Here’s an update to that sad and bizarre story we posted last month:
It’s likely that North Carolina teen Delvonte Tisdale, whose remains were found in a Boston suburb, fell from the sky after stowing away in an airplane’s wheel well, according to a Massachusetts prosecutor.
At a Friday press conference, Norfolk District Attorney William Keating cited evidence including a handprint in the wheel well, clothes strewn along the plane’s flight path and an autopsy report indicating the 16-year-old fell “from a significant height.” Keating said that he’d informed federal transportation safety officials about the apparent airport security breach by 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale.
“To withhold any information at this point I think would endanger public safety,” said Keating, a Democrat who was elected in November to represent Massachusetts’ 10th Congressional District. Keating held the press conference after police searched a wooded area in Milton near where Tisdale’s mutilated body was found last month. Along a path a Boston-bound plane would have taken while approaching the city, they found dark sneakers with white stripes and a red shirt matching clothing Tisdale’s family said he’d worn, Keating said.
Investigators discovered a handprint in grease inside the wheel well on the left side of a Boeing 737 that took off from Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 15, the night Tisldale’s body was found, Keating said. “We feel it’s important to inform federal transportation safety officials that it appears more likely than not that Mr. Tisdale was able to breach airport security and hide in the wheel well of a commercial jet liner without being detected by airport security personnel,” Keating said.
Keating called what happened to Tisdale “a terrible tragedy.” “But if that was someone with a different motive, if that was a terrorist, that could be a bomb planted on there undetected,” Keating said. Jon Allen, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said: “We will work with the airport, which is responsible for access control security, to conduct a thorough investigation based on the facts and information provided by law enforcement.”
Tisdale was a member of the Air Force ROTC program at North Mecklenburg High School near Charlotte. His father, Anthony, said the family had moved from Greensboro to Charlotte in the summer just so the teen could join that program. Anthony Tisdale said his son was happy in Charlotte and stayed out of trouble.
But Delvonte Tisdale’s brother, Anthony Tisdale Jr., said his brother was unhappy in North Carolina and had never wanted to leave Baltimore, where he had lived earlier. Delvonte’s grandmother, Lula Mae Smith, said Friday evening from her home in Baltimore that she hadn’t been told about the prosecutor’s finding. “This is a surprise,” Smith said. “He was such a good boy. I don’t know what happened – why he would jump on an airplane. I just don’t know.”