He said he and others were walking around the track when a jogger passed by and that is when Maddox started running.
"He initially took off, just a little ways, maybe 25, 30 feet from me, and then he went to a major sprint after that. I couldn't see him anywhere".
"I was in my vehicle and something told me go get a bear, put a prayer cloth on there and take it out there and get as close as you can to that park and put it up for that little boy", she said.
Maddox, who is autistic and non-verbal, liked to run, Ritch said.
The distraught dad and his friend searched alongside park staff members to help and after an hour dialled 911 for help.
Ian Ritch said he has some mobility issues related to nerve damage in his feet caused by diabetes. I thought we would have found him and there was no reason to call police until that time period. He said once he couldn't see his son, he got scared.
Police released on Wednesday the 911 call that was made after Maddox was reported missing. "We have gotten calls from many people in the community eager to help and we appreciate that".
"Maddox is described as 4'0" tall, weighing 45 pounds with blonde hair. He was last seen wearing an orange t-shirt that says "I'm the man" and black shorts with a white stripe.
Hundreds of officers were involved in the search for Maddox.
The FBI dive team was deployed Thursday to search the lake.
Gastonia Fire Chief Phil Welch said the city would be draining Rankin Lake, an 80-acre late that is 12.5 feet deep in some places.
Kaplan said investigators were still looking into Maddox's previous whereabouts, his movements, and how he ended up there. "Please call the tip line". "He loves Bouncy Balls and he loves his teddy bear", she said.
"I just want to say: I want my baby back in my arms", Ritch said about her young son, crying. The autopsy also will make a definitive determination of his identity, although investigators say there was little doubt that it was Maddox who was found. "Everybody looks at you like a monster and I regretted it since the moment its happened".
"It's hard to sleep".
"She's not even here yet and I couldn't even imagine something happening to her", she said, referring to her daughter.
"I'm not eating", he said. He said he just wants his little boy back home. "We need to talk to every single person who was there, you may know something that could help us".
Police said they have so far received about 150 leads related to the case.
The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Maddox.
Children with autism are often prone to wandering or bolting away.
Police have closed Martin Luther King Road from Rankin Lake Road to Grier Beam Road and have asked media to gather at Sims Legion Park. Hoping he would respond to his parents' voices, authorities pumped prerecorded messages into Rankin Lake Park.
"Instead of having our detectives investigating or search because they believe something has changed".