A teenager’s remains have been found and they may belong to the 14-year-old autistic male who went missing back in October. A pair of jeans and a shoe has been found with human remains in the frigid East River and they are similar to those which were worn by Avonte Oquendo whose disappearance back in the fall of 2013 bewildered the city and ignited a gigantic, months-long search, stated the family’s attorney on Friday.
The discovered remains were in very bad shape, but the pants and shoe were the exact same style and size as the ones that Avonte was wearing when he ran away from his school on Oct. 4. DNA is being collected also from the bones discovered. The partly skeletonized parts found were a left arm, two detached legs still inside the jeans, some human rib bones and a part of pelvic bone. These were all discovered by the New York police after the arm was first found, by accident, by a 19-year-old photography student named Natasha Shapiro. She just happened to live in the nearby area, stated law enforcement officials.
The teenage female is taking college classes at a technology institute and had been out taking photographs of the East River beach around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evening. She was reported grilled by cops about her gruesome find on the beach. She later stated that she just wanted to be left alone and refused to answer any more questions over her troubling find.
Now that the remains have been taken in, police officials wait to see what the DNA test results show. They will make no further announcements about the remains until the results are back with conclusive evidence one way or the other.
What made this case especially disturbing was the teen’s severe case of autism and because he was allowed to take off from his school past the security guards. This escape was caught on surveillance cameras and was replayed over and over on local New York news channels as the search continued for the teen.
Avonte cannot speak, which accentuated his vulnerability. His mother and numerous other members of his family members organized a city-wide search campaign which got the nation’s attention. Up to this day, there are fliers all across the five New York boroughs that show Avonte’s face and offer reward money. They are stuck to lamp posts and hung in the subways.
Avonte was known to be scared of water, so his family would have been very shocked to hear he had went over any fences near the East River, even though it is just across the street from his school. At first, the hunt for him concentrated mainly on the subway area because the teenager was known to be relaxed around trains.
After hearing about the clothes and shoe, the family lawyer stated the similarities were very troubling but added that the teenager’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, continued to remain stoic.
Ms. Fontaine has not ever lost hope, stated the attorney. He said that he had spoken with her and that she said that it was not Avonte until it was Avonte.
There are many people who end up vanishing New York City every single year. In fact, in the past week alone, the police department has told the media of over a dozen missing person reports that have come in. Many of those individuals are eventually found, and so very few of the cases cause any interest in a city that has a population of over 8 million people. However this case was different, it got the attention of not only New York, but the entire nation, and now it may tragically be coming to an end if the remains found belong to Avonte Oquendo.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Washington Post