Evidence gathered along the East River — body parts, clothing and a pair of sneakers — almost certainly brought to a tragic end the desperate three-month search for autistic teen Avonte Oquendo.
All that remained to confirm the parents’ worst fears was a comparison of DNA taken from the remains with the sample that Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, rushed to investigators.
“Unfortunately, there is good reason to think it’s him,” the family’s lawyer, David Perecman, warned. “It’s more than just speculation.”
Still, Avonte’s parents were clinging to dwindling hope that their 14-year-old son was still alive.
“They’re distraught, but they’re hopeful it’s not him,” Perecman said. “They remain optimistic that he’s still out there.”
Avonte walked past a security guard and out of the Riverview School in Long Island City, Queens, on Oct. 4. Avonte was obsessed with the subway system and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials made announcements on trains for weeks asking for help finding him. The MTA sent subway workers into the tunnels in Brooklyn and Queens to check out tips that the teen had been spotted wandering the tracks.
The NYPD went so far as to enlist the help of psychics in the search for the boy, sources told the Daily News. Police, relatives and volunteers posted flyers and combed waterways. The search generated dozens of false tips and a reward grew to nearly $90,000.
The case gripped the city with curiosity, hope and, finally, the beginnings of despair when a photographer spotted remains along the rocky shoreline in College Point on Thursday afternoon.
Just after 7 p.m. Thursday, police found a left arm that police sources said appeared to have separated via decomposition — rather than a violent act. Police divers returned to the cold and murky water on Friday, feeling around the underwater rocks while wearing heavy gloves. Other cops searched the shoreline using cadaver dogs. They shut down the search by nightfall and were expected to resume at 7 a.m. Saturday.
In all, they found legs in boys’ size 16 Old Navy jeans, a size 51/2 Air Jordan sneaker and a striped shirt — all consistent with the outfit Avonte was wearing when he went missing.
h/t NY Daily News0