DNA Confirms Body Parts Belong to Missing Boy With Autism- Avonte Oquendo Remains Found in Queens
First there was the disappearance: a 14-year-old boy with autism last seen walking out of his school by the Queens waterfront last fall. Then there were the months of searching, the posters of a fresh-faced teenager that a city came to know simply as Avonte.
With the discovery last week of a body in pieces on the shoreline of the East River, and clothes that appeared to match those last worn by the teenager, hopes dimmed that the boy, Avonte Oquendo, would turn up alive.
Those days of uncertainty ended Tuesday as the results of DNA testing confirmed what many had feared: Avonte would not be coming home.
The city medical examiner’s office said that remains found along the rocks in College Point, Queens, had been matched to DNA samples provided by several members of Avonte’s family on Friday, when the police began gathering pieces of a body and the telltale articles of clothing — a striped shirt, size 5 ½ Air Jordan sneakers — worn by Avonte.
A chance discovery, by a young woman who first told her mother before they phoned the police, began a grisly process of collecting pieces of a body. That evening, officers cordoned off an area of the riverbank along Powells Cove Boulevard, several miles northeast of Avonte’s school. It was not clear how his body had come to rest there, the police said.
Over the next few days, they gathered a collection of bones, each of which would be tagged separately, placed in a paper evidence bag and eventually tested to confirm its connection to Avonte. Some were as small as fragments, others as large as an arm or a leg. By Tuesday, the police said investigators had collected what was believed to be about 90 percent of the boy’s body.
Forensic experts said it was not common for bodies found in the water to be so severely dismembered. The police said that the investigation into his death would continue.