Investigators search for clues after body believed to missing 6-year-old boy found

The death of an child with autism who had been missing for days until his body was found has authorities in North Carolina searching for clues as to how he died. FBI Agent Jason Kaplan said investigators still want to hear from people who were in the Gastonia park last weekend when Maddox Ritch ran away from his father.

“In law enforcement, we will not take anything for granted,” Kaplan said Thursday, fighting his emotions, at a news conference where officials announced that a body had been found. 

“So there’s a lot of work, and there’s a lot of people that have lost a lot of sleep and are committed to continuing to making sure we answer every question that we can about where Maddox was, how his movement occurred and how it was that he ended up where he did.”

Kaplan said there has been speculation on the actions of Maddox’s parents, but he said the investigation is focusing on the child’s movements. Specifically, Kaplan said investigators are looking for a man in a white truck who is believed to have seen Maddox before he disappeared. 

“We still want to hear from the other people who have not reached out to us,” Kaplan said. 

The Gastonia Police Department has led the investigation since the boy disappeared. The FBI assisted in the case.

Last Saturday, Ian Ritch said the boy ran off from him and a friend at Rankin Lake Park and disappeared before he could catch up to him. Ritch said neuropathy in his feet brought on by diabetes prevented him from running after Maddox.

Kaplan and Gastonia Fire Chief Phil Welch said the boy’s body was found in about 3 feet of water in a creek, slightly more than a mile east of the park, by a searcher who was walking down the middle of the creek as his partners stood on the bank.

Welch said the area had been searched previously by drones, all-terrain vehicles, kayak teams and foot patrols.

“We were searching on the presumption that he could have moved around,” Welch said. 

CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV spoke to Jeremy Day, who lives with his family about 150 yards away from where Maddox was found.

“Knowing that he was found right there is kind of unsettling,” said Day.

Day said he knows the area well, and he described the terrain where the boy’s body was found as “very thick.” 

“Tall grass, thick brush. It is swampy, and you usually have water down there year-round,” said Day. “The brush is so thick down there it is hard for anyone to walk through there.”

Kaplan saidthat  while it was too early to determine whether foul play was involved in Maddox’s death, investigators would pursue every angle to find out exactly what happened. 

“Where did he enter, how did he get there, what was the manner of death, what was the cause of death? Was there any crime that was committed, or are we simply looking at an accident,” Kaplan said. “Those are very difficult questions to answer, but they are questions that we will answer.”

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump is about to unveil his new version of NAFTA

The Trump administration is expected to release the text of the revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement this evening. It’s the first full-fledged trade treaty negotiated under Donald Trump’s “America First” vision, so free-trade supporters will be poring over it for details of what that means in practice.

One key way in which it scales back free trade: The agreement only includes the US and Mexico, according to reports, as talks with Canada continue. While the country may ultimately join, if it doesn’t, it’s unclear whether Congress would even consider approving the deal. (The US had to file it today in order for Mexico’s outgoing president to sign it before he steps down on Dec. 1.)

For all of those reasons, the document is far from definitive. Still, experts say it will provide some tangible information for businesses and trade officials trying to navigate the uncertainty generated by Trump’s trade policy.

Here’s are a few questions they hope to answer:

How closely does it mirror the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP?

One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the US from the TPP, which essentially was a revamped version of NAFTA that included nine other Pacific Rim countries.

Many of the topics Trump wanted to include in a new NAFTA—digital trade, for example—were already in TPP. Some are expected to be a copy-paste job in the revised deal, but “until you actually look, you can’t know,” says Robert Wolfe, professor emeritus at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario.

Other provisions will be significantly different from TPP, like those on rules of origin, which spell out how much North American content a product must have to avoid tariffs. The US and Mexico already released an outline of the changes. Some analysts predict they will hurt automakers, consumers, and workers, but can’t assess by how much until the text is out.

What’s Trump’s idea of a fair dispute-resolution mechanism?

The US president kicked off NAFTA negotiations saying he wanted to do away with key elements of the agreement’s dispute-settlement system. Early details about the deal with Mexico suggest he succeeded.

The text should provide more details on how Canada—and other countries that trade with the US—could deal with Trump’s qualms about existing dispute-settlement mechanisms, says Robert McDougall, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think tank. The Trump administration is also unhappy with how trade fights get sorted out at the World Trade Organization, and has been blocking judges from being appointed to that body’s appeals court.

What will Trump settle for?

It’s clear that Trump wants to restrict trade. The text should offer details on exactly how far he’s willing to go, and to what extent he’s able to compromise. “The real illumination there is in the US negotiating strategy,” says McDougall. “Can they negotiate bilaterally with one party and try to impose it on another party?”

