NYPD: Trail cold, but search goes on for missing autistic boy

Eric Wright wears a placard with a picture

Eric Wright wears a placard with a picture of a missing autistic 14-year-old named Avonte Oquendo in the Queens borough of New York City. (Oct. 21, 2013) (Credit: Getty )

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Most of the leads police have received about the missing 14-year-old autistic boy from Queens have turned out to be dead ends, but investigators are keeping up an intensive search, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday.

Since Avonte Oquendo walked out of the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on Oct. 4 and disappeared, police have received about 450 tips -- about 90 percent of which were quickly ruled out, Kelly said.

Detectives have also collected 196 surveillance videos, each of which are being examined to help track Avonte's movements, the commissioner said.

Asked if he thought Avonte, who doesn't communicate verbally, was alive, Kelly responded: "We certainly hope so."

"At this juncture, we have nothing we would say is a concrete sighting of the young man, other than the video when he leaves the school," Kelly said.

In that video, Avonte walks out of a side door at the school, crosses the street and heads toward a park adjacent to a path that skirts the East River. It was by the river that surveillance cameras lost sight of the teen, Kelly said.

"There is another video that shows someone coming out of the park, but it is not clear enough to say it is the young man," he added.

Law enforcement agencies in other states have been notified about Avonte, and Kelly said some are paying close attention to train facilities, given the youngster's apparent fascination with railroads.

The NYPD has 80 officers involved in the search for the 5-foot-3, 125-pound teen. Volunteers have also circulated Avonte's photograph across the city and posted them on lampposts.

The boy's father, Daniel Oquendo Sr., pleaded with the public Thursday night to continue to keep their eyes open for his son. The reward for Avonte's safe return is up to nearly $90,000.

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