Tag Archives: missing

Missing 85-year-old Flushing man found in good health: cops


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of NYPD

Updated 5:32 p.m.

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Police have found the 85-year-old Flushing man who went missing Monday afternoon.

A Silver Alert was issued  for Michael Sakis , who only speaks Greek, on Aug. 18 after he was last seen inside his residence, wearing blue jeans, a blue polo shirt and brown shoes, according to police.

According to police, Sakis was found in good health.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Sunny to partly cloudy. High 72. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy skies. Low 53. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Let’s “CUT” Cancer Out

Style Glam Salon in Fresh Meadows is hosting its first annual Benefit, Let’s “CUT” Cancer Out! We are raising money for St. Jude’s Cancer Research Hospital for Children and donating hair to “Locks of Love”, and organization that provides hair for disadvantaged children. There will be a special appearance by Tracy DiMarco Epstein from “Jerseylicious.” Face painting will be available, raffles, complimentary champagne, refreshments will be served. Proceeds will go to St, Jude’s Hospital. All are welcomed. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Police ask for help in finding diabetic teen

The NYPD is asking for the public’s help in finding a Queens teenager with Type 1 diabetes who has been missing since Thursday. Read more: CBS New York

De Blasio touts housing initiative for NYC residents with HIV, AIDS

The fight against AIDS and HIV is now in its fourth decade, but many continue to work to ensure the cause doesn’t lose its urgency “because we know so many people still need our help,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Sunday, speaking to about 300 people gathered in Central Park for the GHMC AIDS Walk. Read more: am New York

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urges Congress to create insurance for paid maternity leave

Congress should pass legislation to create a paid maternity leave insurance program for new parents, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Sunday. Read more: New York Daily News

De Blasio expected to speak about improving web access

Mayor Bill de Blasio will have a tough act to follow when he talks tech on Monday. Read more: New York Post

“Selfie” among 149 words, phrases added to Merriam-Webster dictionary as food, digital life reign supreme

Prosecutor Steve Parks of Delta County, Michigan, says he’s pushed for more than a decade to have Merriam-Webster recognize the word Yooper, a longtime resident of the Lake Superior region. Read more: CBS News

 

 

 

Queens man who went missing from Manhattan hospital found safe


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYPD

A Richmond Hill man who wandered off from a Manhattan hospital earlier this week has been found safe, police said.

Israel Jardinez, 24, was left seen at Mount Sinai Hospital, on East 102 Street, just before 6 p.m. Monday, officials said.

According to WABC, Jardinez has the mental capacity of a child and went missing while at the hospital for a doctor’s appointment.

Police said he was found Saturday in good condition and has been reunited with his family.

 

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Cops looking for Queens man who went missing from Manhattan hospital


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a Queens man who went missing from a Manhattan hospital Monday.

Israel Jardinez, a 24-year-old Richmond Hill resident, was last seen at Mount Sinai Hospital, on East 102 Street, about 5:45 p.m. on April 7, the NYPD said.

He is developmentally disabled and has the mental capacity of a child, WABC and CBS New York reported. According to WABC, Jardinez wandered off from the hospital while at a doctor’s appointment.

Jardinez is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and 220 pounds, and has a partially closed left eye.  He was last seen wearing a black jacket with a “Mi-Raza” logo, tan pants, a black and white hoody and sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Parents ‘grateful’ after missing autistic Rego Park 12-year-old found safe


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated 4:50 p.m.

An autistic 12-year-old boy who sprinted out of his Rego Park home Thursday was found safe in Brooklyn after a terrifying four hour search, police and family said.

Brandon Betancourt jetted out of his apartment complex on 66th Road near 67th Avenue about 7 a.m., police said.

“He just ran out,” said his father, Joe Betancourt. “He’s very fast. It’s hard to catch him. I’m just grateful he’s home.”

Police brought him to safety about 11 a.m., after a guidance counselor spotted him on the J train platform at the Broadway Junction subway station in Cypress Hills, about an hour journey from his home.

Brandon, who is incredibly smart, functions at a high level and knows his way around the city’s subway system, his father and neighbors said.

The boy also loves trains and has taken off a handful of times in the past, Joe and the building’s superintendent said.

“When I saw cops outside, I knew immediately,” the super said. “I told them to go to the subways.”

Joe said he fears his son does not understand the dangers of running away, even after the remains of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic 14-year-old who went missing in October, were found washed up in College Point two weeks ago.

“We try to tell him not to do this, especially after what happened to Avonte,” Joe said.

Avonte and Brandon are both from Rego Park. They were former classmates, though not at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, where Avonte was last seen leaving, Joe said.

“For parents of autistic kids, I want them to know they are runners. I don’t know what it is about that, but they tend to run,” Joe said. “Always be on alert.”

