The search for Avonte Oquendo, the fourteen-year-old autistic teen who has been missing for eleven days, has now spread to include the New Jersey and Long Island areas, according to a local news station.
The autistic teen has been missing since 12:38 PM on October 4, 2013 when he walked out of Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, prompting an intense search which has included hundreds of police officers, marine units, helicopters, 200 city maintenance workers and numerous volunteers.
Over the weekend of October 12 and 13 the search shifted underground when transportation officials suspended overnight maintenance on the tracks of the city’s transit system while workers searched the underground network for the missing boy. It was the belief of his brother Danny Oquendo that this would be a good place to look since the boy was very interested in trains. Unfortunately, after checking all 468 trains stations, an abandoned station, every tunnel and every bathroom, the search was unsuccessful.
On Monday, police divers searched the Newtown Creek, which is near the school where the boy was last seen, again turning up no clues to the teens whereabouts.
According to a flier being circulated, the reward for his return is currently $70,000.
The Oquendo family filed a “notice of claim” on October 9, indicating their desire to sue the city of New York. The boy’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, says that her son has the mental capacity of a seven- or eight-year-old child and should not have been allowed to leave the school grounds unsupervised. He is also unable to communicate verbally, she says.
According to the NYPD, if anyone has any leads about where Avonte Oquendo might be, they should contact the department’s hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Written by: Nancy Schimelpfening