A desperate family needs your help. A 6-year-old boy with autism has gone missing, and his parents are desperate to find him.
Because young Maddox Ritch has autism, North Carolina authorities are using a special technique to help find him.
They are playing a recorded message of the lost boy’s parents voices to help locate his whereabouts.
Authorities are hoping that if Maddox hears his parents’ voices, he will come out of Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, North Carolina, where he went missing if he is still there, FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan told reporters on Monday.
Maddox disappeared on Saturday while walking with his father and another adult in the park area. According to CNN, Maddox ran ahead of the two adults during a walk around the lake and then disappeared.
“I couldn’t catch up with him,” Ian Ritch, the boy’s father, told CNN. “I feel guilt for letting him get so far ahead of me before I started running after him.”
Ian has been racked with guilt and blames himself for the entire situation.
“Everybody looks at you as a monster, and I regretted it since the moment it happened,” Ian told Good Morning America.
“It’s hard to sleep,” he said. “I feel guilty because I can go to a house and lay down on the bed and he’s out there in the woods sleeping on the ground and that’s very upsetting.”
The FBI has announced a $10,000 reward to anyone that provides information that helps lead officials to Maddox’s location.
Because the boy is nonverbal, it has made it difficult for officials to locate him. Dogs, drones, sonar and infrared have been employed to help search for the boy. Officials have also drained the 80-acre lake to see the shoreline region better.
“We’re going to explore all possibilities, including abduction, but we’re also going to make sure we search every inch of land around here to make sure that he’s not simply lost,” Kaplan told reporters Sunday.
The lost boy is white with blond hair and blue eyes. He stands four feet tall and weighs approximately 45 pounds. Maddox was last seen with an orange T-shirt and black shorts with a white stripe. The T-shirt says “I am the man,” written across it.
The boy’s mother, Carrie Ritch, told reporters Tuesday that her son has a contagious smile and laugh. Maddox loves to play in the park, bouncy balls and teddy bears, she added.
“Continue praying for him because I just want my baby home, please, whatever you can do,” she pleaded. “Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living. He’s mama’s boy.”
If anyone has any information about Maddox’s whereabouts, we urge you to call the Gastonia police tip line at 704-869-1075.
Our thoughts and prayers are with this family and we hope this dear little boy is found soon.
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