Dad Says Missing Boy Ran Off While at Park

Ian Ritch says he couldn't catch up with the 6-year-old
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2018 6:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – The search for a 6-year-old autistic boy in North Carolina entered its fifth day Wednesday. "It's been torture," Ian Ritch tells CBS. Ritch's son, Maddox, who does not speak, disappeared Saturday while Ritch, his girlfriend, and the boy were Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. Ritch says Maddox ran away, "and I just never could catch up with him," adding that diabetes-related neuropathy in his feet makes it difficult for him to run. Ian Ritch says he thought the boy may have been lost in the woods, but now he has doubts, adding, "It makes me wonder if somebody got him in the parking lot." In the course of the search, local, state, and federal authorities have followed more than 150 leads, used dogs, and partially drained an 80-acre lake. They have also blasted recordings of his parents' voices, hoping to draw Maddox out.

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Police also want to talk to a kayaker, a jogger and a photographer, all of whom were in the area when Maddox disappeared, CNN reports "Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living," the boy's mother, Carrie Ritch, said during a Tuesday press conference. Asked by CBS whether he harmed his son in any way, Ian Ritch answered "no." He says he took and passed two polygraph tests. "Everyone looks at you as a monster," Ian Ritch said during a Good Morning America interview. "I regretted it since the moment it happened." Maddox is 4 feet tall and weighs 45 pounds. He was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt that read "I am the man." Anyone with info is asked to call 704-869-1075. (Read more missing child stories.)

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