Though frightening, the situation is common, said Michelle López, who manages autism initiatives at Queens Museum. Similar scenarios are likely to increase as more families push for inclusion, she said. 

“We’re going to see more of these types of situations, where there will be a missing child with autism and people don’t know how to interact, when they see a wandering child who doesn’t respond to them,” she said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to be aware now.”

Autism Speaks, a leading advocacy organization, urges parents to secure homes with battery-operated door alarms, alert neighbors and consider identification bracelets or tracking devices.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer wants the Department of Justice to create and fund a program that would provide voluntary trackers for children with autism or other development disorders.

Councilmember Paul Vallone is drafting a bill, calling for a similar citywide program.

 

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Avonte Oquendo remembered as smiling, courageous boy at funeral


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Cristabelle Tumola / Avonte Oquendo photo: handout

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA 

After the search for autistic Rego Park teen Avonte Oquendo ended tragically, hundreds of mourners came out to say goodbye at his funeral Saturday, where he was remembered as a silent yet always smiling, courageous boy.

Family and friends gathered at a private ceremony held at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home in Manhattan, where a “beautiful silence” took over the room, said Leslie Burch, a close family friend. Also among those paying respects was actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose son has autism.

Avonte’s father is consoled before a service for his son at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home.

Mourners then made their way to St. Joseph’s Church, just a few blocks away, where a public mass was led by former Archbishop of New York Edward Michael Egan.

“He was a strong, courageous young man who handled the struggle with autism with tremendous greatness and true nobility,” said Egan, standing next to a large portrait of Avonte wearing a blue striped shirt, which was also handed out on prayer cards.

Egan also took the time to thank and recognize the efforts that went into the nearly four month search for the missing 14-year-old after he was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on Oct. 4.

Avonte’s mother waits to place a white rose on her son’s casket.

Officials confirmed Tuesday that remains found washed up along the East River in College Point last week were those of Avonte. The cause and manner of  death are pending on future tests, according to the medical examiner.

“Police officers and various agencies of our beloved city made it no less clear that they too knew how precious Avonte was,” said Egan.

Although Avonte’s family decided not to speak during the services Saturday, his mother, together with his brothers and other mourners, laid white roses on top of his white casket following the release of doves outside of the church.

Another family member that attended the service was Avonte’s cousin and best friend 20 –year-old Noah Javan Conti from Woodside who is mildly autistic.

Rocopra Conti, who raised Noah and also attended the funeral, remembers the last time he saw Avonte. That day the teen grabbed Rocopra’s face and gave him one last look.

Noah Javan Conti, Avonte’s cousin and best friend, and Rocopra Conti.

“That was the last moment we shared,” said Rocopra. “I knew how to love him, I knew what he was feeling. I just wish I could have done more.”

Family attorney David Perecman, who spoke at the funeral mass, said that even though the search was concluded, the story is not finished yet.

“I must ask all of you, I ask that this not be the last chapter in this very sad story. We must have at least one more,” said Perecman. “This loss that this family has of Avonte cannot be in vain, we must find out how to fix our schools, we must find out how to fix the system of security that failed this boy.”

There have been conflicting reports on how Avonte, who could not verbally communicate and was supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave his school the day he went missing.

Following the identification of her son, Vanessa Fontaine filed suit against the City of New York on Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to court records.

Fontaine filed the court action demanding the NYPD release records relating to the disappearance of Avonte, according to published reports.

Perecman also said he will be filing a $25 million negligence claim against the city, focused on the Department of Education, for wrongful death.

 

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Remains IDed as missing teen Avonte Oquendo


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 4:27

BY ANGY ALTAMIRANO, MAGGIE HAYES, CRISTABELLE TUMOLA, TERENCE M. CULLEN 

The search for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo has come to a devastating end for his family who never gave up hope that he would return home alive.

Almost four months after he was last seen at his Long Island City school, a spokesperson for the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed remains found washed up in College Point are those of the missing autistic teen.

The cause and manner of the death has not yet been determined and is pending on future tests, according to spokesperson Julie Bolcer.

After a passerby found an arm and legs Thursday night near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place, police began to comb through the area. Clothing discovered with the remains seemed to indicate that the search for Avonte could soon be over.

A pair of size 16 jeans and size 5 ½ Air Jordan sneakers found with the remains matched those belonging to Avonte, said David Perecman, the family’s lawyer.

Over the weekend, authorities also recovered more body parts, including a skull, another arm, jaw and rib bones, as well as a white shirt with gray stripes similar to what Avonte was wearing when he went missing, according to police.

Avonte’s older brother Daniel Oquendo Jr. took to Instagram Tuesday afternoon to remember the teen.

“Rest in peace little brother. This world never deserved you. I will long for the day I can join you in paradise. Forever in our hearts, prayers, and mind. Love You,” he said in the post.

