Avonte Oquendo has been missing for several weeks now and the search has expanded to New Jersey and Long Island.
The NYPD has expanded their search for a Long Island City mute autistic boy. He was last seen skipping away from his Queens high school a few weeks ago. Officers have been searching in train tunnels, waterways, and interviewed sex offenders on the whereabouts of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo.
The search has moved from Queens and now extends to Long Island and New Jersey. Police have spent much of their search on New York’s subways and transit areas because of his apparent fascination with trains. Every subway line has been searched and announcements have been made in stations notifying commuters to be on the lookout for Oquendo.
"We get leads throughout the day, and whenever we get them, we try to take them seriously," said Danny Oquendo, Avonte’s father, in an interview with NBC News. "We call police detectives, then volunteers who go to that area. We can't even sleep. It's hard to sleep knowing your child is out there and he could be cold and hungry and he can't even communicate."
Oquendo’s family has set up a command post under a tent near his school where he originally went missing. The NYPD’s Chief of Detectives Phillip banks says they have high hopes of finding the teenager. More than 80 tips of his location have come in so far.
"We're still pretty optimistic and hopeful that we will find Avonte and deliver him back home to his family," Banks told NBC news.
Avonte Oquendo is 5 foot 3 and 125 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans, and black sneakers. Anyone with information about Oquendo's whereabouts is asked to call the Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.
Avonte Oquendo Photo Courtesy of NBC News, Flyer Image Courtesy of NYPD.