A body believed to be that of 6-year-old Maddox Ritch has been found in a creek near Rankin Lake Park, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has reported.
Maddox's parents have been notified of the discovery, according to the FBI.
With heavy hearts we announce a body believed to be 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was found at approximately 1 p.m. off of Marietta Street/Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia. Maddox’s parents have been notified of the discovery. The investigation is ongoing.
— FBI Charlotte (@FBICharlotte) September 27, 2018
Ian Ritch, Maddox's father, said he and his son frequently walked in Rankin Lake Park. That's where they were Saturday, he said. Ritch said his son often ran ahead of him, and then would slow down and wait for him to catch up.
But on Saturday, the boy, who has autism and is nonverbal, ran too far ahead, and Ian Ritch lost sight of him.
Ian said he "started panicking."
"We were walking on a track around the lake and he decided to take off from me. ... I didn’t think nothing of it and he got a little too far away from me," Ian Ritch told "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "As soon as I got to the point where I couldn’t see him anymore, I started panicking. I couldn’t see him anywhere."
The FBI and numerous other agencies have been searching for the boy ever since.
Authorities had said they were investigating all possibilities into what led to Maddox's disappearance.
"If you were at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox or took video or photos of their outing at the park, call us," Helton said Sunday. "We know a lot of people were in the park, and we have spoken to many of them, but we have not spoken to everyone. No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case."
The FBI offered a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to his location.