The case of Avonte Oquendo, the missing New York City autistic teen
whose photo for months has been plastered throughout the metro area, may have been solved by the discovery of human remains in the East River. On Friday, His family awaited their identification.
A person shooting photos earlier in the week discovered what appeared to be a human arm, the Associated Press reported.
Police later found a torso and legs in the water, along with a dark-colored shoe and clothes resembling what the boy was last seen wearing, said an official who was not authorized to speak publicly and talked to the AP on condition of anonymity.
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Oquendo, 14, has been missing since Oct. 4, the day he walked out of his school toward a park overlooking the East River. His disappearance sparked a massive search that included hundreds of officers, marine units, and volunteers.
Missing person posters were plastered on lampposts and placed on car windshields throughout the city. The teen, who did not speak, was fascinated with the subway system and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials made announcements on trains for weeks asking for help finding him. Police checked every subway station and tunnel.
Authorities also ran down hundreds of tips in New York City and suburbs. There were false alarms, including an image of a person snapped on a train that resembled the boy, and he has not been located.
Authorities were not clear whether the remains found Thursday belong to the missing teen. They were discovered at least 11 miles driving distance from his school.
The family's lawyer, David Perecman, said he spoke to Avonte's mother, Vanessa, around 2 a.m. He said she was considering the discovery to be just another tip until she hears something more definitive.
The remains were removed to the Queens County Morgue and will be examined by the medical examiner's office to determine an identification and cause of death, and that may take several days, police said. Detectives and water units were at the site early Friday searching for any additional evidence.
A reward fund for information leading to Avonte's safe return was at least $60,000, including $50,000 from an anonymous donation to the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
A notice of claim has been filed by Avonte's family against the City of New York, which act as a prerequisite to a likely lawsuit. The 14-year-old's family is reportedly accusing the city of having allowed Avonte to walk out from the building and waited too long to inform authorities that he was missing.
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