Police, FBI: Search crews discover body believed to be Maddox Ritch

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Identification of the body will be completed by the medical examiner's office.

Maddox was out with his father Ian and another adult in Rankin Lake Park when he went missing at about midday local time (16:00 GMT).

Maddox's parents were notified immediately of the discovery by law enforcement.

The little boy's mother Carrie Ritch appeared at a press conference where she pleaded through tears for help locating her child.

Maddox was 25 to 30 feet away before he broke into a sprint just as a jogger passed them. The father said he is a diabetic and because he has neuropathy in his feet, he has trouble running.

"Many of these children are more likely to respond to a favorite character, a unique interest or familiar voice", said Lori McIlwain, a co-founder and board member of the National Autism Association. However, because Maddox is nonverbal, they still have not had any luck finding him. Investigators hedged their words, but they said that a body found submerged in water probably belonged to him, according to the Charlotte Observer.

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Before today's discovery, his mother Carrie Ritch said her son had a contagious smile and laugh.

Ian told Good Morning America: "He got out of my view, and that is whenever I never seen him again [sic]".

Hundreds of people were in the park on Saturday, including other blond-haired boys also wearing orange T-shirts, Helton said.

According to a 911 call released by police, a caller told authorities Maddox's parents had been searching for him for nearly an hour.

Police scheduled a news conference at 4 p.m.

Last Saturday, his father said Maddox Ritch ran off from him and a friend at Rankin Lake Park and disappeared before he could catch up to him.

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The FBI and more than two dozen local and state police departments have been searching for the missing boy.

"I'm not eating. I'm not sleeping. I'm just anxious about getting my little boy back".

"I just want my little boy back home". I would give anything to go back and save him. "I just pray for the mom".

Ritch said he and his son, along with a friend whose name has not been released, were making their first visit to the 242-acre park.

Some people have tied balloons and brought stuffed bears to the entrance of Rankin Lake Park.

On September 22, Maddox took off running during a walk around the lake, a police spokeswoman said. "You should not take away anything from that, except understand that law enforcement, we will not take anything for granted", he said. "I didn't see that kid one time". "That's plain and simple", Ritch told CBS News, adding that he has cooperated with investigators. I wasnt so anxious about him when all this started on sat because i expected to find him right off over time i got more and more scared and anxious.

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