Remains Found on Queens Beach Identified as Avonte Oquendo's, NYPD Says
QUEENS — The decomposed remains that were found on a College Point beach were identified Tuesday as those of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic teen who went missing in October, the NYPD said.
The bones were found Thursday night by a student shooting photographs at the beach, who notified police. Other remains, including the skull, were found over the weekend, officials said.
The remains were linked to the missing boy through DNA testing, according to a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, who said the cause and manner of death are pending further studies.
Avonte, who was autistic and nonverbal, was last seen running out of his special needs high school in Long Island City on Oct. 4.
The family's lawyer, David Perecman, said Avonte's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, tried to remain stoic while the search was still going on for her son, but that she was overcome with emotion after detectives told her the body had been identified Tuesday.
"She finally just broke down," Perecman said.
Avonte's disappearance sparked a citywide manhunt during which investigators combed the transit system and city waterways, and even broadcast a recording of his mother's voice.
"Rest in Peace little Brother. This World never deserved you," his brother, Danny Oquendo, posted on Tumblr Tuesday afternoon. "I will long for the day I can join you in paradise."
The brother asked for "space and time," to allow the family to grieve, and thanked supporters.
"The tenacity the World, especially NYC, has shown in regards to finding Avonte and spreading awareness has been unmatched in comparison to any other Missing Child investigation," he wrote. "For that we are forever grateful to you."
The City's Special Commissioner for Investigations is looking into what happened at Avonte's school on the day he disappeared, city officials have said. The teen was captured on surveillance video exiting The Riverview School at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City, walking out through a side door.
In November, former Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott vowed to ramp up school safety measures in the wake of the boy's disappearance.
Perecman filed a $25 million notice of claim with the city comptroller's office in October. He said Monday that the family was waiting on the medical examiner's determination about the discovered remains to decide about filing a lawsuit.
The lawyer said it was too early to go into specifics about the suit, but placed blame of Avonte's death on the school.
"There are so many things that went wrong it befuddles the mind," Perecman said.