Published January 17, 2014
Human remains were been found near a Queens shoreline Thursday night and police are reportedly looking into whether articles of clothing also found can link them to a 14-year-old autistic boy missing since October.
New York City police say a possible arm and legs were found on the rocks in the area of Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place. Police responded to the College Point area after receiving a 911 call around 7 p.m. Thursday.
A police source told the New York Post that investigators are looking into whether clothing found at the scene belonged to Avonte Oquendo, who was last seen on Oct. 4 leaving a school in Long Island City.
Missing person posters were plastered on lampposts and placed on car windshields throughout the city. The teen, who did not speak, was fascinated with the subway system and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials made announcements on trains for weeks asking for help finding him. Police checked every subway station and tunnel.
Authorities also hunted down hundreds of tips in New York City and suburbs. Despite a few false alarms, including an image of a person snapped on a train that resembled the boy, he has not been located.
But authorities are not clear whether the remains found Thursday belong to the missing teen. They were discovered at least 11 miles driving distance from his school.
The family's lawyer, David Perecman, said he spoke to Avonte's mother, Vanessa, around 2 a.m. He said she was considering the discovery to be just another tip until she hears something more definitive.
The remains were removed to the Queens County Morgue and will be examined by the medical examiner's office to determine an identification and cause of death, and that may take several days, police said. Detectives and water units were at the site early Friday searching for any additional evidence.
A reward fund for information leading to Avonte's safe return was at least $60,000, including $50,000 from an anonymous donation to the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
Avonte's family has filed a notice of claim saying they planned to sue the city, arguing that the officials at Avonte's school allowed him to walk out of the building and waited too long to notify police that he was missing.
A $95,000 reward was offered for information leading to the whereabouts of the teen, who is unable to speak, the Post reported.
The remains will be removed to the Queens County Morgue. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.