GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Since Saturday authorities have asked neighbors to stay away from the Rankin Lake park so trained professionals can search the area after six-year-old Maddox Ritch who has autism and is non-verbal went missing. That has not stopped Maddox’s community from trying to help 75 hours later.
“He’s just sitting there waiting on somebody to come and get him,” said Janet Hayes, who shed tears while speaking with reporters.
Gastonia police and FBI agents say Maddox was last seen at Rankin Lake Park– and his disappearance has garnered nearly 250 firefighters, police officers and other emergency officials from several different counties in hopes of finding the six–year-old.
Police officers have asked that the public not get involved and to leave the search to the professionals, but folks in the community say they have a hard time doing that and have shown up anyway only to be turned away.
“It hurts my heart until this little boy is found and it’s so close to home," Hayes.
The reason why officials haven’t asked for help in the search is because they want to make sure this doesn’t turn messy. Maddox’s father who is said to have been at the park with him that day has been on site with officials and is retracing his steps from that Saturday.
“But they’re not looking out there,” said, Dee Folwell, another concerned resident who was referring to an area outside of the park.
Regardless of what officials said, the community still believes more help is needed.
A $10,000 dollar reward is being offered for Maddox’s return and officials say there are several more people who were at the park that they need to speak to and are asking that they call police immediately.