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Father of missing boy with autism said he panicked when he lost sight of him

Search for missing boy
Search for missing boy 02:00

GASTONIA, N.C. – The father of a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a North Carolina park over the weekend said it has been hard to sleep. Ian Ritch said on "Good Morning America" Wednesday that he was walking with Maddox at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia on Saturday when the boy ran ahead and he panicked when he lost sight of him.

On Tuesday, the boy's mother, Carrie, tearfully asked anyone who was at the park to call the tip line.

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Maddox Ritch went missing Saturday. FBI

"I would appreciate it, if you were at the park Saturday and saw Maddox, to please, urgently, please, call the tip line, please," she said.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said the search for the little boy included a landfill just a few miles from where he was last seen.

"We have followed more than 150 leads, conducted hundreds of interviews, gathered surveillance video from stores all over the area. Searched thousands of acres of land on foot, with ATVs and by boat. But we haven't found Maddox," said Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton.

Helton said, in particular, investigators still want to speak to speak to a jogger and anyone in a group photographing three children in Dr. Seuss costumes. He said they may have important information.

Maddox has autism and is nonverbal. Investigators have been playing a message with his parents' voices over loudspeakers, hoping to lure him out of the woods.

He was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with the words "I'm the man" written on it.

If you have any information, please contact the Gastonia Police Department at (704) 869-1075, or your local FBI office.
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