Criminal charges are not expected to be filed in connection with the death of a 6-year-old boy who officials say likely drowned after vanishing from a park in North Carolina in September.
Maddox Ritch was reported missing on Sept. 22 after last being seen by his father at Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia. His body was found in a nearby creek five days later.
An autopsy report released Thursday indicates that there was no evidence of trauma on his body.
“The findings are not inconsistent with drowning,” read the report released by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office. “In conjunction with investigative information at this time, which gives no indication of other than an accidental drowning, it seems reasonable to conclude that the likely cause of death is drowning.”
The autopsy findings were not conclusive because of the condition of the body, but authorities believe that no foul play was involved.
The Gastonia Police Department said in a statement that “we do not anticipate any criminal charges being filed in connection with the investigation.”
“We appreciate everyone’s patience and support while we worked to uncover every piece of evidence available to bring our death investigation to this conclusion,” the department said in the statement, calling the work by the medical examiner’s office “thorough and detailed.”
Maddox’s father Ian Ritch told investigators that his son disappeared after running off while they were taking a walk in the park. Maddox was autistic and nonverbal, and his father said he could not catch up with him because he has neuropathy in his feet.