(Updated Jan. 21) On Oct. 4, 2013, 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo left his New York City school, was seen walking toward a park on the banks of the East River, and was never seen again. Now the NYPD is looking into the possibility that clothes and body parts found along the river’s shoreline on Jan. 17 could be those belonging to the missing autistic teen.
MSN reported on the grisly discovery:
A person shooting photos discovered what looked like an arm on Thursday.
Police also found a torso and legs in the water, along with a dark-colored shoe and clothes resembling what the boy was last seen wearing.
Since Avonte went missing on Oct. 4, hundreds of volunteers, police officers and marine units have been searching the areas around his school, subway stations and tunnels, and the East River looking for the teen.
The remains discovered on Thursday were found “at least 11 miles driving distance from his school.” Officials are not going on record just yet that those remains are those of young Avonte Oquendo.
The body parts are now at the Queens County Morgue, where the medical examiner will attempt to come up with a cause of death and identification. Those tests could take several days.
Detectives and water units were at the site early Friday searching for any additional evidence.
A reward of $60,000 leading to information regarding Avonte's safe return is in effect, with much of that reward coming from an “anonymous donation to the advocacy group Autism Speaks.”
Avonte's family has filed a notice of claim saying they planned to sue the city, arguing that the officials at Avonte's school allowed him to walk out of the building and waited too long to notify police that he was missing.
Jan 21 update: Sadly, those body parts that washed up from the East River were confirmed by the City Medical Examiner to be those belonging to young Avonte Oquendo.
According to PIX11, the statement was released today at a press conference held by the Oquendo family attorney, David Perceman, who stated:
“Unfortunately the news I bring is not good news,” Perecman said at a press conference Tuesday. “After all that searching, the message I bring you from Vanessa [Avonte's mother] is that police visited her earlier today and DNA has verified that indeed that the remains that they found are that of Avonte Oquendo.”
The cause of death is still unknown, and will hopefully be determined pending further tests from the medical examiner’s office.
Rest in peace Avonte Oquendo.
For more on Avonte Oquendo, see the video accompanying this article.
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