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Prayer Vigil Held In Hopes That Avonte Oquendo Will Be Found

Family, Advocates Also Urge Public To Keep Searching
Avonte Oquendo Flier

A woman holds a flier urging people to search for missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo. (Credit: Gary Baumgarten/1010 WINS)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A prayer vigil was held Sunday asking for the safe return of Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old autistic boy who has been missing for more than three weeks.

As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, it will be four weeks this coming Friday since Avonte disappeared. His photo has been plastered all over the city, but no one has apparently seen him.

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.

At the prayer vigil Sunday, Avonte’s family and others asked for his return, and for the public to keep looking for him.

“I understand – statistics may say that after a certain length of time that it may not look that good,” said the Rev. Phil Craig, the Queens chapter president of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “But I don’t know about you, but I know God is able.”

Craig also thanked the NYPD for reversing itself, and not scaling back its search for Avonte. Police said the search continued in full force Sunday.

“There’s a significant amount, and I would say there’s a sufficient and adequate number of resources dedicated to this,” said Chief of Department Philip Banks III.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Banks said in his time on the force, he has never seen a search as intense as this.

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.

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.

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