MILTON (CBS) — Following an extensive search in Milton Friday in which authorities recovered a pair of sneakers and a shirt, the Norfolk District Attorney says a teenager likely fell from a plane’s wheel well to his death.

16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale’s mangled body was found in Milton on November 15.

It took days to identify Tisdale, who was from Charlotte, NC, but finally a lunch pass in the teen’s pocket was able to provide the clues needed to ID the body.

The theory authorities say they are now working on is that Tisdale had been in the wheel well of a plane headed from Charlotte, NC to Logan Airport.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.

District Attorney William Keating outlined the timeline of apparent events during a news conference Friday afternoon. He said Tisdale was last seen at 1 a.m. November 15 by a sibling at his home in North Carolina. At 6 a.m., when the family started to wake, they noticed he was not in the home.

map DA: Teenager Likely Fell From Plane, Landed In Milton

In a map released by District Attorney William Keating, the red dots indicate the flight path of a commercial plane flying from Charlotte, NC to Boston. The green dots are where police found sneakers. And the address is where Delvonte Tisdale's body was found. (credit: CBS)

Keating went on to say that a plane departing Charlotte and headed to Boston left North Carolina at 7 p.m. and was due to arrive at 8:55 p.m. It was at 9:30 p.m. that a group of college students found Tisdale’s body, which only had on grease-stained pants. Keating added that neighbors heard a loud crashing sound a short time before the discovery.

The area searched Friday was near Brierbrook Street and within the flight path of a plane flying from Charlotte, NC to Boston.

Thursday the State Police Air Wing flew over the flight path. Tisdale’s body was found within 20 feet of the flight path.

Keating said detectives went to North Carolina to do tests on planes that may have been involved in the incident. Forensic evidence found in the left wheel well of the plane includes “handprints visible and greasy areas and scuff marks in an area that accommodated a person,” said Keating. 

Tisdale was a ROTC student. Authorities say they do not know why he would have been in the plane’s wheel well.

“It appears more likely than not that Mr. Tisdale was able to breach airport security and hide in the wheel well of a commercial jetliner without being detected by airport security personnel,” said Keating. “These events have obvious safety ramifications.”

WBZ News Radio’s Lana Jones reports.

According to Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella, Massport head Tom Kinton asked employees to look into what planes may have been flying over the area the night Tisdale was found.

Keating, who was elected to Congress in November and will be headed to D.C. next month, said that with all of the attention paid to security for passengers to get onto planes, the findings in this case are “alarming.”

“When we do an investigation to determine the cause of death, and it leads us to information that creates such a great concern for air security and public safety, we’re compelled to share that,” he said. “If that was someone with a different motive, if that was a terrorist, that could be a bomb that’s planted on there undetected.”

The TSA said, “TSA 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.”

According to the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, WBTV, airport officials there have not been in contact with investigators in Massachusetts. Haley Genrty, the Public Affairs Manager at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, added, “We now expect that the information released today will trigger a local investigation involving Charlotte Douglas, the TSA and the FAA.”

How Tisdale managed to become a stowaway or why he wanted to come to Boston remains unclear. Whether he even survived the flight is also unclear, but Keating says there was evidence of freezing in the wheel well.  He hoped both the airport, and the TSA would conduct an investigation.

WBZ-TV’s Jonathan Elias talks with travelers about security.

Comments (12)
  1. cynic says:

    If he was in the wheelwell of the plane and he if he was carrying anyhing….(Bag etc) It makesa sense that it may have fallen at the same time as he did and might be in the area.

  2. James says:

    Please explain to me how a man gets into the wheel of a plane at a secure airport? He just walked onto the airfield and climbed into the wheel? That’s the real mystery!

  3. Taxdollars says:

    TSA is searching old ladys at airports and this kid walks onto an airfield into a plane?

    1. shotime says:

      Makes you feel real safe now, doesn’t it?

  4. Dave_D says:

    Let me get this straight. A kid with an intelligence level that literally got him dropped from the human gene pool was able to evade security at a major US airport and get to a passenger jet. This should make the clowns at Homeland Security very proud!

  5. Ellen says:

    I feel so sorry for this kid. Hey we all did stupid things when we were young. But I also would love to know where was airport security on this one.

  6. cynic says:

    Ellen….It seems that it might be easier to X-Ray little old ladies that aren’t doing anything.

  7. George L. says:

    The TSA is the worse joke ever pulled on the American taxpayer and a very expensive one at that. Throw all the bums out and give it to the military, they couldn’t be any worse at it.

    After that, review Homeland Security and rebuild that too!
    What an expensive, political disgusting joke.

  8. Airpilot says:

    The non-pressurized wheel well of a commercial jet at altitude is a sub-freezing place wit out sufficient oxygen to breathe – I suspect this lad was dead at altitude, long before the pilot lowered the landing gear…

    This lad, like many at his age, was mis-guided and mis-informed. The security people who could have prevented this tragedy were not – they were criminally incompetent, a condition we’re seeing much more of these days. A real shame that so many authorities can’t do their jobs with any reasonable degree of competence any more. No wonder no-one with any sense trusts government anymore – it just doesn’t deserve our trust.

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