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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Delvonte Tisdale Planned To Enlist In U.S. Military; Was Respectable Student

Last Update: December 14, 2010: 12:57pm

Delvonte Tisdale's Mother Can’t Fathom Why He May Have Stowed Away

As Jonette Washington prepares a private service to remember her 16-year-old son, Delvonte Tisdale, she remains mystified by his apparent decision to flee his father’s home in North Carolina and climb into the wheel well of a commercial airplane.

“My first instinct was it can’t be true,’’ Washington said yesterday in an interview from her Baltimore home. “He wouldn’t do anything like that. He has no reason to do anything like that. All he had to do was pick up the phone and say, ‘Mommy, I’m ready to come home,’ and I’d go get him.’’

Tisdale and his younger brother and sister had been living with their father for a year and a half, and although Anthony Tisdale, a chef, was stricter than she was, his relationship with the children seemed generally good, Washington said.

Why Delvonte Tisdale left around Nov. 15 as everyone slept — and, according to authorities, sneaked into a US Airways plane bound for Boston — is a puzzle that may never be solved. A spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating said yesterday that investigators scoured his family’s computer and cellphone — Tisdale did not have his own — and found nothing that indicated he planned to do something so drastic.

On Friday, Washington will hold a small service at her home, where she will gather with close friends and family and tell stories about her son.

She said she will make his favorite dish, fried chicken and potatoes, and put out a yellow cake with white icing. A picture of Tisdale in his ROTC uniform will be iced onto the cake. He will be buried in Baltimore, Washington said.

Washington, a 35-year-old nursing student, said she accepts what authorities are telling her but cannot reconcile their conclusions with what she knew of her son, whom she described as a quiet, stable boy whose wildest behavior had been to once cut school.

Contrary to reports, she said, he never ran away from home, but he had been more aloof in recent weeks.

“I think it was something that was building that nobody actually saw or knew about,’’ Washington said. “Just sounded like something was building and made him get fed up and he was just tired and wanted to leave.’’

Authorities from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the federal Transportation Security Administration, and US Airways declined yesterday to say how Tisdale managed to get onto the tarmac and climb into a Boeing 737 undetected.

“Airport security is a multi-layered process and every facility is different, based on how the facility works,’’ said Haley Gentry, an airport spokeswoman.

The boy’s family said they have no idea how Tisdale got to the airport, about 18 miles from his home, or if he had any friends who worked there.

In a statement, officials at the Charlotte airport said they were told on Dec. 1 by the Federal Aviation Administration that Massachusetts investigators would be examining two US Airways planes.

A US Airways spokesman referred questions to Massachusetts authorities.

David Traub, Keating’s spokesman, said that the Norfolk district attorney has no jurisdiction over airport security.

None of the images examined in the surveillance videos from the airport so far has shown Tisdale crawling into a plane’s wheel well, Traub said. An exact cause of death has not been released; officials are awaiting the medical examiner’s final report.

Fingerprints left on greasy parts of a plane’s wheel well have been photographed and digitally enhanced in the hopes they can be identified, said David Procopio, spokesman for Massachusetts State Police, who have been investigating the case with Milton officials since Tisdale’s battered body was found on a quiet Milton street Nov. 15. Officials said Tisdale apparently plunged to the ground as the plane opened its landing gear.

Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot who writes the “Ask the Pilot’’ column for, said, “We can have all the security in the world and short of turning the airport into a fortress, there’s always going to be a way for someone who is resourceful enough to find his way around security.’’

While it is unclear how the teenager bypassed security, Smith said the TSA exempts ground workers from the same security checkpoints, with metal detectors and X-ray machines, that pilots, flight attendants, and passengers are required to pass through.

Tisdale had never flown in his life, according to his mother. His father drove him and his siblings from Baltimore to North Carolina, where they went last year so they could get to know their father, whom they had not seen in years, Washington said.

“He was afraid of heights,’’ she said. “He didn’t even like going in a building that was high.’’

He was passionate about the Air Force ROTC program at his school, but his dream was to be a Marine, Washington said.

