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Remains identified as Avonte Oquendo

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — The family and loved ones of Avonte Oquendo are preparing for the young boy’s funeral after body parts that washed up in Queens last week were positively identified by the New York City medical examiner.

Sources told PIX11 the teen’s family is all together and “heartbroken.”

“Vanessa [Avonte’s mother] was crying when I spoke to her,” family attorney David Perecman said.  “Doris, his grandmother, was already rattled, deeply rattled this morning.”

Perceman said he broke down when he got the news.


“Unfortunately the news I bring is not good news,” Perecman said at a press conference Tuesday. “After all that searching,  the message I bring you from Vanessa [Avonte’s mother] is that police visited her earlier today and DNA has verified that indeed the remains that they found are that of Avonte Oquendo.”

The funeral, which will be closed to the media, is scheduled for Saturday morning in Manhattan, Perecman told PIX11.

Avonte Oquendo DNA test sparks outpouring of grief on Facebook, Twitter

The cause of death is unknown pending further testing. It is unclear how long it will take for test results to be returned.

A decomposed arm was discovered near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place in College Point last Thursday by a teenage girl, who took a photo and showed her mother.

RELATED: Avonte Oquendo’s family attorney says there may be more surveillance video calling into question school’s actions

Police divers later discovered a torso, legs, a skull and teeth. Shoes, jeans and shirt were also found among the remains.

The 14-year-old , who had autism, was last seen on surveillance video running out of his school in Long Island City on October 4.

Pereceman expressed anger at the city for allowing the teen, who was non-verbal, to simply run out an unlocked door.

“I for one am good and anger,” he told reporters. “When you look at the video tapes at what happened, the sheer chaos that went on in that school and to think they are taking children like this every single day, telling their parents that they’re safe, when indeed they’re not.”

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

Avonte Oquendo went missing last October, after running out of his school in Long Island City.

A massive search was launched for the teen, with fliers posted in every subway station system wide and dozens of volunteers canvassing the city for the teen.

Although the search yielded many false sightings, Avonte’s family and volunteers never lost hope that the  teen would be found alive.

RELATED: New evidence begs question: was Avonte Oquendo the victim of foul play?

Since the discovery of the remains, Avonte’s family has not spoken publicly.

A Manhattan funeral home has offered to pay all funeral expenses for the teen, although the family has not yet made any arrangements.
avonte map for web
“We’re disheartened. We wanted to believe he was still out there. It’s our position now to stand behind the family even more so while they grieve,” said community advocate Tony Herbert. “We want to know how his body got there. We want to be able to educate young people on the dangers of the water.”

“He became everybody’s child,” Perecman’s wife, Penny, said. “She was such a strong woman, she held out hope and now that hope is gone.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina released a statement, saying:

“Over the past several months, I have been among the countless New Yorkers who have been holding our breath in hope that Avonte Oquendo would be found unharmed. And I am among the many who are heartbroken to learn the news today.

Today our school community is in mourning. Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare, and I cannot imagine the grief that Avonte’s family must be going through. I extend my deepest condolences to them.

As Chancellor, 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. Let Avonte remind us how important it is that we continue to look out for one another.”

Perceman said the pending case against the city will be amended to a wrongful death lawsuit.


  • Melinda Lyons

    May God give this Fam and Friends love and care through there heartbreaking time. May God smooth the Mother and Father heart with understanding that there child is home with him safe and sound.

  • JEM

    This is truly heartbreaking news. I was wondering whatever happened to this young man and why there hadn't been more updates. My condolences and every prayer go out to Avonte's family.

  • Lynda

    Rip Avonte my prayers to the family! Pix 11 news the advertisement is insensitive and should be removed immediately!

  • Cece

    My condolence to the family, my our Father God give you strength.My heart goes out to Avonte parents, I pray that Avonte would be return back alife to his parents. I’m angry that the school safety agents and the school have fail Avonte who became a son to many around the world. I’m broken hearted.

  • LeslieGrubler

    This outcome has been a difficult one to fathom. I have been a speech-language pathologist and advocate for children with autism for 16 years. I have worked so hard to meet these children's needs. I have worked to hard to understand who each of them was.

    The majority of children with autism that I have had the extreme pleasure to work with have had no danger awareness. Days after Avonte's disappearance, I drove to his school to understand where it was located, to try to understand what had happened to him. The UN which is across the East River from Avonte's school shone like a shimmery beacon at mid-day. Shiny objects, water more often than not, function as magnets to these children.

    How can the media say that the child "accidentally" fell in the water? He would have had to know it is a dangerous medium — he likely did not. Avonte was likely drawn to the water or to the prominent, shimmery object across the water. He wanted to see it, maybe even touch it. He simply wanted it closer to him…not ever realizing that the outcome could be tragic.

    It is my hope that this tragedy teaches the NYC DOE District 75 to make the changes necessary so that this NEVER happens again, so that our families can say goodbye to their child each and every day knowing that their child is in the BEST of hands and SAFE, that their child will return to them later in the day….

    To this journalist — Grow in your understanding of autism. I am so tired of the news media not knowing what autism is or how children with autism get through this world. Please do your homework. At least, speak to an expert in the field.

    • Guest

      Leslie quick question since you've been around the school and its immediate area did you notice if there were any buildings or businesses with cameras on the front/facade? The reason I ask is because I still can't wrap my head around not a single building in a 3 block radius captured Avonte on any security camera.

      Maybe I've watched way too many movies but it would make sense that if Avonte was running through the streets as he ran out the school he had to have passed a single camera, the only thing we've seen is the 1 camera feed from the school that shows him running out up the street. As a NY'er I've seen cameras in front of residential and commerical buildings all the time.

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