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HairOfTheDog, I agree.  To call it murder is premature as was the description of his body being mutilated. I can only guess the reported talked to people who speculated and took it as fact. 

I do see believable reports that Maddox was found in an area that had been searched 2 previous times. About an hour before the 3rd and more exhaustive search two people were seen photographing and collecting some evidence. That third search resulted in his discovery. It has also been stated he could not have entered the lake and floated to where he was found in the stream because there are screens that would block this from happening. He had to wander out of the park along a paved path that traverses under route 321 where it is suspected he entered the water. Speculation is heavy rains on Wednesday night carried his body further down to the area of Old Dallas Rd where the stream goes under a bridge. There is no paved path here, only a hard to follow dirt path.
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Yeah, I've seen LE-confirmed reports that the recovery site had been searched twice before the remains were discovered too Ski.  

That's happened many times in cases I've followed. Most times the previous searches simply failed to locate the remains, though they'd  been there all along.  Sometimes, however, it turned out foul play was involved and  the remains had been moved from one location to another.  

I very much hope Maddox simply died accidentally and died quickly.  That's a strong possibility based on what's known now.  If that's what happened, his father will probably live with a ton of guilt for the rest of his life.
Maddox's obituary made me tear up.  Sweet boy.

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“Maddox was a sweet and loving little boy who was full of laughter,” his obituary reads. “He loved Paw Patrol, his Teddy, playing with his bouncy balls, but above all he loved his mom and dad the most.”

At Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home in Huntersville, North Carolina, Maddox’s visitation will be held on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 7 to 9 p.m., and his funeral will be held on Friday, Oct. 5 at 11 a.m., the obituary noted. A private burial will also take place.

I watched a whole lot of Paw Patrol with my grand nephew when he was here a few months ago.
Three weeks after a 6-year-old special needs boy was found in a creek bed outside Rankin Lake Park, police are still looking for answers to Maddox Ritch’s death.

Gastonia Police said Thursday they’re still trying to figure out how he ended up where he was found and what caused his death. 

The department has yet to receive the results of toxicology reports or an autopsy from the medical examiner’s autopsy, according to Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton.

“While we await those final medical examiner’s reports, which can take weeks or even months, our work continues to piece together his last movements,” Helton said. 

“We appreciate the continued support, patience, and understanding of our community. The Gastonia Police Department will do everything possible to learn the facts of what happened in the final moments of Maddox’s life. Please continue to pray for his family, friends and each other.”