Reward increased to $50K for safe return of missing non-verbal teen with autism

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The reward for the safe return of missing 14-year-old Avonte Oqendo has increased to $50,000, Autism Speaks announced Friday.

On their website, the organization said they received the anonymous donation, specifically earmarked to help bring the teen home to his family. The reward for Avonte’s safe return was previously $10,000.

Avonte, who cannot communicate verbally, was last seen at about 12:45 p.m. a week ago Friday running from Center Boulevard School in Long Island City. According to the boy’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, he had only been at the school for four weeks and would not know how to get home. Fontaine said the school notified her an hour after her son went missing. “They [the school] failed me, they really did,” Fontaine told PIX11.

Police have been searching train stations and tunnels, as Avonte’s mother said he loves trains.

“We are re-canvassing the areas that have been searched,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday. Kelly said the NYPD has received 35 tips so far. The family has set up a command station in Long Island City, vowing to stay there until Avonte is found.

Fontaine said that if you spot Avonte, you should approach him carefully as he may run away again.

If you see Avonte or have any information on where he may be, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS or 911 immediately.

1 Comment

  • Sam Perlmutter

    I check the City of Poughkeepsie area plus the Metro North station parking area and no sign of the young man. I will keep my eyes open.

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