Maddox Ritch, Autistic Boy Who Vanished From Park, Died in Accidental Drowning: Officials

A 6-year-old North Carolina boy who disappeared while he was playing in a park two months ago died in an accidental drowning, NBC News reports. In an autopsy report released Thursday, the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office reportedly found that Maddox Ritch’s body had “no evidence of trauma.” The office also concluded that wounds on the child’s body were most likely from “postmortem animal predation.” Police said Ritch, who was reportedly autistic and non-verbal, vanished from Rankin Lake Park when he was walking with his father and another adult on Sept. 22. The father said his son was chasing a jogger before he disappeared. He said he tried to catch up to Ritch but lost him. According to NBC News, his body was found “partially submerged in a creek” five days after he disappeared. The Gastonia Police Department also said Thursday that it does not expect to file criminal charges in the case.