Source: Investigators strongly believe NC teen fell from plane

Delvonte Tisdale (Source:
Delvonte Tisdale (Source:
Note found on mutilated body (Source:
Note found on mutilated body (Source:
A man removes the body found near Boston earlier this week (Source: WBZ)
A man removes the body found near Boston earlier this week (Source: WBZ)
Delvonte Tisdale in JROTC uniform
Delvonte Tisdale in JROTC uniform

By  Derrick Rose bio | email | Twitter  & Tom Roussey - bio l email & WBTV Staff

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV/WBZ) - A source says investigators now strongly believe a Charlotte teenager snuck into the wheel well of a plane in Charlotte and then fell to his death as the plane approached Boston.

16-year old North Meck High student Delvonte Tisdale was found dead in Milton, Massachusetts, in mid-November.

Two weeks ago, it was revealed police were investigating the possibility Tisdale, 16, may have snuck onto a plane through a wheel well and fell to his death Nov. 15 during a flight to Boston's Logan Airport.

A source tells WBTV that investigators from Massachusetts were in town late last week and went to Charlotte Douglas Airport.  They wanted to see if aviation grease from a plane that flew to Boston the day Tisdale died matches grease found on Tisdale's jeans in Massachusetts.

Delvonte Tisdale's body was found about 24 hours after he went missing from the Charlotte area -- all the way up in Milton, which is a suburb southwest of Boston that is over 800 miles from Charlotte.

Sources say investigators think Tisdale could have climbed a fence that surrounds Charlotte Douglas Airport and somehow got to a plane without being caught.

Officials with Charlotte Douglas Airport haven't commented on the possible security breach.

Airport director Jerry Orr said the same number of flights leave Charlotte to Boston or Baltimore, where Tisdale has ties, everyday. WBTV found 13 flight heading to Boston daily; 3 by Jet Blue and 10 on U.S. Airways. There are 11 daily flights to Baltimore; 9 on U.S. Airways and 2 on Airtran.

WBTV sister station WBZ in Boston reported that planes headed to Logan fly over Milton if they are headed to runway 4R at Logan.

WBZ reports that four planes from North Carolina used that runway to land on Monday, November 15th, the day Delvonte's remains were found.

Several folks close to the investigation found the airplane theory hard to believe.  One longtime pilot says planes don't usually drop their landing gear until they are 3 miles from an airport runway, but where Tisdale's remains were found is 7 miles away.

Anthony Tisdale, Delvonte's father, said at a November 23rd press conference that he had no idea how his son got to Massachusetts nor did he know of his son having any friends in that state.

A family friend added that the family does not have any relatives in Massachusetts.

Anthony Tisdale says his son was born in Baltimore and lived there for about 13 years, but that he loved the Charlotte area and had made many friends in a short period of time.

The senior Tisdale said Delvonte loved the Air Force ROTC program at North Mecklenburg High School.

"That's why we came to Charlotte," he said.

Several times during a news conference on Nov. 23, Anthony Tisdale wiped tears while speaking of his late son. "This will be the first Thanksgiving that we have to contemplate what to do.  It's very difficult for us," he said.

"I loved him very much," Tisdale's grandmother told reporters.

Police in Boston, along with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, are asking for information that can help solve the case.

Anthony Tisdale reported on Nov. 15 that Delvonte went missing late on the night of Nov. 14.  Less than 24 hours after he disappeared, his remains were discovered. The time between when someone last reported seeing Tisdale alive and the discovery is very short,  considering the cities are about 840 miles apart.

The airplane theory could potentially explain how Tisdale wound up in Massachusetts so quickly, and could also potentially explain why his remains were so badly mutilated.

Related: Missing persons report from CMPD (pdf document)

According to a CMPD report, Tisdale was last seen in Charlotte at 11:30 p.m. on November 14th.  His remains were found in Boston around 9:30 p.m. the next night -- just 22 hours later.

If Tisdale got there by car, Milton is a roughly 16-hour drive from Charlotte.

Police found a note on the body which appears to be a school "hall pass" with the "Delvonte Tisdale A Lunch" written on it, along with a signature and the date 10/19/2010.

Massachusetts detectives and detectives from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department matched Tisdale's fingerprints to a personal item of his to make a positive identification of the teen's body.

Tisdale, who celebrated his 16th birth day on November 8, joined the Air Force ROTC at North Meck High when he began attending the school in August.

Maj. Mark Miller leads the ROTC at North Mecklenburg High School and said Tisdale was very dedicated to the program, at times spending up to 20 hours a week doing things for it.

"He aimed to please, and it didn't matter who was standing there," said Miller.  "He was just a good kid."

Neighbor Carol Brinson lives across the street from the Tisdale home and said Delvonte would volunteer to help her take her garbage out.

"He would always stop by and talk, he wouldn't just wave," Brinson said.  "But he was soft-spoken and sweet and well-mannered; always out in the yard, helping his dad."

An autopsy was not able to reveal how the teen was killed. Because his body suffered "massive trauma" the autopsy was inconclusive -- meaning Tisdale could have been murdered but also could have died for other reasons.

People living in the Massachusetts community where Tisdale's body was found said the remains were scattered over several properties.

"I have no idea what to make of that," said Anthony Tisdale when asked at the press conference about the possibility of his son falling from a plane.

Tisdale's father Anthony spoke publicly for the first time Nov. 23.  He was joined by Delvonte's grandmother and Pastor James Woodson of St. James Home of Fresh Start Church in Greensboro, which is where the family lived before moving to Charlotte this past summer.

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