By Bill Parry
Avonte Oquendo’s mother is refusing to give up the search for the 14-year-old autistic boy who disappeared from his Long Island City school Oct. 4.
Vanessa Fontaine has taken a leave of absence from her job at an insurance firm and is now spending her life’s savings to open a permanent headquarters in a former medical office in Astoria at 21-81 24th St. The owner is giving them the use of the space on a month-to-month lease at a reduced rate.
“We were using an RV for our last headquarters. but it gets too cold down by the water,” Fontaine said, “We had to move indoors for the winter.”
The group of family and friends continues to search for the severely autistic child, who ran out of the Riverview school in LIC and vanished.
“I still have a lot of people who refuse to give this up and there’s more arriving everyday,” Fontaine said.
Police officials say they have tracked more than 900 tips in just over two months, but there is still no sign of Avonte. Volunteers continue to plaster posters around the city, while others man the phone banks in the new headquarters.
“We’re here until we find him,” Fontaine said. “I don’t care how long it takes and how much money it costs.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.