Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DNA Tests Confirm Remains Found Near MacNeil Park Are Of Missing Autistic Teen Avonte Oquendo

Police divers investigate the banks near Powell Cove in Queens on Thursday near Hermon A. MacNeil Park where the severed remains of missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, 14 were found.  (Photo: Jason Decrow/AP)


It’s Avonte. 

DNA testing has confirmed the remains found on a Queens beach are those of missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, the medical examiner’s office said Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News.

The family’s lawyer, David Perecman, held a press conference about the DNA results, and Avonte’s heartbroken mom, Vanessa Oquendo, was noticeably not present.  

“The news I bring is not good news,” Perecman said.

 “The police visited her earlier today and DNA revealed that the remains they found were those of Avonte Oquendo.

“She told me, ‘It's Avonte. They came. It's Avonte,’” he said.

 “Venessa was crying when I spoke to her.” 

He said it was unclear when funeral services for the teen would be held.   

Searchers began finding body parts, including arms, legs, and a lower torso, on the beach by College Point on Thursday. They found a skull Monday, the family’s lawyer said. 

The cause and manner of death are pending further study, the medical examiner's office said.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, has been missing since Oct. 4
Missing Poster of 14-year-old missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo. A massive search and rescue operation was organized.

Avonte, 14, was last seen on Oct. 4 leaving the Riverview School in Long Island City along the East River waterfront. 

The family has been hoping that the remains were not his. 

They have notified the city that they intend to file suit because he was not prevented from leaving the school. Perecman said the filing would now be a wrongful death suit.  

 “I'm sure she’ll get good and angry (at the school),” he said. “I know I'm good and angry. I can't understand 13 students with three teachers and one gets away.” 

In the wake of Avonte’s disappearance, authorities frantically searched subway tunnels - Avonte was said to be fascinated by trains. They also made mass announcements in stations informing the public that the missing teen was wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black shoes. 

A tip line was set up and a $70,000 reward was offered for information about his whereabouts. Friends even set up a Facebook page to coordinate volunteer search efforts and share information. 

“This is depressing, very depressing,” said community advocate Tony Herbert, who helped search for Avonte. “Everybody was so hopeful that it wasn't him, but I guess we all kind of figured it would be. This is not good.” 

Herbert said Avonte's mother had been clinging to hope. 

“She stood by her word, ‘It isn’t Avonte until its Avonte,’” he said. “Hopefully this will get them some closure. A lot of energy went into making sure he was OK. I feel bad for them right now.”

Police continued to search the banks of the East River on Saturday.
Police continued to search the banks of the East River on Saturday. (Joe Marino/New York Daily News)

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - January 17,  2014

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