The Latest: Father says search for missing son is “torture”

Carrie Ritch cries as Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton stands with her during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Gastonia, N.C., as she talks about her 6-year-old son Maddox Ritch who went missing Saturday, Sept. 22, from Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. The FBI has joined the search. (John Clark/The Gaston Gazette via AP)

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the search for a missing 6-year-old North Carolina boy (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The father of a missing 6-year-old North Carolina boy said the search for his son has been “torture.” He said he just wants his little boy back home.

Ian Ritch joined Gastonia police and FBI agents for a news conference Wednesday, hours after appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to talk about Maddox Ritch. The boy disappeared Saturday as he walked with his father at Rankin Lake Park.

Ian Ritch said his son ran a short distance from him before he broke into a sprint. The father said Maddox usually runs away, but would either slow down or stop. He said once he couldn’t see his son, he got scared.

With the help of friends who were walking with them, Ritch searched for his son but couldn’t find him. Park personnel also joined in the search but didn’t see Maddox, either.

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1:01 p.m.

The father of a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a North Carolina park over the weekend says it has been hard to sleep.

Ian Ritch said on “Good Morning America” Wednesday that he was walking with Maddox at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia on Saturday when the boy ran ahead and he panicked when he lost sight of him.

On Tuesday, the boy’s mother, Carrie, tearfully asked anyone who was at the park to call the tip line.

Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton says they’ve searched thousands of acres, drained the lake and conducted hundreds of interviews. Helton says, in particular, investigators still want to speak to speak to a jogger and anyone in a group photographing three children in Dr. Seuss costumes. He says they may have important information.

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