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Maddox Ritch search: Missing North Carolina boy's father opens up in emotional interview

Maddox Ritch search: Missing North Carolina boy's father opens up in emotional interview

The desperate search for a 6-year-old North Carolina boy who vanished from a Gastonia park entered its fifth day Wednesday. >> Watch the news report here Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the return of Maddox Ritch. The boy was last seen Saturday at Rankin Lake Park with his father and a friend. Here are the latest updates: Update 6:19 a.m. EDT Sept. 26: For the first time, we are hearing from 6-year-old Maddox Ritch's father Ian Ritch in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America.” Ian Ritch said he and a friend were with Maddox last Saturday at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia when Maddox decided to take off and got too far away from him.  'We were walking on a track around the lake. He just decided to take off from me and I let him go a little bit because he likes running so I didn't think nothing of it. He just got a little too far away from me before I could catch up to him,' Ian Ritch said.  Ian said he started to panic as soon as it got to the point where he could not see Maddox anymore.  'I'd love to let you see the difference between him running and you running 'cause he's pretty fast,' Ian Ritch said. It's hard, I'm so worried, and scared hoping that he's OK out there.' Ian Ritch said he wishes he could have handled the situation differently.  'I should've called him. I should've not let him get so far ahead of me before I started after him,' Ian Ritch said. 'It's been hard to sleep. I feel guilty because I can go into a house and lay down in a bed and my little boy might be out there in the woods sleeping on the ground. That's very upsetting.'  >> Watch a clip from the interview here Search crews patroled overnight on foot and on ATVs to continue the search for Maddox, authorities said in a news release Tuesday night.  Rankin Lake Park remains closed to the public.  Several tips were called into authorities after investigators held a news conference earlier in the day. Although the community is not allowed to help with search efforts at the park, several people gathered at a nearby parking lot Tuesday night to hold a vigil. “A lot of us are running off little sleep, no appetites, because it doesn't make sense,” resident Ashley Dolby said. About 30 people were there, who felt connected to the boy. “All we can do is pray,” resident Kara Smart said. “Keep hope alive and let police do their job.” Update 4:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 25:  Maddox Ritch’s mother, Carrie, is pleading for help, asking anyone who may have seen her son to come forward. 'Continue praying for him, because I just want my baby home,' she said, breaking down in tears during a news conference on Tuesday. 'Please, anything you can do.' The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the child. The little boy with special needs disappeared Saturday from a park in Gastonia. Officials said search crews on ATVS checked new areas around the park Tuesday, looking for any trace of the boy.  Gastonia police officers and troopers went door-to-door Tuesday morning at businesses along Highway 321 just a few blocks away from the park. They were trying to obtain security camera footage that could reveal what happened to the child. An employee at a local business said law enforcement has come to the shop six times since the boy went missing looking for video. “They’ve checked the dumpsters, we’ve seen them go from business to business, and they’ve just been in and out of our office,” Faith Gates said. Gates also said it’s comforting knowing that investigators are thoroughly searching for the the boy. Update 10:05 a.m. EDT Sept. 25: Officials said they're using recorded messages from Maddox's mother and father to play during the search, hoping he'll recognize their voices. Neighbors told WSOCTV that the terrain around the park has many deep holes and they were concerned that Maddox could have fallen in one. 'Pray to God that they find him alive,' resident Jerry Stewart said. He said there is a lot of wetland around the park, and that it would be easy for a child to step into a deep drop. 'If you get too close and you miss your step, you are going to go somewhere,' Stewart said. Update 10:30 p.m. EDT Sept. 24: Officials said they've received 80 leads as of Monday afternoon, and they're looking into them all. 'No piece of information is too small,” Gastonia Police Chief Rob Helton said. “Something that you may think is insignificant can help us.' Later in the evening, local and federal authorities posted to social media outlets asking people to not spread rumors. 'The Gastonia Police Department and the FBI ask the public not to spread rumors on social media about the search for Maddox Ritch,' the post read.  >> On WSOCTV.com: Search for boy with special needs at Gastonia park Original report: Overnight, dozens of people continued to look for the child, and more than two dozen agencies are helping with the search and investigation. Police said Maddox was with his father and another adult, who officials have yet to identify, before he disappeared. Maddox is autistic and nonverbal but officials said there is a special team with the FBI that is highly trained and experienced in mysterious missing children's cases that are working to find him. 'We're going to explore all possibilities, including abduction, but we're also going to make sure we search every inch of land around here to make sure that he's not simply lost,' said FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan. Police said the boy’s family has been interviewed and they are cooperating with law enforcement. >> Read more trending news  On Sunday, search dogs roamed the area near Rankin Lake, where Maddox was last seen. Search boats also checked the lake with divers and sonar devices. Police are asking anyone who may have been at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox, especially if they have pictures or videos, to call them. 'If you were at Rankin Lake Park on Saturday and saw Maddox or took video or photos of their outing at the park, call us,' Helton said. 'We know a lot of people were in the park and we have spoken to many of them, but we have not spoken to everyone. No piece of information is too small. Something you may think is insignificant could be helpful to our case.” Crews have been searching more than 1,400 acres and will continue Monday morning. Search and rescue crews have been patrolling areas of the park on foot and on ATVs. Maddox was last seen at the park at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. He was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt with “I’m the man” on the front. Maddox is 4 feet tall and weighs 45 pounds. He has blond hair and blue eyes. 'They were walking around the lake,” Gastonia spokeswoman Rachel Bagley said. “They got around to the back side of the lake. He started running, according to the parents, and when they started running after him, they lost sight of him, and no one has seen him ever since.' The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's helicopter was used Sunday night once the sun set, and used its infrared technology.  The city confirmed crews are reviewing surveillance video at the park, and crews worked through the night searching on foot and with dogs. Officials said hundreds of volunteer agencies have assisted in the search, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is also helping. Gastonia police said additional search units from around the region have joined the search. They said hundreds of law enforcement, search and rescue teams, and state and federal authorities are now involved.  Officials said they are receiving assistance from the Gastonia Police, Gaston County Sheriff's Department, Gaston County Emergency Management, Gaston County Police, Gastonia and Gaston County Fire Departments, Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, Lincolnton Fire, Charlotte Fire, Stanley Rescue, Lincoln County Land Search team, Spartanburg County Search and Rescue and Search and Rescue Dog Assistance, and Central Carolina K-9 Search Team.  A spokesperson with the city said the park will be closed until further notice as crews continue their search. Police advise the public to stay away from the area surrounding the park as they continue their search in the nearby neighborhoods. Officials are also asking people who live near the park to search areas around their homes where a child might hide. “If you have a shed, barn, wooded area, go take a look and call us immediately if you find anything out of the ordinary,” Helton said. If you have any information regarding Maddox's whereabouts, police encourage you to call the new 24-hour tip line at 704-869-1075. “Every second counts when a child is missing,” Kaplan said. “Our focus is to find Maddox as quickly as possible and to bring him home.”

