Authorities are trying to determine what happened to a North Carolina teenager whose body was found underneath a flight path in Massachusetts with “trauma that was consistent with a fall from a significant height,” a Massachusetts district attorney said Friday.
The mystery started on November 15, when 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale was last seen by a sibling at their home in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to William R. Keating, district attorney Norfolk County, Massachusetts.
Later that day, his family discovered Tisdale wasn’t home and reported him missing.
“About 7 p.m., a Boeing 737-400 aircraft was boarded and took off from North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International Airport, en route to Boston’s Logan Airport,” Keating told reporters.
“At approximately 9:30 p.m. that same evening, a group of area college students came upon a severely injured body” in the town of Milton, Keating said. “This was directly below a flight path.”
The body was later determined to be Tisdale.
The autopsy on Tisdale’s body “did not reveal any knife or gun wounds, but did show trauma that was consistent with a fall from a significant height.”
Investigators examined two airlines that had originated in Charlotte and followed a similar flight path, Keating said. They found “what appeared to be physical evidence of someone having been in a left wheel well of one of the planes was located and documented — including hand prints visible in greasy areas and scuff marks in the area that would accommodate a person.”
During the investigation, Keating said, one local resident described hearing a loud, crashing noise shortly before 9 p.m. the night Tisdale’s body was found.
State police have ruled out motor vehicle homicide as a possible cause for Tisdale’s injuries.
“The theory that the death may have involved a fall from a passing airplane — as has happened in other parts of the country and other parts of the world — began to be explored,” Keating said.
Fingerprints lifted from Tisdale’s body were run through a national database, but no matches were found.
“But investigators released a handwritten note found in the pocket of the jeans he was wearing, and a member of the family recognized the name and made contact with Milton police,” Keating said.
Last week, Massachusetts state and local police traveled to North Carolina to take samples of grease used in maintaining aircraft to see if the grease found on Tisdale’s pants could be matched to that grease, Keating said. Forensics tests are still pending.