She said she last spoke to him on Nov. 8, his birthday. She was planning on visiting her children for Thanksgiving and Tisdale wanted her to meet his ROTC friends, Washington said.

Nothing seemed wrong, Washington said, but a couple of his friends told her later that he had been wanting to come back to Baltimore.

“All of a sudden he started becoming distant,’’ she said.

Anthony Tisdale said he was too distraught to speak yesterday.

On Saturday, he held a memorial for his son at a Charlotte church, said the Rev. James Woodson, the family’s pastor when they lived in Greensboro.

About 50 people came to mourn the teenager. His ROTC classmates presented Anthony Tisdale with a framed picture of his son in uniform.

The moment reminded the father of something his son once told him, Woodson said: “I want you to keep a picture of me because someday I’m going to be great.’’

Last Update: December 12, 2010; 3:00pm

McCrory On Stowaway Investigation: "This Is A Federal Problem", How Did It Happen?

Friday’s announcement by the district attorney from Norfolk County, Massachusetts said they had enough evidence to suggest Delvonte Tisdale climbed into the wheel well of a Boeing 737 and fell out of the jet just outside Boston last month.

Following that announcement, former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory told Eyewitness News the incident will prompt an international review of airport safety procedures.

He even said he "wouldn't be surprised" if Charlotte leaders are called to testify before Congress about what investigators have labeled a "major breach in security."

For five years, McCrory served on the Homeland Security Advisory Commission, along with 17 other leaders, including airline CEO's and the former director of the FBI.

“We are spending tens of millions of dollars protecting our airplanes from terrorists," McCrory said. "So to see a teenager gain access to a plane--not only on the ground but also up in the air—it has got to raise some major red flags from a national, and international perspective."

The TSA has said very little since investigators revealed they believe Tisdale breached security at Charlotte Douglas and gained access to a plane. Its only released a brief statement saying the airport--not the TSA--is responsible for "access control security."

McCrory says first and foremost, this is a federal problem.

"No one can pass the buck when it comes to access to an airplane. Especially by a teenager."

Eyewitness News spoke to Delvonte Tisdale's stepmom in Baltimore. She said she's furious at what investigators call a major breach in security.

"A 16-year-old boy managed to get onto the airport, climb up into a plane, and died inside this plane," said Diane Turner. "With nobody seeing him. No camera. No security. No anything."

McCrory believes the TSA and Homeland Security will use Tisdale's death to call for a major overhaul of perimeter security.

"I'm sure they'll look at fencing, lighting, cameras, and more people on the ground."

Investigators said Tisdale stowed away on a plane, but they aren't saying for sure how he did it. Eyewitness News has interviewed commercial pilots and Homeland Security experts who agree the most likely scenario is that he hopped a perimeter fence.

Charlotte Douglas Airport director Jerry Orr said as the investigation continues, the airport will make security changes as needed. The new developments in the investigation even had passengers concerned about security. Lauren Mihalchik was flying from Charlotte to Boston. She said, "I don't understand how someone could get through security and do all that. It obviously shows that the airport hasn't done something right."

In a phone converstation with Orr, Eyewitness News asked if the airport can reassure people that it is safe to fly. Orr said they take security very seriously, but said nobody can guarantee 100 percent safety.

Update: December 11, 2010; 11:34 am

Delvonte Tisdale May Have Fallen From Plane In Massachusetts

Authorities are investigating what happened to a North Carolina teenager whose body was found along a flight path in Massachusetts with "trauma that was consistent with a fall from a significant height," a Massachusetts district attorney said.

"It appears, more likely than not, that (Delvonte) Tisdale was able to breach airport security and hide in the wheel well of a commercial jetliner without being detected by airport security personnel," William R. Keating, district attorney for Norfolk County, Massachusetts, told reporters Friday.

The mystery started November 15, when 16-year-old Delvonte was last seen by a sibling at their home in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Keating.

Later that day, his family discovered Delvonte 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 Delvonte's.

The autopsy on Delvonte's body "did not reveal any knife or gun wounds, but did show trauma that was consistent with a fall from a significant height," Keating said. He said a toxicology test turned out negative.

