NBC 4 New York
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says officers are now going back over areas they've already searched in hopes of finding the missing Rego Park teen. Among some of their tools is an infrared camera. Checkey Beckford reports.
Fourteen-year-old Avonte Oquendo remains missing two weeks after he skipped away from his Long Island City school, despite an intensive search that has utilized everything from volunteer posters to infrared cameras and loudspeakers blasting his mother's voice.
Police said Friday morning that there have been no new developments in the search for the boy, who is autistic and cannot speak for himself. They released a new photo of the striped polo shirt he was wearing when he was last seen leaving school Oct 4.
The high-profile search and rescue organization Texas EquuSearch joined the search in Long Island City Friday, though founder Tim Miller admitted the search volunteers had little to go on: "We have nothing. We know what time he left the school."
Oquendo's brother Andrew Fontaine remained optimistic the boy would return home.
"Deep inside, I know my brother's alive," he said Friday. "I know he's alive and he's out there and he's safe. If someone has him, please let him go."
On Thursday, police began using a van with an infrared camera that can detect body heat in the event the boy was hiding where he couldn't be seen. Another police van is blasting Avonte's mother's voice over a loudspeaker telling the boy to come toward flashing police lights, and subway cars and station walls and escalators are papered with missing posters featuring multiple pictures of the boy.
The measures are the latest in an intensive search which has seen volunteers, members of the city's autistic community and dozens of specially assigned officers combing the city for the boy.
Crews have searched New York's waters and every one of the city's subway lines trying to find the child, who loves trains, authorities have said.
Police are now looking outside the city for the boy, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
"It has been expanded outside the New York City area," Kelly said of the search. "We're asking other law enforcement agencies and volunteers to help in that regard."
While Avonte's family told NBC 4 New York Monday they feared foul play, they were still holding out hope that the boy would be found soon.
"We have the feeling that we'll be done with this soon," said Avonte's father, Daniel Oquendo.
Police Chief Phillip Banks said earlier this week that Avonte's disappearance has hit a personal note with investigators.
"Everybody is rooting for this effort to bring this young man home," said Banks.