NEW YORK (AP) — Police were investigating whether human remains found along the East River could be those of an autistic teen who walked out of his school more than three months ago and vanished, law enforcement officials said Friday.
A 14-year-old girl shooting photos at a park discovered a left arm on Thursday, said an official with direct knowledge of the case. A second official said the girl posted a photo of an arm on Twitter and later told her mother about the discovery, who called police. Neither official was authorized divulge investigative details and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The arm was discovered on the shore. Police also found the lower part of a torso and legs on the rocks at low tide, along with black Air Jordan sneakers, white socks and tattered denim jeans that resembled what 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo was wearing when he disappeared, the officials said. The rest of the remains have not been recovered.
At daybreak Friday, police in waders searched the water while a dog sniffed the marshy terrain along the shore. Police divers also went into the water.
Avonte has been missing since Oct. 4, when he walked out of his school toward a park overlooking the East River. His disappearance sparked a search that included hundreds of officers, marine units and volunteers.
Missing person posters were plastered on lampposts and placed on car windshields throughout the city. The teen, who did not speak, was fascinated with the subway system and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials made announcements on trains for weeks asking for help finding him. Police checked every subway station and tunnel.
Authorities also hunted down hundreds of tips in New York City and its suburbs. Despite a few false alarms, including an image of a person snapped on a train that resembled the boy, he has not been located.
Detectives were not sure whether the remains found Thursday belonged to the missing teen. The body parts were found at least 11 miles from where he was last seen, considerably upriver and east of the park near Avonte's school.