QUEENS — The months-long search for missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, who vanished from his Long Island City school last year, has almost come to a close after police recovered most of the remains, including what is likely the boy's skull, authorities said.
Searchers recovered a head near Powell Cove on Sunday, and have found have found most of the body, police sources said. But 10 teeth are still missing, police sources said, in what could affect their ability to use dental records for identification.
Avonte's family has said they will awaiting results from DNA testing to see if the remains were a match.
The boy's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, provided a DNA sample to the medical examiner's office to help determine if the remains were her son's, David Perecman, the family’s lawyer said.
He also said that the family gave the authorities Avonte's toothbrush for DNA testing and that the medical examiner's office had a sample from the boy's father on file.
Perecman said the family "is having a very hard time."
"You have to have a lot of strength to convince yourself that this isn't Avonte," Perecman said Monday.
As of Monday morning, the results of DNA tests were still pending, police said.
The family also provided investigators with a record of Avonte's footprint, which might help identify him, Perecman added during a Monday afternoon press conference.
"The sneakers apparently were tied pretty tightly to his feet," Perecman said about the limbs that were found. "He had socks on, which means the skin condition of his feet are good enough to obtain a print from."
Some of what police believe are Avonte's remains were first discovered Thursday night by a girl taking pictures near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place in College Point, police said.
The girl found what appeared to be an arm and legs along with clothing that resembled what 14-year-old Avonte wore when he was last seen running out of the Riverview School in Long Island City on Oct. 4, sources said.
The remains washed ashore "quite a while ago" and became so badly decomposed that they could not be immediately identified, sources said.
In addition searchers found sneakers, socks, jeans and a shirt that seemed to match what Avonte was wearing when he disappeared three months ago, sources said.
Perecman, who filed a $25 million notice of claim with the city comptroller's office last year, said the family is waiting to decide about filing a lawsuit pending the report from the medical examiner's office about the identity of the remains.