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Search Effort For Missing Autistic Teen Spreads To Maryland

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Derek Valcourt 370x278 Derek Valcourt
Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The search for a missing 14-year-old autistic boy who disappeared in New York City earlier this month has now spread to surrounding states.

Derek Valcourt explains why some search efforts have spread to Maryland.

A huge part of the search in New York has focused on the train system and officials aren’t ruling out the possibility he may have boarded any train–even one bound for Baltimore.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, was last seen Oct. 4 on surveillance video at his Queens school running through the halls alone and then leaving the building. The autistic boy is non-verbal with the mental capacity of a 7-year-old, according to his distraught family.

“Every day, we’re just supporting each other, trying to keep our spirits up, hoping for a good word,” said a relative.

New York police launched a massive search involving hundreds of officers. They searched by air, in the water, on the ground and below ground in the subway system. Family members say he loved all trains and may have gotten aboard one.

“If he were to get on the train, it’s probably just to ride it maybe a couple stops. I don’t think he would ride it days and days,” said a relative.

But authorities aren’t taking any chances. That’s why a missing person flyer has now been circulated to surrounding states, including Maryland. Flyers have already been distributed to all law enforcement in Maryland and through Amtrak security.

“The number one reason that child is recovered is because someone saw their photograph, so that’s why it’s imperative to get it out there in the public eye,” said Carla Proudfoot, Maryland Center for Missing and Unidentified Persons.

The reward for his return is now close to $90,000. So far, more than 6,700 volunteers have helped with the search for the missing boy.

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