GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Robert Lowery, the Vice President of Missing Children at the NCMEC, sat down with On Your Side Tonight anchor Jamie Boll Tuesday evening and spoke about the ongoing efforts to find Maddox Ritch.
Lowery pointed out that the “natural inclination” of the public is to blame the parents when children go missing but that this is oftentimes incorrect. He explained that for children on the autism spectrum, Maddox’s behavior at the park was not out-of-the-ordinary.
“Children on the spectrum may not demonstrate that level of fear, say, when it comes to darkness or any of the other things that may be out there," said Lowery. "Even just being alone. So we can’t give up hope until we’ve located this child.”
Lowery stressed the resilience of children who are on the spectrum and explained that they can be very “resilient” in situations such as these. He suggested that the common things that other children may fear such as being alone or in the dark may not worry children with autism.
Lowery suggested that due to the sheer size of the current containment area where the search is taking place, efforts will involve a significant number of personnel and different operations but expressed confidence that Maddox has not gotten out of that area.
“When it comes to searching for these children – we tell people to get on your hands and knees and look in those places where a child could possibly conceal themselves, because children do have a tendency – especially children on the spectrum to seek tight and closed spaces," said Lowery.
Footage of some of these rescue efforts can be seen in footage taken by Sky3 below:
Maddox’s mother spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday, on day four of the search for the little boy. “Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living," Carrie Ritch said. "His smile is so contagious and his laughter is so precious”
The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the location of Maddox.
The new tip line number is 704-869-1075.