DNA tests are being done to determine if human remains found in Queens are the remains of missing teen Avonte Oquendo, whose disappearance last year sparked a massive citywide search. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Numerous body parts and clothing were pulled from the northern end of the East River, heartbreaking and horrifying news that the family of missing teen Avonte Oquendo just doesn't want to hear or accept. The teen's mother wants 100 percent confirmation.
"She has continued this fight, and she's been looking hard," said David Perecman, the Oquendo family attorney. "This morning, when I spoke to her, she just said, 'It's not Avonte until it's Avonte.'"
The 14-year-old, who has autism, went missing in October. Surveillance video showed him running out of his school wearing a striped shirt.
Law enforcement sources say that up to 90 percent of a detached body has been recovered in the waters off of the College Point section of Queens near the Whitestone Bridge. Clothing found includes a striped shirt, Old Navy jeans and Air Jordan sneakers, the same description of the outfit Avonte was wearing when he vanished in Long Island City not far from the river.
"It's decomposition of a body, and things happen to a body," Perecman said. "It's moved 11 miles in the water. If it went in the water there, it could of gone in the water here, it could of gone in the water anywhere along the way. There's so many different possibilities."
Sources say it looks like an accidental drowning at this point.
The medical examiner's office has the remains and collected DNA from Avonte's parents to see if there is a match. A cause of death must determine a cause of death as well.
The family, police and volunteers searched the city for the teen. Strangers eager to help reported numerous sightings that turned out not to be him.
"I know this family wants closure, but at the same time, I don't want them to have closure this way," said Tony Herbert of the National Action Network.
At the search headquarters in Astoria set up for Avonte, people streamed in and out throughout the day.
Police divers are expected to be out in the waters off of College Point throughout the weekend as the investigation continues.