Investigators examined two planes 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."

On Friday, Milton police and other authorities conducted a search of the wooded area along the flight path, Keating said.

"They recovered two dark Nike Air Force sneakers with white stripes, consistent with those that the Tisdale family describe as belonging to Delvonte," Keating said.

During the investigation, Keating said, one local resident described hearing a loud, crashing noise shortly before 9 p.m. the night Delvonte's body was found.

State police have ruled out motor vehicle homicide as a possible cause for Delvonte'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 Delvonte'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 Delvonte's pants could be matched to that grease, Keating said. Forensics tests are still pending.

Delvonte Tisdale Possibly Breached Charlotte's Airport Security

A month after the mangled body of a North Carolina teenager was found in a quiet Milton neighborhood, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating said yesterday that evidence indicates he stowed away in the wheel well of a plane and fell from the sky as the landing gear came down on the approach to Logan International Airport.

A shirt stained with what appeared to be grease used in airplanes and believed to be Delvonte Tisdale’s was recovered yesterday, along with sneakers, scattered along the flight path, Keating said. The items were found about a half-mile from where the 16-year-old’s body was discovered on Brierbrook Street on the night of Nov. 15, authorities said.

Fingerprints and a handprint were also discovered in the left wheel well of a Boeing 737 commercial airliner that left Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and landed at Logan about two hours later, Keating said. Investigators are still awaiting test results to confirm that the prints are Tisdale’s, but Keating said it appears likely that they are.

The conclusion that the teenager’s death was not believed to be a homicide, as initially thought, quickly shifted the focus of the investigation to the Charlotte airport and the Transportation Security Administration.

“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 airliner without being detected by airport security,’’ Keating said during a press conference, calling it a major breach of airport security.

Keating said that it was unclear how the teenager was able to get onto the tarmac and climb into the wheel well undetected at a time of heightened security, but that the probability that he did so raised troubling questions about the potential for a terrorist attack.

“There is great concern that with all of our efforts for security and the almost invasive type of efforts that are occurring right now, that something like this could happen,’’ said Keating, who will be sworn in next month as the new congressman from the 10th Congressional District.

He added, “It’s a terrible tragedy, what happened to this young man, but if that was someone with a different motive . . . if that was a terrorist, that could have been a bomb that was planted, undetected. This is very serious.’’

He said he notified federal officials yesterday that Tisdale somehow managed to breach security at the Charlotte airport.

Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the TSA, released a statement last night saying, “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.’’

Authorities at the Charlotte airport did not return repeated calls last night.

Tisdale’s parents could not be reached for comment last night. But, Norman Brown, a former neighbor of Delvonte Tisdale in Baltimore who said he was like an uncle to the teenager, reacted with disbelief to the announcement that the teenager fell from a plane.

“It seems pretty far-fetched to me,’’ said Brown, questioning how he could have made it across the tarmac and onto a plane with the increased scrutiny of the TSA. “He would have to go into the terminal, find out where the plane is, and he’d have to go to TSA to get to where that plane is. Then he would have to orient himself once he got on the field. That’s just too much for a child to do.

“That just doesn’t sound right at all. . . . I think there’s more to be investigated here.’’

Diane Turner, the mother of Delvonte Tisdale’s half-brother, Craig Tisdale, was also skeptical of the notion that Tisdale fell from a plane.

“Even though he wanted to go into the service, he was afraid of flying,’’ said Turner, who lives in Baltimore and considered Delvonte her stepson. “I just can’t see that happening. But then again, I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. Only God knows what happened to Delvonte.’’

Tisdale, a sophomore who was enrolled in the Air Force Junior ROTC program at his high school in Charlotte, NC., was last seen by a sibling some time after 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 15.

Keating would not identify the plane Tisdale was believed to have been on, but when asked if it was a US Airways flight, he acknowledged it had been “identified as such.’’

US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie said last night that he could neither confirm nor deny that Tisdale was on a company plane. He said the airline is cooperating with the investigation and declined further comment.

Keating said he spoke yesterday with Tisdale’s parents, but declined to disclose what was said.

