Police Using Unusual Tactic to Bring Home Missing Autistic Boy as Search Continues

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September 25, 2018Sep 25, 2018

Authorities are using a unique method to search for Maddox Ritch, a missing 6-year-old with autism. The little boy went missing in a North Carolina park on Saturday while there with his parents.

FBI and local authorities are desperately searching for him at the Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. Investigators are using divers, helicopters, and drones, reported ABC. They are also using the parents' voices to entreat the little boy, who is non-verbal, to return home.

Authorities have also recorded messages from Maddox's parents and are playing those messages in the woods of the park. They hope that their voices will persuade him to come out if he's there, FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan said Monday.

Children with special needs "tend to be extremely close to their parents," former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett told ABC News. "If you have a kid that can't really communicate but his parents talk to him every day ... I completely understand why they would do it."

Maddox has blond hair and blue eyes. He weighs 45 pounds and is 4 feet tall. At the time of his disappearance, he was wearing black shorts, closed-toe sandals, and an orange T-shirt that reads "I am the Man."

On Monday, authorities checked dozens of dumpsters and went to businesses near the park asking for surveillance video. Police dogs also re-searched the areas.

They also have crews searching the park's lake using sonar and divers.

The boy's family released a statement about his disappearance. They thanked everyone for their prayers and asked the public to allow police to do their jobs.

"I want to thank everyone for showing up to search for Maddox and also thank everyone for their prayers. We are trying to help the police in any way possible. They are still asking the public to just wait and let the professionals handle the search," Maddox's father said in a statement Monday to WCCB in Charlotte.

At a news conference Monday, authorities said Maddox's mother and father have asked for privacy. Their names have not been released.

Police urge anyone who was at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday to call the tip line at 704-869-1075.

"We have spoken to many people who were there, but we want to make sure we talk to them all," Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said in the statement released by police Monday. "No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case."

Please pray for the safe return of this little boy. Read more about his disappearance here.