‘I’m Not a Dad Anymore’: Father of 6-Year-Old With Autism Found Dead Speaks About Guilt He Feels

by San Eli News

On Thursday, authorities announced that they found the body of Maddox Scott Ritch, a North Carolina 6-year-old with autism, who vanished on Saturday.

As Dearly previously reported, Maddox was visiting Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia with his father, Ian Ritch, when he disappeared.

The father claims that the child chased after a jogger and that he “couldn’t catch up” with him. The 6-year-old’s body was found in a creek near the park.

Police Handout

Now, Ian is speaking out about his loss and the “guilt” he feels over that day.

In a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday, the father wrote, in part:

I loved that lil boy he was my best lil buddy. Maddox was my only child and he will be the only one i will ever have. I wasnt so worried 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 worried. Once sunday morning came thats when it startes me thinking i had something to worry about

He continued:

Now today i found out im not a dad anymore. I had big plans with my son. I wanted us to go fishing play ball go camping. I wanted to be his heroe (sic). I wanted him to say i was more than superman or batman to him. Iwanted people to ask him who his heroe (sic) is and him say my daddy. Now im no heroe (sic) i couldnt save him or protect him at all. I would give anything to go back and save him.

Ian Ritch/Facebook

Before Maddox’s body was discovered, Ian stated that he was the “number one suspect.” Police have not yet stated if he is, in fact, a suspect, or if foul play was involved.

In the father’s post, he acknowledged that some view his story as suspicious. He wrote:

While a lot of people dont believe anything i have said in the past believe this. 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.

The father concluded by saying he couldn’t wait to see Maddox in “heaven” and that this was the “last response” he planned on giving.

FBI Charlotte said the investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the tip line at 704-869-1075.