National Center for Missing & Exploited Children via AP
Police are expanding the search for a 14-year-old mute autistic boy last seen running away from his Queens school a week ago, adding extra officers to the investigation and interviewing sex offenders in the area.
The NYPD said Friday that 50 additional officers have been added to assist in the search for Avonte Oquendo.
Police are concentrating some of the search in subway and transit facilities because of the boy's fascination with trains.
The family set up a command post under a tent near his school where he went missing
"We get leads throughout the day, and whenever we get them, we try to take them seriously," said Danny Oquendo. "We call police detectives, then volunteers who go to that area."
Avonte's father, Daniel Oquendo, spent the entire night Thursday searching for his son. He said in an interview about 4 a.m. Friday that he hadn't slept more than about 12 hours since his son went missing.
"We can't even sleep," he said. "It's hard to sleep knowing your child is out there and he could be cold and hungry and he can't even communicate."
A vigil for Avonte is set for Friday at 5 p.m. at the tent next to Center Boulevard School in Long Island City.
First published October 11 2013, 9:54 AM