Family of teen found dead in Mass. speak out

Father declines to say whether teen may have been trying to get to Baltimore

November 23, 2010|By a Sun staff writer

The last time Anthony Tisdale saw his 16-year-old son, their family had spent a normal Sunday doing yard work and other chores around their North Carolina home, followed by a pizza dinner. The teen, who grew up in Baltimore, went to play video games, and his father said good night.

Delvonte Tisdale's mutilated body would be found the next evening more than 800 miles away in an affluent Massachusetts suburb. In their first remarks to the media Tuesday, the family said they were baffled by the circumstances of the case.

"My son was a hard-working young man," Anthony Tisdale told reporters in Charlotte, N.C., during a news conference streamed over the Internet. "He didn't frequent the streets. He didn't listen to a lot of out-of-the-way music. He played video games, and spent time with the family. We did projects around the house. And, you know, he loved the ROTC."

The boy's father, joined by a grandmother from Baltimore and the family pastor, appeared to refute earlier reports that Delvonte was upset about living in North Carolina but did not directly address questions about whether he might have wanted to get back to Baltimore, where he had lived until recently.

"My son was ecstatic of Charlotte … he was really able to associate himself with a lot of good folks at North Mecklenberg High. It became part of who he was," Anthony Tisdale said. "He was very excited."

Asked by a reporter if the boy might have wanted to join family in Baltimore, Tisdale deferred to the family's pastor, the Rev. James Woodson.

"It would be difficult to make the observation that he was dissatisfied about being here," Woodson said. "Now, the longings of a 16 year old — all kids got secrets. We just don't know."

Tisdale also declined to discuss in detail when he first realized his son was missing, saying the investigators were still trying to piece together the teen's last moments.

"My son hasn't missed a day of school in two school terms," he said. "At that point, I was immediately concerned."

Tisdale reported his son missing to police at about 6 p.m. Nov. 15. The boy's body was found about 9:30 that night in Milton, Mass., though it took days to determine his identity because of the extent of his injuries. A school hall pass was found on his body, and police confirmed his identity using fingerprints.

Reports surfaced Tuesday morning that investigators were exploring a "remote possibility" that Delvonte had stowed away in an airplane wheel well and had fallen to his death, though Tisdale and Woodson said they had not heard the report.

Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for Massachusetts' airport authority, told The Boston Glove that authorities were checking records to see what flights and what type of aircraft passed over Milton last Monday night. Arriving flights heading to Runway 4R fly over Milton, he said.

In a statement, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating said authorities were "investigating every possibility regarding how Delvonte Tisdale came to be found dead."

The family pleaded for anyone with information to contact authorities. "This is the most baffling thing we could possibly understand," Woodson said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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