Keating said it is unclear why Tisdale, who had relatives in Baltimore, would stow away on a Boston-bound plane. He said that Brierbrook Street is in the direct flight path used by aircraft heading to Logan and that a resident heard a crashing noise shortly before 9 p.m. Tisdale’s battered body was discovered about a half-hour later. Police initially suspected that he was slain, but found no evidence of foul play.

The pants Tisdale was wearing were also stained with what is believed to be grease used in airplanes, Keating said.

It was unclear whether Tisdale had survived the flight until he fell from the plane, said Keating. He added that a plastic card Tisdale was believed to be carrying shattered when it hit the ground, “consistent with being frozen’’ in flight.

Laura J. Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said that it is not uncommon worldwide for stowaways to hide in plane wheel wells, but that it is rare on planes originating in America.

The last person to stow away on a flight from a US airport was on April 14, 1972, when a frozen body was found in the left wheel well of a flight from San Diego to New York City.

In February of this year, a frozen body was found in the wheel well on a flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York when it landed at Narita International Airport in Japan, but it was later discovered that he did not actually stow away on the plane in New York. In fact, his body had been undetected in the wheel well since he stowed away Dec. 12, 2009, during a flight from Lagos, Nigeria, to New York.

Between 1996 and November of this year, there have been 86 stowaways involving 76 flights, of which 68 were fatal and 18 people survived.

Delvonte Tisdale's Classmates Grieve Over His Death

Delvonte Tisdale was a sophomore at North Mecklenburg High School for only three months, but the 16-year-old impressed fellow ROTC cadets and instructors as a hard worker who was passionate about joining the military.

“He’s one of those kids who came in and dove in,’’ said Major Mark Miller, who teaches classes as part of the school’s Air Force ROTC program. “Not everybody does that.’’

Miller said in a paper that Tisdale did for the class asking him to describe his ambitions, the young man wrote, “I want to be a high-ranking Marine officer.’’

Early yesterday, school officials held a moment of silence, asking students to think about the life of the teenager whose mangled body was found last week on a street in Milton after he disappeared from his father’s home in Charlotte.

Some students cried. Others could not understand what happened, wondering how he could have been found so far from home.

“How did he end up in Boston?’’ asked Emily Mercer, a 16-year-old junior, as she left school later in the day. “Why would something like this happen?’’

Grief counselors were available at the school yesterday, said Kathleen Johansen, a spokeswoman for the school, which has more than 1,700 students.

The new principal, Matthew Hayes, who started his first day yesterday, and Miller called Tisdale’s father and stepmother to express condolences, she said.

“It’s heartbreaking to learn something like this has happened to one of your students,’’ Johansen said.

Investigators in Massachusetts continued to search for suspects as well as answers to how Tisdale ended up about 900 miles north of his home.

“The investigation is ongoing,’’ said David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk district attorney’s office, declining to answer questions about the investigation.

Police in Milton did not return calls.

Some relatives said last week that Tisdale may have run away, as he had done several times. Tisdale had a contentious relationship with his father and may have been heading to Baltimore, where he had family, they said. Relatives also said he may have hitched a ride with someone bound for the Boston area.

In Huntersville, Miller said the 30 students in Tisdale’s ROTC unit are coping and have asked how they could honor their friend.

“For the small group that we have . . . it’s a hole,’’ Miller said. “Those kids were spending extra time with him, and now he’s not here.’’

Tisdale was a first-year cadet, so his classes were with students a year younger. But he spent much of his time with the older students in the ROTC program, in which 125 students participate.

“He never let us forget he was older,’’ Miller said, smiling.

It was the first time Tisdale had joined ROTC. He enrolled three months ago at the school and told instructors he came from a family of military men.

Tisdale spent up to 12 hours a week taking classes on the history of the Air Force and the science of flight and participating in ROTC activities, such as marching and volunteer work. He was often seen in dress uniform or ROTC sweatshirts.

Miller said the teen often stopped by his office, peppering him and the other instructor with questions about ROTC activities. “He liked us enough that we would have to send him back to class,’’ Miller said. “He was having a great time.’’

