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Everything You Need To Know About Missing Autistic Teen Avonte Oquendo

The 14-year-old from Queens has been missing since Oct. 4.

Posted on October 31, 2013, at 12:58 p.m. ET

1. Avonte Oquendo is a 14-year-old boy with severe autism from Long Island City, Queens. He does not speak. He has been missing since Oct. 4, when he was last seen running from Riverview School, where he is a student.

AP Photo/National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
AP Photo/National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Video footage shows that Avonte was confronted by a school security officer as he tried to exit the front door. He turned around, but then exited the building through a side door. Avonte's mother, Vanessa Fontaine, is preparing to sue the city for $25 million, claiming that the security officer acted negligently.

2. There has been a massive push to find Avonte, featuring hundreds of officers and volunteers. Flyers have been plastered everywhere, especially in New York City subways.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Groups as far away as Texas have offered to aid in the search. The huge buzz is thanks at least in part to efforts by autism awareness groups like Autism Speaks, which is offering a $70,000 reward for his safe return.

3. This is not the first time Avonte has gone missing. He is fascinated with trains, and has been found at subway stations several times after wandering away from home.

Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Subway stops, like this one at South Ferry, are peppered with flyers bearing the missing teen's face.

4. A picture of a person resembling Avonte surfaced yesterday, snapped by a 13-year-old boy who posted the picture to his Facebook page Tuesday. The boy said he asked the person in the picture if he was Avonte, but got no response.


Unfortunately, the boy in the picture is not Avonte, but it has reignited hope that he will soon be found.

5. As time wears on, the man power the NYPD has dedicated to the case may be reduced.

Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said last week that they "will have to make adjustments as far as the deployment of amount of resources we have...if we are unsuccessful."

6. Avonte is around 5'3" and weighs 95–125 lbs. He was last seen wearing a "grey striped shirt, black jeans, and black sneakers."

If you see Avonte or have information on his whereabouts, please call 911 or the NYPD Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.