Oquendo also took the time to thank all who helped the family search for his brother during the past few months.

“The tenacity the world, especially NYC, has shown in regards to finding Avonte and spreading awareness has been unmatched in comparison to any other missing child investigation. For that we are forever grateful to you,” he said.

At the end of the post, Oquendo asks everyone to respect his family and give them both space and time as they mourn Avonte. 

“Thank you for the prayers. God bless, and may Avonte rest in peace,” he said.

Avonte was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Oct. 4. The school is just across from the East River.

His mother, Vanessa Fontaine, previously told The Courier her son was afraid of the water and thought he “wouldn’t go near it.”

There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who could not verbally communicate and was supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

Earlier this month, Perecman obtained a Department of Education occurrence report which showed a timeline of what happened before, during and after the boy went missing – but only left larger question marks. 

Perecman said he will be filing a $25 million negligence claim against the city, focused on the Department of Education (DOE), for wrongful death. 

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña released a statement Tuesday saying the school community is in mourning and extended her deepest condolences to Avonte’s family. 

“Over the past several months, I have been among the countless New Yorkers who have been holding our breath in hope that Avonte Oquendo would be found unharmed. And I am among the many who are heartbroken to learn the news today,” said Fariña. “As Chancellor, I am determined that we learn every lesson we can from this terrible tragedy and do everything in our power to prevent incidents like this from ever occurring again. Let Avonte remind us how important it is that we continue to look out for one another.”

 

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More remains found potentially belonging to Avonte Oquendo


| editorial@queenscourier.com

College Point

CRISTABELLE TUMOLA, TERENCE CULLEN, ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND MAGGIE HAYES

Authorities continue to search the College Point site this weekend where human remains and clothing possibly belonging to missing teen Avonte Oquendo were found, as tests are underway to determine the body’s identity.

The search began when a passerby found an arm and legs Thursday near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place about 7:15 p.m.

Police later turned up jaw, shoulder, collar and pelvic bones, ribs and several vertebrae, the NYPD said.

Another arm was additionally recovered over the weekend and the search is continuing Sunday, according to published reports.

A pair of size 16 jeans and size 5 ½ Air Jordan sneakers were found with the remains, matching those belonging to Avonte, said David Perecman, the family’s lawyer.

Authorities also recovered a white shirt with gray stripes similar to what Avonte was wearing when he went missing, according to police.

Tests to determine if the body is Avonte will take “days,” cops said Friday.

Avonte was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Oct. 4. The school is just across from the East River.

His mother, Vanessa Fontaine, said her 14-year-old son is afraid of the water and thought he “wouldn’t go near it.”

There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

Perecman will file suit on Monday, seeking $25 million in a civil suit focused against the Department of Education and school safety.

 

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Human remains, clothing possibly belonging to Avonte Oquendo found in College Point


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Robert Stridiron

Updated Saturday, Jan. 18, 10:10 a.m.

BY TERENCE CULLEN, ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND MAGGIE HAYES

Divers continue to comb through the East River after human remains washed ashore in College Point, potentially belonging to missing child Avonte Oquendo.

If DNA tests link the parts to Avonte, the family wants the city to pay up. Attorney David Perecman will file suit on Monday, seeking $25 million in a civil suit focused against the Department of Education and school safety.

A passerby found what police believe to be an arm and legs Thursday night near Powell Cove Boulevard and Endeavor Place about 7:15 p.m.

After searching the area, police discovered jaw, shoulder, collar and pelvic bones, ribs and several vertebrae.

A pair of size 16 jeans and size 5 ½ Air Jordan sneakers were found with the remains, matching those belonging to Avonte, said David Perecman, the family’s lawyer. The skin color, however, is unidentifiable.

A white shirt with gray stripes that is similar to what Avonte was wearing when he went missing was also discovered with the remains, according to police.

“It’s a huge amount of evidence,” Perecman said. “The evidence is the DNA.”

It will take “days” to determine if the body is Avonte, cops said.

“It’s been in the water long enough that you can’t tell the skin color. It’s been in the water long enough that it’s not an intact body,” Perecman said.

But Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, continues to hold out hope.

Fontaine said her 14-year-old autistic son is afraid of the water and thought he “wouldn’t go near it.”

Perecman said Fontaine is “a stoic individual,” but “inside I think she’s twisted. The guilt that runs through her must be monumental.”

Avonte, 14, was last seen on October 4 at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Ave. in Long Island City. The school is just across from the East River. The Rego Park teen cannot verbally communicate.

There have been conflicting reports on how Avonte, who is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school.

Since he went missing, the reward to find him has increased to $95,000.

