The search is expanding for missing 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, an autistic boy who has been missing from Queens, New York for approximately two weeks now. You can read my first post about Avonte HERE. Avonte is severely autistic and is unable to speak.
Today, Tim Miller from Texas EquuSearch will be in New York City talking to law enforcement about Avonte’s case. Tim Miller is an absolute hero to me, and if you don’t know about him and his organization, Texas EquuSearch, you can read more about them at their website, www.texasequusearch.org. Tim Miller, whose daughter was abducted and murdered in 1984, started the search and rescue organization and they’ve been involved in more than 1,350 searches, including the search for Caylee Anthony.
Avonte has been missing for two weeks now and his family has been relentless with their searching. The good thing is that Avonte has quite a history of wandering off and then coming home safely, according to ABC News.
In August of this year, Avonte wandered away from home, and was found at the 67th Avenue Station in Forest Hills.
Five years ago, Avonte took the subway from Jamaica to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike Station, before he was found by Transit Police.
Seven years ago, he was found at the Fresh Pond Road Station in Ridgewood after wandering from home.
He seems like a resourceful little guy, doesn’t he? Police are expanding their search and have entered Avonte into their “Operation Sentry Network,” which consists of 140 law enforcement agencies in the northeast part of the country.
The reward for Avonte’s safe return is up to $70,000. He was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. In the picture at the top of this post, you can see Avonte in the same gray striped shirt he was last seen in. Authorities say that if you do see him, call them first and then follow him, because he may run if you approach him too quickly.
If you’re on any social media sites, please share Avonte’s story as often as possible. It’s very crucial to keep getting the word out about his disappearance so he can hopefully return home safely to his family.
Anyone with info is asked to call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
UPDATE: 10/19/13 8:52 AM
I came across a few details in a CNN article that I hadn’t seen before. About three hours after Avonte went missing on October 4, police used bloodhounds that traced his scent to a marshy area near his school, but then lost the trail near the water. One hour later, the bloodhounds picked up his scent again, this time at a nearby subway station.
The same article also has some great details about the search efforts, and it seems like they’re really thinking outside of the box. A source told CNN that the clothing company Old Navy is working with the NYPD and a federal agency, providing them with a shirt matching the one Avonte was wearing at the time of his disappearance. Officials can then put that shirt into their database to scan video cameras for recognition, similar to facial recognition.
NYPD patrol cars and search vehicles have also been playing a recording of Avonte’s mother, calling for him into the streets. The recording says, “Avonte, this is your mother. You are safe. Walk toward the lights.”
UPDATE: 10/23/13 10:05 AM
Tim Miller, the Founder of Texas EquuSearch, met with law enforcement regarding Avonte’s case and determined that his team of searchers can’t provide anything further in the search for Avonte. Tim said that the NYPD has things pretty well covered and they have nothing that they could add to the search. Instead of helping, they might become a liability.
Avonte has been missing for almost three weeks now.