Tisdale spent weekends emptying garbage cans and directing cars at school football games and the Carolina Renaissance Festival in Huntersville, where ROTC junior officers volunteer to raise money for their programs.

Miller last saw Tisdale on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, during a drill practice, and he appeared to be in good spirits.

Three days later, the last day his father reported seeing him, Tisdale was scheduled to help out at the Renaissance Festival, but apparently did not go, the festival producer said. Last weekend, Massachusetts investigators interviewed fellow cadets working at the festival.

Thalik McDaniel, a 15-year-old sophomore who took the bus with Tisdale, said the school is rife with speculation about how the teen disappeared.

“It kind of scared me,’’ he said. “I don’t want to go outside anymore.’’

Tisdale was quiet but had made friends in the short time he was in school. “He was so friendly,’’ McDaniel said.

Tisdale’s aunt, who asked only to be identified by her first name, Laura, said the family is wondering whether the boy’s openness led him to trust a dangerous person.

“I think a lot of it is because he had a good heart; he just believed and trusted people,’’ she said. “We don’t want to speculate. We’re just not sure.’’

His aunt said the family hopes investigators find answers soon.

“Whoever knows what happened to him, I don’t know what I could say that would make that much of a difference, but whoever they are, justice will prevail,’’ she said. “Whether it takes 15 years, 20 years, or 30 years, time will catch up with you.’’

Neighbors of Anthony Tisdale, the teen’s 38-year-old father, left condolence cards and notes at the family’s home. Over the weekend, a neighbor left flowers, and others brought a dinner of chicken, potato casserole, green bean casserole, and rolls.

“There is nothing, nothing, any of us wouldn’t do for them,’’ said Shauna Stoll, a neighbor.

“I don’t think they’re really in a place to know what they need,’’ she said.

The northern Charlotte neighborhood, where the houses are about 17 years old, is tight-knit. The Tisdales, who moved to the area from Greensboro about five months ago, quickly made an impression with their warmth.

They had renovated their brick house and cleaned up the yard, with the help of their son, who often helped his father trim bushes and clear brush.

“This is a good family,’’ Stoll said.

She said the news has unsettled the neighborhood.

“We’ve had our fair share of problems over the years,’’ she said. “But nothing this painful.’’

Police Seek Help To Piece Together Delvonte Tisdale's Last Days

Police in Massachusetts are trying to piece together the final days of a Charlotte teen whose badly injured body was found in a Boston suburb -- and now they're asking the public for help.

Massachusetts State Police encourage anyone with information on 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale to call them at 781-830-4800 ext. 215.

Tisdale, 16, was reported missing Nov. 15 by relatives in Charlotte - the same day police found a body in Milton, Mass., with massive trauma to his entire body.

According to stories published by the Boston Globe, Milton police said Tisdale suffered broken bones and severe trauma, particularly to the head. Investigators also discovered bone fragments at the scene.

In Tisdale's pocket was a month-old hall pass with his name. It also included the words "A lunch" and a scribbled signature with the date "10/19/2010."

Police said an initial autopsy did not reveal a cause of death because the body had been so badly damaged.

Body Found In Milton Is Confirmed As N.C. Teen, Delvonte Tisdale

The teenager found dead on a Milton street last week is the 16-year-old who disappeared from his father’s house in North Carolina, authorities confirmed last night.

Police matched the fingerprint taken from the body, which was found Monday night, with samples taken from a personal item that belonged to Delvonte Tisdale, whose father reported him missing just hours before his body was found.

“The investigation into this death remains active and ongoing,’’ David Traub, spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating, said in a statement. No details were released about how Tisdale got to Boston or how he died.

Tisdale’s large family, which stretches from South Carolina to Baltimore, already knew he had been killed, according to his paternal aunt.

Over the weekend, she said, Massachusetts investigators showed the missing teen’s father, Anthony Tisdale, photos of the body found in Milton. He recognized the body as that of his son, his aunt said.

The aunt said she does not know what could have led to the teen’s disappearance.

