GASTONIA, NC (FOX 46 WJZY/AP) - Funeral services have been set for 6-year-old Maddox Ritch, who went missing from a Gastonia park and was found dead after an extensive search.
According to an obituary, a visitation for Maddox Ritch will be held Thursday at a funeral home in Huntersville, followed by a funeral service the next day. The burial will be private.
Ian Ritch, Maddox's father told authorities the little boy ran off as he and a friend walked at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia Sept. 22. Ritch has said he couldn’t catch up with Maddox, who was autistic, because he has neuropathy in his feet due to diabetes.
Gastonia Police Department. said search discovered the body around 1:00 p.m. on Sept. 27 off of Marietta Street and Old Dallas Highway.
"From this moment on for the rest of my life I will live with the guilt of not being there to save my son. The most important person in my life. So when everyone else gets to go back to their normal lives remember that I will never be the same man again. I will now and forever be a broken man until I take my last breath," Ritch wrote in an emotional Facebook post.
The body was found in a creek slightly more than a mile east of the park after days of searching.
It's been taken to the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy. FOX 46 will provide the information from that autopsy as soon as it becomes available.
The Gastonia Police Department continues to ask those who may have been at the park Saturday, Sept. 22 to please contact them. The investigation remains ongoing.