Norfolk DA Confirms Delvonte Tisdale's Death and Acknowledges Security Breach
DA confirms that Tisdale breached security in North Carolina and his death was likely the result of falling from a commercial jet.
Norfolk County District Attorney Bill Keating confirmed this evening that Delvonte Tisdale's death was likely the result from trauma sustained after falling from a commercial plane – which means a huge breach in airport security occurred.
Tisdale, whose badly damaged body was discovered on November 15 on Brierbrook Street, a quiet residential street in Milton that abuts the Blue Hills, sustained injuries that were "so unique and severe it puzzled even the most veteran homicide detectives," Keating said at a press conference today.
State, local and North Carolina officials investigated the case and followed the evidence. The theory of a death resulting from falling from a plane was a possibility in the beginning of the investigation. "This sounded quite remote, that someone could breach security and get aboard" a Boeing 737 jet, Keating said.
However, the District Attorney's Office, along with Milton Police and State Police, ruled out a stabbing, gunshot or trauma from a hit and run as causes of death, he said. "There is no scintilla of evidence of foul play being involved," he stated. Toxicology reports have also come back negative, although the Medical Examiner's Office is still waiting on a cause of death, he said.
Today Keating released new information in the case and addressed the security breach that occurred.
Milton Police traced the path along the 7:00 p.m. Boeing 737's flight over Milton and discovered new evidence: two dark Nike Air sneakers with white stripes and a red shirt. The clothing matched the description Tisdale's family gave of what the teen was wearing when he went missing on November 15 in Charlotte, N.C.
Police interviewed a Milton neighbor who stated that he heard a crashing noise right before 9:00 p.m., the time the jetliner would have passed over Milton, Keating said.
Officials also confirmed new evidence in the jet's left, rear, wheel well that showed smudged, grease markings along with a greasy handprint, Keating said. Officials are still waiting to see results to see if the grease samples found on Tisdale's pants match that of the jetliner, he said.
It is still unclear what happened after the teen left his home in Charlotte, N.C., but what is known is that he "somehow managed to hide himself in the wheel well of a commercial jetliner," Keating said.
The altitude of the stowaway's flight was so high and the temperature was so cold that a plastic key card (one commonly used for a hotel room) found with Tisdale's body had frozen and shattered into tiny pieces, Keating said.
Also it is unclear why Tisdale, who was a member of the Junior R.O.T.C in North Carolina, boarded the Charlotte to Boston plane. Keating said they are almost certain it was a U.S. Airlines plane, but officials do not know how the Charlotte teen managed to pass security and stowaway in the wheel well.
Keating turned his attention to the safety breach that occurred when the teen tucked under the commercial jet and managed to avoid security.
"The abuse is alarming," he said of the security breach. "This causes great concern."
All major authorities have been notified, including the FAA, TSA and Homeland Security, according to Keating.
"A 16-year-old man, on his own...was able to hide himself in the wheel well of a commercial jetliner...better be investigated," Keating said. "We have to make sure this doesn't happen again. It's a terrible tragedy what happened to this young man."
But, "if this was a terrorist, that could've been a bomb planted," Keating stated about the potential risks of such a breach. "This is very serious."
Keating said he wanted to make public what appears to be a "major breach of airport security. To withhold information, at this point, would endanger public security."
In terms of the witnesses and cars that had been impounded, everyone has been cleared, Keating said. Both the college student's Jeep and the white Audi had evidence of Tisdale's body on the undercarriage, but the evidence was not consistent with that of a hit and run crash, Keating stated.