With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola and Sal Licata

 

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Body of missing man who was staying with family in Queens found in Central Park Lake


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The body of a missing 22-year-old college student visiting family in Jamaica was recovered from the Central Park Lake Wednesday after taking his own life, according to officials.

Aronno Haque was last seen Monday afternoon around Manhattan’s Union Square Park, police said.

After discovering his personal belongings near the lake, police searched the water for him Tuesday and Wednesday before finding his body, the NYPD said.

Among his belongings was a bag with a suicide note inside of it, police said. The Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed Thursday that he took his own life and said his cause of death was drowning.

Haque was attending Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. and is a Bangladesh native, according to a Reddit post.

When on break from school, he stayed with family members in Queens, police said.

According to a Facebook page set up in his memory, Haque was an only child.

 

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Reward for missing autistic teen increased to $75K as search continues two weeks later


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy NYPD

After two weeks since Avonte Oquendo was last seen leaving his Long Island City School, the search continues for the lovable autistic teen.

Avonte, 14, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been mixed reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student.  Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, previously told The Courier the school “failed her” when they took close to an hour to inform her that Avonte had gone missing.

However, according to reports, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the school safety officer did nothing wrong and investigations show she did what she had to do.

The NYPD has officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers. Recently, the police has been driving around in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers echoing Avonte’s mother’s calls.

Avonte’s family also sought the help from the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a group of volunteers that have helped find numerous missing people throughout the country.

The team said it would be traveling to the site on Friday, October 18 and would “evaluate the situation” to determine if they have resources to help search for Avonte.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, taking claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $75,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Reverend Al Sharpton will hold a community outreach rally on Saturday, October 19 at 9:30 a.m. at the National Action Network headquarters located at 106 West 145th Street in Manhattan.

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

The NYPD has released a new photo of Avonte together with an image of the shirt he was wearing the day he went missing.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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UPDATE: Missing 13-year-old Howard Beach boy found at train station


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF DREGER FAMILY

A 13-year-old initially thought to have possibly been kidnapped was found just trying to go to the beach.

Griffin Dreger, who was thought to be missing Friday morning, was found at the at the Jamaica LIRR station the same day around 3 p.m., unharmed. Police said he was trying to buy a train ticket to Montauk Point.

This morning at about 6:40 a.m., Dreger went to take out the trash, just as he does every morning outside his Howard Beach co-op. After a few minutes, Dreger’s stepfather, Juan Palacios, went outside to find him, only to realize he wasn’t there.

“I just started screaming his name,” Palacios said. “I thought he got kidnapped.”

Palacios and his wife called police, and a search ensued. His wife spent a portion of the day with detectives while family and friends placed “missing” flyers around their Lindenwood neighborhood.

After the initial missing report, over a dozen cops, at least a dozen detectives, three police dogs and helicopters were sent out to find the missing boy, according to a police source.

As the facts came in, police started to look at the case “more as a runaway” and not as an “abduction,” the source said.

“Initially . . . we started thinking maybe there is a chance [of kidnapping], but now most of the facts are pointing to a runaway,” said the law enforcement source.

Palacios’ mother said “he’s a good kid, he wouldn’t run away.”

“He’s a good kid,” echoed neighbor Annmarie Hegarty. “He doesn’t roam the boulevard. I always ask, ‘Where’s Griffin?’ They say he’s upstairs studying.”

Palacios said last night Dreger wanted him, his stepfather and mother to all “play hooky” and spend the day together.

A video camera near the dumpster caught Dreger this morning “jogging” to the trashcan, throwing in the bag and then “jogging” away. Police said there was no urgency in how he was moving, Palacios said.

“We’re hoping he’s playing hooky,” he said. “I hope he comes back. I hope he’s alright.”

 

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Elderly Queens man missing


| brennison@queenscourier.com

1790-12 107 pct Zhang

A silver alert has been issued for a missing Queens man last seen yesterday morning in Briarwood.

Hong Sheng Zhang, 78, went missing at 11:30 a.m. yesterday near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and Main Street.

Zhang, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is 5-feet-3-inches tall, 120 pounds, with grey shaved hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing a waist length green jacket, a white and yellow baseball hat and yellow pants.

Anyone with information on Zhang’s whereabouts is asked to call 9-1-1.

18-year-old goes missing


| editorial@queenscourier.com

102 missing

Police are looking for a missing 18-year-old who was last seen on Thursday, October 11 at his 88th Avenue home.

Kevin Celestin is described as a black male and was wearing a green T-shirt, blue jeans and tan boots when he was last seen around 9 a.m. He is 5’11” and weighs 180 pounds.

Anyone with information on Celestin’s whereabouts is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Police looking for missing 14-year-old


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Police are looking for a missing 14-year-old Flushing boy.

Brian Hur was last seen at his home on 165th Street around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 9. He is described as 5’3” tall and 105 pounds.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.