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Avonte Oquendo’s Mother: ‘He’s Still Alive; He’s Out There’

Family Issues Desperate Plea To Keep Looking For Missing Autistic Teen
Avonte Oquendo had been missing since Oct. 4, 2013. The medical examiner's office confirmed on Jan. 21, 2014 that remains found along the East River are a DNA match. (credit: Handout)

Avonte Oquendo had been missing since Oct. 4, 2013. The medical examiner’s office confirmed on Jan. 21, 2014 that remains found along the East River are a DNA match. (credit: Handout)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of Avonte Oquendo have issued a desperate plea to the public to keep looking for the autistic teen, more than three weeks after he vanished.

Avonte is 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds. The severely autistic and nonverbal 14-year-old boy was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact NYPD Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit the Crime Stoppers website or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577.

Avonte was last spotted on surveillance video leaving the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, Queens on Oct. 4.

Since then, all-out search efforts by the NYPD and hundreds of volunteers have not produced concrete clues.

“I just want them to continue to search. Don’t give up, because I’m never going to give up to look for my son, and I don’t want anybody else to give up looking for him,” said Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine. “He’s still alive. He’s out there.”

A $70,000 reward is being offered by the group Autism Speaks for information about his whereabouts. In all, the reward is up to about $85,000.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said a team of 80 detectives has been assigned to the case, assisted by agencies from other areas.

Meanwhile, volunteers at the search command post in Long Island City have said donations of blankets and hand warmers are welcome.

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