The remains of Avonte Oquendo, 14, may have been discovered along the East River in New York, authorities state. The autistic, non-verbal teenager went missing in October, and the entire state has been on the alert, hoping to bring him home to his family.
Police told reporters that a 14-year-old girl happened upon a human arm and legs, as well as a pair of sneakers, near the College Point Yacht Club early Thursday evening. She immediately called police, who recovered them and are now running tests to determine if they may be Oquendo's. Divers also searched the area for more possible remains but so far have not found anything.
Authorities notified the Oquendo family about the discovery, which could mean a very tragic end to a case that has haunted the city and state of New York since October. Avonte was last seen leaving his Long Island City school on October 4. Teachers at the school immediately notified his parents, who then contacted authorities. A massive manhunt began for the teen, who is non-verbal due to his autism.
Various groups throughout the state came together to try and find Avonte. The MTA began issuing descriptions of the boy during passengers' trips, hoping that someone would remember something or possibly spot Avonte. Posters featuring his image and information blanketed New York City, and a $95,000 reward was issued for information leading to his return.
On January 5, the family put together a Facebook page with the heading "Official Help Find Avonte" to keep people informed of the search and pass along pertinent information.
"It is our deepest desire for the FBI to get involved but there is a system in place that requires protocol, we cannot force the FBI to get involved and we continually ask and pray they do," the family posted.
Many have offered their prayers and support for the family and hope that the remains are not Avonte's, but that the teen may still be found.