do and this is not the end we hoped for", said Helton, wiping a tear at one point.
The appeal for potential witnesses came as the FBI's Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team searched the lake Wednesday with sonar and agents trained "to locate even the smallest possible piece of evidence underwater", Gastonia police said in a statement. Both parents begged the public to call the tip line at 704-869-1075 with any information about their son.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Ritch said: 'He likes running.
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