Updated Saturday, October 11, 8:01 a.m.
The family of a missing autistic Queens teen held a vigil for him Friday as the reward for his safe return was increased to $70,000.
An initial $5,000 reward 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 Thursday it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.
The reward was increased to $70,000 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, which is representing the boy’s family, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.
Avonte Oquendo, 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.
The Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate, somehow managed to escape the school, though he is reportedly supposed to be supervised at all times.
The family, according to published reports, has filed a notice of claim to sue city, and has said that a security guard at the school saw their son leave but didn’t stop him and waited a long time to let the child’s mother know that he was missing.
Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. Oquendo is 5’3″ tall and weighs 125 pounds.
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.
A vigil for the missing teen was held at 5 p.m. Friday across from his school.
Video via YouTube/Autism Speaks
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