Remains Confirmed as Missing Autistic NYC Teen

The medical examiner’s office has confirmed that remains found in the East River are indeed those of Avonte Oquendo. 

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Avonte Oquendo 

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The human remains found last week along the Queens, N.Y., shoreline were confirmed as being Avonte Oquendo, the medical examiner’s office reported on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.

The missing autistic teen, who was nonverbal, walked out of his school three months ago and was never heard from again. The remains discovered along the East River on Jan. 16—a left arm, the lower torso and legs—were identified via DNA given by his family. Pieces of his clothing were also recovered at the scene, and part of a skull retrieved a few days later.

However, more questions remain about the 14-year-old’s disappearance, and the cause of death is pending further examination, according to the medical examiner.

The news brings a sad and abrupt end to the case that pushed the city into movement as hundreds of officers, marine units and volunteers searched desperately for the teen, who walked out of his school toward a park overlooking the river on Oct. 4, the AP notes.

Vanessa Fontaine, Avonte’s mother, along with his other relatives, had been hoping against hope that the young boy would be found alive. Even when the remains were uncovered last week, they said that they would wait for conclusive DNA testing.

"She’s not going to be convinced it’s her son unless there’s enough to convince her," David Perecman, Fontaine’s lawyer, said last week, according to the AP. Perecman is expected to hold a news conference later on Tuesday.

Read more at the Washington Post.

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