Another key question in need of an answer: What are the Trump administration’s preferred ways to go after trade. Is it focusing on remaking global production chains, so more things are made in the US? Or is it more interested in dismantling trade rules?

“I don’t think anybody thinks that there’s much good coming out of the negotiations,” says Wolfe. What people want to know now is “to what extent it would require any of the participants to change their policies in ways that may be perceived as unfortunate.”

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Hurricane Rosa weakens to Category 3 as Kirk drenches Caribbean

LOS ANGELES — Hurricane Rosa weakened slightly off Mexico’s Pacific Coast on Friday and is expected to increase surf and rip currents along the Southern California coast this weekend. Surf from 6 to 10 feet is possible on Los Angeles and Ventura County beaches as early as Saturday night or Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Orange County may see seas up to 8 feet while surf could reach 5 feet along San Diego County.

Rosa, which is now Category 3 storm, had maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was located 625 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California as of Friday evening. It was moving west at 6 mph.

It is expected to become a tropical storm by late Sunday as it heads northeast toward the Baja California peninsula. The hurricane center said there were no coastal watches or warnings in effect, but swells generated by Rosa were expected to cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions along portions of southwestern Mexico, the peninsula and southern California.


This image shows the projected path of Hurricane Rosa on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018.

National Hurricane Center

Remnants of the Rosa are expected to hit Arizona on Sunday, bringing heavy rain, high winds and the threat of localized flooding, the National Weather Service said. Forecasters say up to 4 inches could fall in some areas through Wednesday, including Flagstaff, Payson, Prescott and the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The North Rim could see up to 6 inches. 

Forecasters say metro Phoenix, Yuma, and eastern and western Arizona could see widespread rain up to a couple of inches. Normally dry washes could become flooded, as well as low-lying roadways.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Kirk caused power outages and heavy flooding across the eastern Caribbean and forced flight cancellations, officials said Friday. Authorities in Barbados said they helped rescue several people from a flooded home and schools were cancelled in the nearby islands of St. Lucia, Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Meteorologists said that up to 10 inches of rain fell in some parts of Martinique, Dominica and Barbados as they warned of flash floods and mudslides. The hurricane center also warned of heavy rains for St. Croix and Puerto Rico, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria last year and is still recovering from the storm.

Kirk had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was located about 270 miles south-southeast of Puerto Rico. It was moving west at 14 mph. The storm is expected to become a tropical depression Friday night and degenerate into a low pressure trough by late Saturday.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Google Chief Agrees to Testify to Congress

WASHINGTON — Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, toured the nation’s capital this week trying to assuage concerns from both parties about the company’s size and influence, and whether its search results have political bias.

Mr. Pichai, who had largely avoided meeting with lawmakers, will be coming back.

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, who organized a meeting with Mr. Pichai on Friday, said he expected him to attend a congressional hearing later this year. The hearing will address questions of political bias, as well as Google’s potential plans to re-enter the Chinese market, said Mr. McCarthy, the House majority leader.

Mr. Pichai confirmed in a statement that he would testify in “due course.”

In addition, he has agreed to participate in a discussion with other tech industry leaders and President Trump, said Larry Kudlow, the director the National Economic Council.

Google had declined to send Mr. Pichai to testify this month at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about foreign manipulation of social media. The absence upset many lawmakers, leading to his visit this week.

Mr. McCarthy has been one of the most vocal critics of Google, raising accusations that the search engine purposely suppresses conservative views in its results. He has accused Twitter and Facebook of similar bias, joined by other Republican lawmakers who point to the liberal leanings of Silicon Valley as motivation to skew the discovery of information.

The meeting on Friday with Mr. Pichai, which Mr. McCarthy and eight other Republican lawmakers attended, seemed to smooth over relations. But suspicions of political bias remained.

“I see a hearing right now looking at bias, looking at all the issues we talked about, from privacy to China,” Mr. McCarthy said after the meeting. He does not expect the hearing to focus on antitrust concerns and whether Google should be broken up, he added.

After avoiding much of the scrutiny heaped upon its internet rivals over the last year, Google has been thrust into the harsh spotlight in recent weeks. Conservatives have accused the company of using its dominance of online search to provide results slanted against Republicans — a charge the company denies.

Mr. Pichai’s no-show at the hearing this month — captured by images of an empty seat alongside executives from Facebook and Twitter — added to the rancor. Leaks of employee emails discussing ways to counter President Trump’s immigration policy, and video of a companywide meeting that showed executives lamenting his election victory, have also fueled the allegations of bias.

