Expert analyzes federal investigation in case of missing boy

Expert analyzes federal investigation in case of missing boy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A former FBI assistant director said the FBI likely knows much more than it's going to admit publicly in the case of a 6-year-old boy who vanished Saturday from Rankin Lake Park in Gastonia.

Before eventually retiring from the FBI, Chris Swecker led the bureau's office in North Carolina. He said he's very familiar with investigations such as this missing persons case.

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Swecker is not involved in the search for Maddox Ritch, but as an experienced former federal agent, he's concerned for the boy's safety.

“You wonder how a child can wander off, and not be quickly retrieved or found by whoever was with the child -- the adults with the child,” Swecker said. “It begs the question: Was there any involvement on the part of the parents? I'm sure they're looking at it very closely.”

Investigators have been searching for Maddox nonstop since he reportedly ran off at the park.

FBI agents at the scene said they're considering every possibility, but they won't say much more than that.

“They're going to hold things very close to the vest,” Swecker said. “They know a lot right now. I'm sure they have a pretty good sense of what's going on here.”

Investigators have been going from door to door asking residents near the park if they know anything.

“Those that are in proximity to an abduction, if this was in fact an abduction, that I'm sure they're looking at that very, very closely,” Swecker said. “This is one of those cases where you haven't ruled out the parents, but you also haven't ruled out a flat-out abduction, particularly by people in the general area that know the park well.”

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