CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The father of a North Carolina teen whose mutilated body was found on a suburban Boston street said Tuesday he was struggling with the boy’s death amid reports authorities were investigating whether the student might have fallen from an aircraft’s wheel well.
Anthony Tisdale said he last saw his son Delvonte on Nov. 14 when they did yard work together and the family had pizza for dinner. When the 16-year-old failed to return from school the following day, the family called police. The boy’s remains were found last week in Milton, Mass., several days after he was reported missing.
Other relatives described the boy as being unhappy in North Carolina and having missed Baltimore, a city he had lived in until he was 13.
In Boston, Logan International Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said investigators requested flight path information and were looking into the “remote” possibility that Delvonte may have fallen from a plane’s landing gear well.
Anthony Tisdale said at a news conference Tuesday in Charlotte that investigators haven’t told his family anything about an airplane and he has no idea how his son ended up near Boston.
The district attorney’s office in Norfolk, Mass., said an investigation is ongoing but its statement did not address reports that investigators where checking for a possible fall from a plane.
Delvonte Tisdale was a member of the Air Force ROTC program at Charlotte’s North Mecklenburg High School. His father said the family had moved from Greensboro to Charlotte in the summer just so the teen could join that program.
Tisdale said his son was happy to be in Charlotte and loved high school.
“Being here such a short time and losing my son is very difficult,” Anthony Tisdale said, wiping away tears as he spoke with reporters Tuesday. “My son was a hardworking young man, he didn’t frequent the streets … he spent time with his family.”
The teen’s brother told The Associated Press by telephone on Tuesday that the teenager was unhappy in North Carolina and had never wanted to leave Baltimore, where he had lived earlier.
“He was very strict,” Anthony Tisdale Jr., 21, also said of his father. “My brother hated it there.”
“My brother just wanted to come home,” he said, adding the teen “just couldn’t take it there.’
At his news conference, Anthony Tisdale said his teenage son enjoyed life in North Carolina. “My son was ecstatic about being in Charlotte. He loved his high school. He associated with a lot of good folk,” the father said.
Authorities said Tisdale’s body suffered “massive trauma,” but an autopsy didn’t report how he died.
Asked about the possibility that Tisdale may have fallen from an aircraft, Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, said: “I’m not aware of that suggestion.” She said the TSA was deferring to law enforcement authorities on the matter.
John Hansman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said there have been cases of people stowing away in the wheel well of commercial airplanes and not surviving.
Hansman, who isn’t one of the investigators on the case, said there is some “limited evidence” that could support the theory that Tisdale stowed away in a plane’s wheel well and fell out as the aircraft passed over Milton, a community several miles from Logan. He said the area where Tisdale’s body was found is under the final approach course for one of that airport’s runways, where crew would typically be lowering an aircraft’s landing gear.
Jim Peters, a spokesman for FAA, did not immediately return a call seeking confirmation.