By Rich Bockmann
Police have chased down more than 200 tips they received about the disappearance of Avonte Oquendo, but as the massive search for the missing autistic Rego Park teenager proceeded through the third week, the authorities had no new information.
“What we’re doing now is searching,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was quoted as saying in Monday’s New York Post. “We’ve interviewed anyone who has an arrest as far as the abuse of a child under 16. We’re looking at the [sex offender] registry. We’re going over locations again and again …. we’re doing everything I think we reasonably can do.”
The city remained plastered with fliers asking tipsters to come forward with information nearly four weeks since Avonte, 14, ran out of The Riverview School in Long Island City, a public school for students with special needs, the afternoon of Oct. 4.
Avonte is autistic and cannot speak, and since his disappearance his family has kept vigil in a tent erected from the place he was last seen.
His brother, Daniel Oquendo Jr., posted a video to his Tumblr blog Monday saying he had to return to Florida and urged supporters to keep up the search.
“Sadly, today was my last day in New York. I had to come back to Orlando to go back to work, pay my bills, but I just wanted to thank everybody for all their help and please stay on the lookout for my little brother, Avonte,” he said. “Thank you and God bless you.”
The missing boy’s family said he was found near the subway after running off previously, so the initial search focused around transit tunnels near the school at 150 51st Ave., where surveillance video showed him leaving around 12:40 p.m. Oct. 4.
Since then the hunt has spread across the city and the tri-state area, with police deploying helicopters, boats and more than 100 officers, but the Post said Kelly hinted that the department may have to scale back its efforts.
“We haven’t cut back any resources, but it is something that we are going to have to look at during the week,” the police commissioner said. “There’s no new information.”
Avonte is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers.
Anyone with information about his disappearance is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging on to the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.