“We’re just trying to put the pieces together in terms of what happened and who did this to him. We’re just trying to figure out why,’’ said Tisdale’s aunt, who asked that she be identified only by her first name, Laura, because of the media attention the case has attracted. “Our hearts are heavy and we’re just trying to go on.’’

Milton’s police chief, Richard G. Wells Jr., said last night that his thoughts and sympathy were with the teen’s family.

“This must be a surreal situation to have your son go to bed on Sunday night and wind up dead in such a violent manner hundreds of miles from his home the next day,’’ Wells said in an e-mail.

Wells praised the public for their help in identifying Tisdale.

“We want to thank the media and the public for their assistance in helping to identify this victim and make contact with his family,’’ Wells said. “We fielded dozens of calls and e-mails, but clearly this effort helped find this victim’s family.’’

The case has puzzled authorities since Monday night, when the body was found on Brierbrook Street, a secluded area of the town.

There was no identification on the body, except for what looked like a school lunch pass with what appeared to be Tisdale’s name on it.

Anthony Tisdale reported his son missing Monday at 5:48 p.m., according to a police report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. The body in Milton was found at about 9:30 that night.

A Milton police officer and two Massachusetts state troopers went to Charlotte on Friday to investigate the case. On Friday night, they were at the Tisdale home on Whitewood Trail, a quiet residential street.

They collected forensic evidence and snapped photos of the Tisdales’ brick, beige house, which the family had moved into about five months ago from Greensboro.

Laura said that on Friday or Saturday, police showed her brother the photos, warning him to brace himself.

“My brother is a very strong man,’’ Laura said. “I think it was by the grace of God that he was able to sustain that. He just wouldn’t allow anyone else to see [the photos] because it’s that graphic.’’

The body had been found with broken bones and evidence of massive trauma, especially to the head. A preliminary autopsy did not specify a cause of death.

Two people with knowledge of the investigation said the body looked like it had been run over by a vehicle.

Two vehicles matching the description of vehicles leaving the scene that night, including a white Audi with a Curry College sticker, were impounded.

Officials are also awaiting toxicology reports that might provide more clues about what happened to the teen.

Laura said that all the family can do now is wait for police to tell them what exactly killed Tisdale and for the body to be returned.

“Delvonte was everything to us,’’ she said. “We loved him.’’

A Charlotte police report has stated he was last seen at 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 14, but Laura said that Tisdale’s younger brother, who shared a room with him, saw him in bed at 1:30 Monday morning.

Laura said the family believes he must have disappeared well before 5:30 a.m., which is when Tisdale’s stepmother usually gets up to make sure the children are getting ready for school.

At first, Anthony Tisdale believed his son may have gone to school early, but when school officials told him he was not there, he began to panic, Laura said.

He drove all over Charlotte looking for his son, she said. When Delvonte, who is part of his school’s ROTC, did not return, the family contacted police.

Relatives are trying to understand how the teen got to Milton, which is 900 miles away from his home, in less than a day.

A half-brother of Tisdale’s told the Globe on Friday that he thought Tisdale may have gone with two friends who were heading to Boston and planned to drop him off in Baltimore, where he and his mother live.

Some of Tisdale’s relatives have said he has run away in the past and had had friction with his father, a Chef who neighbors said forbade his children from listening to rap music and wearing baggy pants.

Laura said the father and son loved each other. Delvonte was a quiet, reserved boy who often helped around the house, cleaning up the yard, and helping neighbors with yard work.

“Delvonte and Tony had a very good relationship,’’ Laura said. “He was a good father, a stern father. He wanted to raise his sons to be men.’’

Laura, who lives north of Charlotte, said her brother, whose four younger children live with him, is distraught and exhausted.

“He’s so tired,’’ she said. “It’s like a ton was dropped on him and he’s trying to stand and be as strong as he can because he still has the rest of his family to carry.’’

Laura said she and the rest of her siblings are trying to be strong for Tisdale.

“We’re going to get through this,’’ she said. “We’re going to be there to support our brother and love him. But no matter how much we say, his son is gone.’’

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Sources: Boston Globe, CNN, Curry College, Logan International Airport, McClatchy Newspapers, WCNC, Wikipedia, WSOC, Google Maps

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