Mr. McCarthy said Mr. Pichai had explained how search worked and how Google’s algorithm, which the company keeps secret, changes over time. In the past, Google has said political ideology is not a factor in any aspect of its search results. It does not, according to the company, collect information about whether a user is conservative or liberal, or categorize web pages by political leanings.

On Thursday and Friday, Mr. Pichai also had meetings with Democratic lawmakers, including one with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader.

Mr. Pichai, in the statement, said the discussions over the two days “with a wide range of congressional leaders were constructive and informative.”

Follow Cecilia Kang and Daisuke Wakabayashi on Twitter: @ceciliakang @daiwaka.

Cecilia Kang reported from Washington, and Daisuke Wakabayashi from San Francisco.

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Harvard Bias-Trial Judge Rejects College’s Bid to Dismiss Suit

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Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings: Preview, pick, all the statistics to know for ‘Thursday Night Football’

This week’s edition of “Thursday Night Football” pits two of the NFC’s inner-circle contenders against each other. But while one of those contenders is off to about as good a start to the season as possible, the other is limping into the matchup. The Rams are 3-0 and look like the most complete team in football. The Vikings, meanwhile, are just 1-1-1 and are coming off a surprising drubbing at the hands of the lowly Bills

Minnesota is dealing with several injuries and now the odd personal matters of star defensive lineman Everson Griffen, who will not play in this game. And the Vikings have to travel to LA on a short week to take on one of football’s best two-way teams, which is operating at the peak of its powers through the early part of the season. That’s a tough ask in even the best of times, and the Vikings do not look like they are in the best of times right now. 

Can the Vikes get things back on track, or will the Rams continue to roll? We’ll find out Thursday night (8:20 p.m., NFL Network, FOX). Here’s how it’ll all go down:

When the Rams have the ball

The Kansas City Chiefs offense has gotten more attention than any in football through the first three weeks of the season, and with Patrick Mahomes seemingly setting a new record every other pass attempt, that attention has been warranted. But the Rams’ offense has been nearly as impressive. 

Consider this: through three games, Sean McVay’s unit ranks third in the league in both yards and points per game … despite also ranking dead last in drives per game. The average NFL team has run 35.8 drives this season, while the Rams have run just 29. The Rams have just been absurdly efficient, and as such rank second behind only the Chiefs in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA. The Rams are the only team in the league to rank inside the top five in both passing and rushing offense DVOA, and they also rank fourth in yards per play, first in yards per drive (by a completely ridiculous 6.6 yards), and second in both points per drive and the percentage of drives that end in a touchdown or field goal. They’ve been buoyed by both a league-best third-down conversion rate (54.1 percent) and the fact that they almost never go three-and-out. Just 5.3 percent of LA’s drives have ended after three plays, the best mark in the league. 

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Between McVay’s creative play design, the strong play of the offensive line (Jared Goff has been sacked on only 3.8 percent of his drop-backs and the line has zero blown blocks so far this season, per data from Sports Info Solutions), and the sheer amount of skill-position talent on hand, this is perhaps not that surprising. But a look at the data makes it fairly clear that it’s possible the offense could be even better. 

Star running back Todd Gurley, for example, is averaging just 4.1 yards per carry so far this season. This is despite the fact that he’s seen eight or more defenders in the box on only 16.1 percent of his carries, one of the lowest rates in the NFL. Much of his relative lack of success, yardage-wise, stems from his runs up the middle. Per Sports Info Solutions, Gurley has carried 27 times for just 88 yards on interior runs, and 47 of those 88 yards have come after contact. If the middle of the Rams’ line starts getting a better push, Gurley could start gashing some defenses up the middle; and if he does that, things will become even more open for Goff and his receiving corps of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp, each of whom is already off to a fantastic start. 

Goff made arguably the biggest Year 1 to Year 2 jump of all time last season, his first under McVay. The step forward he’s taken so far this season is not quite as large, but it is significant. Goff has completed over 70 percent of his passes and is averaging 9.3 yards per pass attempt. He ranks sixth in the NFL in passer rating, fifth in QBR, and fourth in DVOA. He has been fantastic throwing deep, completing 14 of 22 tries on throws 15 or more yards in the air, racking up 351 yards on those plays. With the Rams moving Cooks, Woods, and Kupp all over the field, Goff just keeps finding whoever is open. Cooks has 19 grabs for 336 yards. Woods has 19 catches of his own, for 222 yards and two scores. And Kupp has 15 catches for 186 yards and two scores as well. Only two other teams in the league (Lions, Steelers) have at least three players with 15 catches or more, and one of those three on each team is a running back.  

