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FBI: Body of missing NC boy Maddox Ritch found in Gastonia

GASTONIA, N.C. (WNCN) - The body of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was found Thursday in a marshy area east of where he went missing, the FBI says. 

The boy, who was nonverbal due to his autism, was reported missing Saturday from Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. 

At approximately 1 p.m. Thursday, search crews discovered Maddox Ritch's body partially underwater off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia.

The boy's body was found in a creek at least a mile from the park where he disappeared.

Gastonia's fire chief said the site where the body was discovered had been searched several times before. 

Drones and foot patrols searched the area as recently as Tuesday.  

The FBI said it is too early to tell if foul play was involved in the boy's death. 

More than two dozen agencies, including the FBI, assisted with the search on ground and in the water over the last.

Members of the FBI dive team searched Rankin Lake in the park where Ritch went missing Saturday.

The specialized dive team used “different equipment” than what was previously used during searches of the lake.

Law enforcement agencies continue pleading with the public, asking anyone who was at the park Saturday to come forward.


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