Avonte Oquendo Still Missing, Reward Increased To $50,000

Avonte Oquendo disappeared more than a week ago in Long Island City. His family is concerned, as the 14-year-old is autistic. His is unable to verbally communicate or care for his personal needs.

The teen was last seen running out the door of his school. Although the boy has a habit of wandering, his parents expected school officials monitor his whereabouts.

An extensive search followed the disappearance. However, his location remains a mystery. Avonte’s family consulted several psychics to assist in their search. Unfortunately, the boy simply vanished without a clue.

As reported by ABC News, Avonte Oquendo’s family blames school officials for their response to the situation. They retained attorney David Perecman to file a lawsuit against the school district.

Perecman says a school security guard watched the teen run out the door. However, school officials did not call his parents until an hour later. Perecman explains that “in an hour, [the] boy could have gone who knows where.”

Avonte’s family had an opportunity to view the school’s surveillance video. The teen is clearly seen running past the security guard, who does not attempt to stop him.

The boy was last seen wearing black shoes, black jeans, and a grey striped shirt. Anyone who sees him is asked to contact authorities immediately. The family does not recommend chasing him, as he may become frightened and run away.

Anyone with information about the disappearance is encouraged to call NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. A $50,000 reward is offered for information leading to his return.

As reported by NBC News, autistic teens and children are at risk of wandering or running away. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that so far this year, 14 autistic children have died after wandering away.

Avonte Oquendo’s family is not ready to give up hope. Many autistic teens and children are found hiding in enclosed spaces. Unfortunately, they have no idea they are impeding search efforts, they are simply seeking comfort.

[Image via Wikimedia]