With Cause of Death Inconclusive, Avonte's Family Looks to NYPD's Files
MIDTOWN — The family of Avonte Oquendo hopes that police investigative files will provide the answers that the Medical Examiner could not.
The NYPD has agreed to release its closed investigative file on the 14-year-old autistic teen's disappearance and death after he fled from a Long Island City school in October, a lawyer for the family said Thursday.
The news comes a day after the Medical Examiner announced that all tests had been exhausted for determining the boy's cause of death.
Avonte was last seen running out of Riverview School in October 2013.
His disappearance captured the attention of the city, prompting an army of family, volunteers, and schoolmates to search around the clock and plaster the city with missing person flyers.
When his partially decomposed remains were found washed up on a College Point beach in January, the family thought they might get some answers, their lawyer David Perecman said.
“The [family's] reactions were honestly mixed," the lawyer said. "The results showed no signs of trauma. But on the other hand, there are so many questions left unanswered. It’s not the closure they had hoped for."
They don't know when and where he went into the East River, or if the teen was alive when he went in, the lawyer added.
Perecman and Avonte's family hope to find some of the unanswered questions in the pages of the NYPD's investigation.
For months, NYPD has declined to hand over the files because its investigation would not be complete without the Medical Examiner's report, Perecman said.
Avonte's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, filed a lawsuit against the NYPD demanding video and internal records relating to her son's disappearance in January.
Now that the Medical Examiner's report has been completed, Perecmen adjourned that court action and expects the NYPD to turn over the files shortly.