Local News

Body parts found in Queens may belong to Avonte Oquendo

COLLEGE POINT, Queens (PIX11) — Body parts that were discovered along the shore of College Point, Queens, Thursday night could belong to Avonte Oquendo, the missing boy with autism whose disappearance  in October prompted a city-wide search and considerable public concern.

Timeline shows school’s response to Avonte Oquendo’s disappearance was delayed

Avonte Oquendo

At 7:16 p.m. Thursday, near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place, an arm was discovered by a teenager named Natasha Shapiro, who took a picture of the body part and showed it to her mother back home, who then called police.

A law enforcement source told PIX11 that Shapiro also posted the photo on social media before calling authorities, something Shapiro denies.

With helicopters flying overhead, a swarm of NYPD dive teams, detectives and evidence technicians combed the site Thursday night, turning up two legs and a torso.

The feet had a pair of size 5 1/2 Nike Air Jordans. Those are the kind of shoes Oquendo was wearing when he disappeared from his school in Long Island City on Oct. 4. The park where the body parts washed up is 11 miles from Oquendo’s school.

RELATED: Police searching for missing Queens teen

The Oquendo’s family attorney, David Perecman, said the partial remains also contained underwear and size 16 jeans. The jeans, though degraded, were found to be the same size that Avonte wore.

“That’s a troubling thing to hear,” Perecman said at a news conference Friday morning.


The NYPD Harbor Unit is searching for additional body parts that could belong to Avonte Oquendo.

Perecman has been speaking with the family all night about the discovery and says his Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, is skeptical.

“I don’t think we can assume anything from the fact that the body is not in one piece,” Perecman said Friday morning, answering questions about why the corpse was found in parts.

Police said the body parts were taken to the Queens County Morgue and the medical examiner will determine the cause of death. The body has been in the water long enough that you can’t identify the skin color, Perecman said.

avonte map for web

Whether the limbs had been naturally severed, or if he went through trauma, is still unknown.

Police waders are searching the water with dogs sniffing the terrain along the shore as part of a concerted effort to turn up the rest of the body.

Oquendo’s mother, who has hoped that her son was being held by a kidnapper,  has been notified and will be taken to the medical examiner’s office later today to examine clothing found on the body parts, police told PIX11 News.

“This has been an unimaginably grim and horrific time for her and her family,” said Perecman.

RELATED: Authorities enlisting PSYCHICS to help find missing teen with autism: Report

Perecman said Avonte is afraid of water, and it would have been unlikely for him to climb the fence toward the water near his school.

The family will wait for DNA test results and police have the teen’s father’s DNA on file. Avonte’s mother is submitting her DNA today.

Police say it may take several days to determine an identification and cause of death.

Avonte’s family has filed a notice of claim saying they planned to sue the city. The family claims that officials at the school allowed him to walk out and waited too long to notify police that he was missing.

RELATED: Schools to beef up security in wake of Avonte Oquendo disappearance

“If this is Avonte, as his lawyer I know what happened in the end. If we never find him, we never know what happened to him,” Perecman said.

Avonte’s mom told Perecman she will not be convinced until she has proof her son is dead. “It’s not Avonte until it’s Avonte,” she said.

This is a developing story; check back for updates


36 Comments to “Body parts found in Queens may belong to Avonte Oquendo”

    danyloor said:
    January 17, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    Reblogged this on loorducation and commented:
    This is truly sad and heartbreaking. It hurts as a mom. It just hurts. And the waiting and everything. It is horrible. Prayers and love sent out to his mom, dad and family. I can not begin to imagine. By the way, the story is ongoing.. praying for peace and God’s love. It is very much needed. It akes me very angry. Of course, i hope t i snot Avonte, never. It is so sad because as of yet, we do not know but there are very strong links. This was someone’s child…so sad.

    Lulu said:
    January 17, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    My heart goes out to his family. In my heart, I still hope that the boy is okay. Please don't let those remains be his!

      kev said:
      January 18, 2014 at 3:37 AM

      so it's ok if it's someone elses

    SomerEmpress said:
    January 17, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    My Lord! I cannot imagine the rawness of emotions that Avonte’s family is experiencing right now. This is beyond disturbing. Someone has to pay for the mishandling and neglect of one of our own.

    yesenia said:
    January 17, 2014 at 5:25 PM

    MY heart goes out to Avonte family.I have a Son his age and he 'S mentally retorted and j

      <?> said:
      January 17, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      Mentally "retorted"? What's that mean?

    Samuel said:
    January 22, 2014 at 2:53 AM

    I’m extremely inspired along with your writing talents as well as with
    the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it
    your self? Anyway stay up the excellent high quality writing, it is uncommon to
    see a great weblog like this one today..

    Amanda said:
    February 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Almost a month and still no answer to what happened , My heart goes to his family and to families everywhere in similar situations. God bless us all!!! Amanda ,S brooklyn

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