Cops Tell Missing Autistic Boy Avonte Oquendo's Parents to Give Up Hope

Heartbreaking 22

missing autistic boy avonte oquendoThe blows just keep on coming for the family of missing autistic teenager Avonte Oquendo. Earlier this week police warned they would be scaling down the search for the 14-year-old because of a lack of credible leads. Now the New York Police Commissioner has come out with the worst news yet: he believes Avonte is dead.

Mind you, Ray Kelly doesn't actually know that Avonte is dead. In fact, the only thing anyone knows for sure is that on October 4, the 14-year-old left his high school in Queens, where safety measures seemed to have failed. Surveillance footage shows him running down the halls of Public School 277. And then. Nothing.

So how can the police say a boy is dead?

How can they do that to his grieving family? Tell them to just give up hope?

It's not that I don't feel for Kelly here; I do. He's got a tough job trying to explain to this family and to the rest of the world why he's not going to keep expending man hours on a search for this child. You can tell his words to the media were very carefully crafted:

Unfortunately, we are not hopeful that we’re going to find this young man alive, but we are continuing our search.

But even weighing my sympathy for Kelly's precarious position, I still can't help but feel this is unfair to Avonte's mom and dad.

The cops themselves have said they have had no credible leads. So how can they say he's gone?

It's tricky, isn't it? Avonte is non-verbal, something that has complicated his case from the start. Because of his particular autism diagnosis, the teenager can't be expected to help himself in ways that other kids might be able to. He can't announce himself to someone as that missing kid on the news.

And now that three weeks have officially passed -- today marks the third Friday since Avonte disappeared -- with no credible tips or leads, one could assume that something horrible happened to the boy.

One could, but do they have to?

There's an old saying, "no news is good news." It's something families cling to when their loved one is missing. If cops haven't found a dead body, if they don't have a murderer in custody, then they can keep up the faith that their loved one might still be found ... and more importantly be found alive.

The question is: who are the police to tell a grieving family that it's over, that they should give up that hope?

As another famous New York icon, Yogi Berra, once said, it ain't over till it's over.

What would you need to hear from cops to actually give up hope?


Image via National Center for Missing and Exploited Children



autism, missing person


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

ZenMama3 ZenMama3

This story breaks my heart like no other. I have a son with Autism--his school has had to put saftey measures in place to keep him safe because he wanders with no idea about saftey. He would run right in the road in front of a car if you are not holding his hand. I'm praying for this boys parents--the police shouldn't give up--they need to keep looking for him. I can't believe the school let his happen. My heart breaks for this family.

nonmember avatar Christina

As a parent you probably never give up hope until a body is found or it is otherwise confirmed that your child is dead. As a police officer you are able to think more logically and honestly the odds are not n that poor boys favor. Yeah Elizabeth Smart, the ohio girls etc will me mentioned but those cases are few and far between. So sad.

Movie... Moviebuff

lets not forget those we're kids without disability so that why.

Daisy... DaisyJupes

I would need to hear just what he told them. My dad's a cop who works search and rescue, my mom's a detective who tracks down abducted children. Both of them know very well that once you pass that two to three day mark, the person is probably dead. Add in a disability like this kid has and it's basically a guarantee. Since he disappeared on his own and there are no signs of abduction, this isn't a criminal case so it is quite honestly not worth searching for a dead boy who they believe to have left of his own free will. Does it suck? Yes, but it's the truth. 

The commissioner is trying to prepare the parents for the worst that could happen, because his body will likely be found in the next month. He's also letting the public know that they're not "giving up" (as media likes to sensationalize things that aren't sensational.... see Melissa McCarthy's Elle cover), but that the kid is likely dead and this is pretty standard for police work. 

Movie... Moviebuff

@Daiayjupes FINALY a levelheaded person.

craft... craftycatVT

It's just obvious that schools need to be more safety conscious about kids with Autism. I used to substitute and I can't tell you how many times I was put in charge of special needs kids, including a group of autistic boys and I had NO TRAINING whatsoever. If two of them had decided to take off in different directions, I would have been really out of luck. Other substitutes had the same complaints-- we told the people in charge, but nothing was ever done about it.

adopt... adoption2013

If the child isn't dead I shudder to think of what he is going through.  It's bad business all the way around.  I'm terrified that my daughter will go missing from school because of her asd.

Movie... Moviebuff

To many parents of "special" needs kid expect everybody to drop everything for their kids. In other missing kids stories that is how long the authority look for and then other groups step in, people want them to go longer because of his disability it doesn't work that way. Take some responsibility and realize the extra effort to keep your kids safe like a tracking device.

nonmember avatar Mondernmom

You know what a waste of air is? It's allowing these kinds of kids be out and about we should go back to putting them in a home.

nonmember avatar Casa

Keep em coming moron! Why did you change your name for chicken! You need to be in a home and have the key thrown away! Karma! Just you wait you vile imbicile!

1-10 of 22 comments 123 Last