Deaths of mom, kids found dead in Mississippi River ruled murder-suicide

Deaths of mom, kids found dead in Mississippi River ruled murder-suicide

The Crittenden County Medical Examiner in Arkansas has ruled the death of Memphis, Tennessee, mother Aisha Fair and her two sons a murder-suicide. >> Watch the news report here The news comes several weeks after deputies found Fair and her young boys dead inside a car in the Mississippi River. The Crittenden County Sheriff’s Office said Fair was in an accident on I-40 moments before going into the river in late July.  Investigators said she fled the scene of that accident, drove through a nearby field and into the river, where the bodies were recovered.  Fair, 26; Charvon Lofton, 7; and Jattir Ragland Jr., 2, died in the crash. >> On Fox13Memphis.com: Family identifies Memphis mother and 2 children after drowning in lake Days before driving into the river, Fair posted on GoFundMe and Facebook about her battle with “schizoaffective disorder,” a mental health condition, WHBQ reported. Moments after getting the medical examiner's results, WHBQ’s Tony Atkins sat with Dr. John McCoy, a clinical psychologist of 45 years, to discuss the incident. “Nobody did anything wrong. It’s a genetic medical disorder just like two or three other medically inherited disorders,” said Dr. John McCoy.  He said it's not common for people dealing with mental health issues to become violent.  >> Read more trending news  “Most people who have a severe mental illness are not dangerous, but sometimes they are,” McCoy said.  McCoy said best practices for loved ones are to keep constant communication with those affected by the disorder.  “It helps to know what they’re thinking. It’s a lot better if you know what a person is thinking and the conclusions they’ve come to,” McCoy said. “These are largely inherited and they affect normal, ordinary people that had not idea they had the particular genetic makeup.” WHBQ reached out to Fair’s loved ones about the report but are still working to make contact. 

Senate GOP tries to push Kavanaugh over the finish line

With President Donald Trump leading the charge, Republicans and the White House went on the offensive on Tuesday, accusing Democrats of using flimsy allegations of sexual misconduct in a last-ditch bid to stop the Supreme Court nomination of federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, as GOP leaders vowed a Senate vote as early as next Tuesday.

“We’re going to be moving forward – I’m confident we’re going to win,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters just off the Senate floor, as top Republicans formed a solid political wedge in public, making the argument that ‘vague, uncorroborated allegations’ should not be [More]