Seeing this machine go up against one of the NFL’s best defenses — last week’s debacle against the Bills notwithstanding — should be wildly interesting. Most of Minnesota’s pass defenders have played at an above-average level or better this season, even including the game against the Bills. Xavier Rhodes is doing his usual strong work. Harrison Smith is still arguably the best individual coverage safety in football. Rookie Mike Hughes has been fantastic, allowing just four completions on 12 throws on his direction. Trae Waynes has kept plays in front of him and done a strong job of tackling immediately upon the catch, yielding only 77 yards in coverage through three games. 

The areas where the Rams will likely want to target on Thursday night are Mackensie Alexander (6 of 7, 88 yards) and linebacker Eric Kendricks (9 of 12, 161 yards and a touchdown). That likely means throwing over the middle against a group of dangerous athletes, but if there is any coach who can get his best pass-catchers isolated in space against specific defenders, it is probably McVay. With the Vikings presumably working without Everson Griffen yet again, Goff should be at least somewhat well-protected, giving him time to pick out the right matchup and make an accurate throw. 

And while the Vikings have been stingy against the run when confronted with the Rams’ favorite personnel grouping (the Vikes have allowed only 3.83 yards per carry on runs out of 11 personnel — or one running back, one tight end, and three receivers, which the Rams have run 98 percent of the time this year), they’ve also given up a first down on 31.4 percent of those running plays, which ranks 28th in the league. That type of rate would allow Gurley to keep Goff and company on schedule, and the Rams to march their way downfield just like they have during the first three games of the year. 

When the Vikings have the ball

The Vikings’ offense has not been as explosive or efficient as the Rams’ so far this season, but it has a similarly strong collection of talent and the potential to reach similar heights if it ever achieves peak efficiency.

Kirk Cousins has long been over his early-career turnover issues and has become one of the most accurate passers in the league as well. The running back tandem of Dalvin Cook (working his way back from another injury) and Latavius Murray is strong, with Cook in particular a terrific athlete able to contribute in all three phases of the game (running, pass-blocking, pass-catching). Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver duo. Kyle Rudolph, when healthy, has been one of the league’s most consistent tight ends. The offensive line, while not elite, is better than in years past and has kept Cousins relatively well-protected thus far. 

But the results for Minnesota have not yet been nearly as good as they have for the Rams. The Vikings rank just 14th in yards and 22nd in points through three weeks, as well as 22nd in DVOA. (They’re 19th in pass offense DVOA and 31st in rush offense DVOA.) They’re 17th in yards per play and 28th in points per drive. The team has turned just eight of its 37 drives into scores. That’s a 21.6 percent rate that is worse than every team in the league except for the decrepit Cardinals

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Their run game has been dreadful, with Cook and Murray combining for just 3.5 yards per carry. Cousins has already thrown two picks and is at just 6.9 yards per attempt — the second-worst mark of his career. Diggs has caught only 55 percent of passes thrown in his direction. No. 3 wideout Laquon Treadwell has been almost a complete non-factor. Even Thielen, while he already has 32 catches in three games, is averaging a career-worst 10.6 yards per reception — a figure that is well short of the 14.0 per reception he averaged during each of the past two seasons. Kicker Daniel Carlson has converted just one of his four field goal tries. 

While it might seem wildly unlikely that they’ll be able to get on track against what has been one of the NFL’s best defenses (the Rams are sixth in yards allowed, first in points allowed, and eighth in defensive DVOA through three weeks), the Vikings are lucky to be catching the Rams at an opportune time. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib — who have been absolutely out of their minds incredible so far — are both likely to miss the game, Peters with a calf injury and Talib with an ankle ailment that necessitated surgery. (Peters is listed as questionable, for whatever it’s worth.) Hybrid defender Mark Barron is also still working his own way back from an ankle injury and also seems unlikely to play. 

There is still, of course, plenty of talent on the Los Angeles defense, what with Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers lurking up front, and Lamarcus Joyner, John Johnson III, and Nickell Robey-Coleman patrolling the back end. But the potential/probable absence of the team’s top two corners unquestionable opens up opportunities on the perimeter, especially for someone like Diggs to get going. Sam Shields is a fully capable corner who has been relegated to spot snaps so far and should do an admirable job filling in, but he’s not nearly as much of a playmaker as Peters and he’s not nearly as physical and strong at the line or the catch point as Talib. If the Vikings can get him or Troy Hill isolated in coverage, they should take a shot. They’ll need to dent the scoreboards in order to keep up with Gurley, Goff, and company anyway, so they might as well swing for the fences. 

Prediction: Rams 24, Vikings 17

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