Search for Maddox Ritch expands to marshlands, dense woods

The ongoing search for missing 6-year-old Maddox Ritch has now expanded into marshlands and dense woods surrounding Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia, authorities said. 

The FBI's Underwater Search and Evidence Response Team is in the water Thursday at Rankin Lake Park as part of their continuing search efforts to find 6-year-old Maddox. 

Authorities said this special team has different sonar equipment that have been used in previous searches and they have specialized training to locate even the smallest possible piece of evidence underwater. 

Related: Father says search for missing 6-year-old son has been "torture"

NC Emergency Management teams have broadened their search area deeper into the marshlands and further east and north through the dense woods surrounding the park. 

Gastonia police said they have located possible witnesses that they wanted to find, however, they're still searching for a male jogger that was in the area Saturday and a new possible witness that they hope to speak to: 

  • A young white man using the boat ramp. He had backed his truck in and appeared to be loading up his silver kayak. The truck is described as a large, newer model, 4-door white, pick-up truck. It had oversized tires and running boards on the side. The man was talking on the phone and had on a camouflage baseball hat. He may be a valuable witness.

"Please call us, you may be able to help us find Maddox. The special tip line number is 704-869-1075. Again, that number is 704-869-1075," Gastonia police said.