Search for missing autistic 6-year-old in Gastonia develops more than 80 leads



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GASTONIA, N.C. — Dozens of leads are lined up in the search for a missing autistic 6-year-old boy in Gaston County, according to WCNC.

Gastonia police now have more than 80 leads and detailed how officials are looking for Maddox Ritch, the missing boy.

Police asked anyone who was at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday, the place and day he went missing, to call the public tip line: (704) 869-1075.

“We have spoken to many people who were there, but we want to make sure we talk to them all,” Chief Robert Helton said, according to WCNC. “No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case.”

Gastonia police are using drones and checking dumpsters to search any possible spot the boy could have ended up.

Officials are giving special attention to the lake. Police are draining the water to see the shoreline and bringing out K-9 officers to look for leads.

WCNC reports recorded messages of the boy’s mother and father are being played during the search in hopes of evoking a response.

More than 20 agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are now involved.

Maddox Ritch was last reported seen at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia on Saturday. He was there with his father and another adult. Ritch was wearing an orange shirt with the words, “I’M THE MAN” and closed-toed sandal-like shoes.

He has blonde hair and blue eyes, stands at 4 feet tall and weighs about 45 pounds.

The boy is also nonverbal.

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