Missing person posters were put up across New York City after the teenager disappeared from his school in October. Credit: Bess Adler
After months of searching, the family of a missing autistic teen were heartbroken to learn that his body had been found last week.
Human remains discovered near a Queens shoreline Thursday were identified as those of missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo, the Medical Examiner's Office and police said Tuesday.
A DNA test matched the remains to Avonte, who was last seen running out of his Long Island City school near the East River on Oct. 4.
After police shared the results with Avonte's family, his mother, Vanessa Oquendo, was devastated, family attorney David Perecman said.
"She told me, 'It's Avonte. They came. It's Avonte,'" Perecman said. “Vanessa was crying when I spoke to her.”
The remains were found near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place in College Point, some 11 miles from where Avonte was last seen more than three months ago.
Skeletal remains, including an arm and legs, were among the rocks on the shore. They were found with clothes, along with size 5 1/2 Air Jordan sneakers, similar to those Avonte was wearing when he disappeared.
Over the weekend, police divers and cadaver dogs found more remains.
Investigators are still trying to determine how Avonte's body came to be along the shoreline upstream from his school. Cause and manner of death are still under investigation, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
In the weeks after his disappearance, authorities scoured the city and subway tunnels, plastering Avonte's face across the five boroughs.
Perecman said the family intends to file a wrongful death suit against the city because he was able to leave his school.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina extended her condolences to the family in a statement.
"I am determined that we learn every lesson we can from this terrible tragedy and do everything in our power to prevent incidents like this from ever occurring again," Farina said. "Let Avonte remind us how important it is that we continue to look out for one another."