Father of missing 6-year-old Gastonia boy says he knows he is the ‘number 1 suspect’

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Ian Ritch and Maddox Ritch

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The search continues for missing 6-year-old Gastonia boy Maddox Ritch.

Ian Ritch was with his son, who has autism and is nonverbal, at Rankin Lake Park Saturday when he says the boy ran off and he couldn’t keep up.

On Wednesday, Ritch told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud he knows he is under scrutiny.

“I mean, I know I’m the number one suspect when it starts. That’s plain and simple,” Ritch said after being asked by Begnaud if he felt he was being treated as a suspect.

Ritch said he has cooperated with the authorities and given them “everything that they’ve asked for.”

“I just want my little boy back home,” Ritch said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “I want to know he’s safe. I want to give him a big hug as soon as I see him.”

The FBI and numerous other agencies have been searching for the boy ever since he disappeared.

Police said Maddox is 4 feet tall and weighs 45 pounds. He has blond hair and blue eyes. Maddox was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with the words “I am the man,” along with black shorts and closed-toe sandals.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to his location.

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