GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A body has been found in the search for a missing 6-year-old North Carolina boy who has autism and is nonverbal.
Around 2 p.m. Thursday, the FBI Charlotte released a statement saying in part, "With heavy hearts we announce a body believed to be 6-year-old Maddox Ritch was found."
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Officials provide update after body was found
According to the FBI, the body was found in a creek at approximately 1 p.m. off of Marietta Street and Old Dallas Highway in Gastonia, North Carolina.
Maddox went missing last week after his father lost sight of him when he took off running in a North Carolina park.
Authorities were seen searching the wooded area near the park where Maddox went missing. The FBI's Underwater Search & Evidence Response Team was seen searching the water at Rankin Lake Park earlier Wednesday.
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Authorities search wooded area for missing 6-year-old boy
Officials say that the body was found approximately one mile east of the park where he was last seen. The body was found in the marshy area of the creek in approximately 2-3 feet deep water.
The FBI says that Maddox’s parents have been notified of the discovery. Identification of the body will be done by the medical examiner’s office.
Police say that they are continuing to investigate and are asking anyone who was in the park that day to contact law enforcement.