'Everybody looks at you as a monster' Father of NC boy speaks for the first time since Maddox Ritch went missing

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Maddox Ritch's dad speaks for first time about missing son
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Maddox Ritch, a 6-year-old with special needs, has been missing since Sept. 22. His father Ian spoke to ''Good Morning America'' about his guilt and the day his son went missing.

GASTONIA, N.C. -- The father of Maddox Ritch, a missing 6-year-old who has special needs, says he can't stand the thought of where his son might be right now.

"It's been hard to sleep," Ian Ritch told Good Morning America on Wednesday. "I feel guilty because I can go into a house, lay down in a bed, and my little boy might be out there in the woods."

Ian and an unidentified adult were with Maddox, who has autism and is non-verbal, when he was last seen on Saturday at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, North Carolina, police said. Ian said Maddox ran off, and he tried to catch up to him but couldn't.

"I wouldn't have let him got so far away from me," he said. "I could see him until a certain point. He got out of my view. And that's when I never seen him again."

Ian said he's felt regret since the moment his son went missing, but "everybody looks at you as a monster."

The search for Maddox continues, with teams using loudspeakers projecting his parents' voices. Police have also looked through dumpsters, followed more than 150 leads, and even drained a lake.

A $10,000 reward has been set up for information that helps find him. Maddox's mother, Carrie Ritch, is pleading with the public to send in any tips they might have.

"Maddox is my whole world and my reason for living," she said. "I want my baby back in my arms."