Mother Says Teen In Stowaway Investigation Was Scared Of Heights

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None — The mother of the teenager police think stowed away in the wheel well of a U.S. Airways plane said she had no indication that he would ever attempt something like that.

Jonette Washington said her 16-year-old son, Delvonte Tisdale, was scared of heights and had never flown.

Despite that, police think Tisdale sneaked into a plane headed from Charlotte to Boston on Nov. 15. His mangled body was found in neighborhood in Milton, Mass., along the flight path for planes headed to Logan International Airport.

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Aviation grease was found on Tisdale's pants, and hand prints found in the wheel well of a plane that made the Charlotte-Boston flight on Nov. 15 are thought to be his, police said.

Washington said she's searching for answers through her grief.

"I just want to know: How did he get that close to the airplane without anybody noticing him?" she said. "How did he get into the airport undetected? Where was the security checking the planes? Don't they check the plane before takeoff or anything? Where were the people that were supposed to be on the ground checking the plane?"

It could be some time before Washington gets answers. A spokesperson for Norfolk, Mass., District Attorney William Keating told Eyewitness News that police identified airport surveillance videos they needed to see and reviewed several of them, but saw no signs of Tisdale. They also searched the computer and cell phone Tisdale had access to at his home and found nothing that led them to think he had planned to stow away on a plane.

Tisdale moved to Charlotte from Baltimore last year to live with his father, Washington said. She said she heard from friends that her son was unhappy living with his strict father and said she thinks he was trying to get to Baltimore the night he died.

"We noticed that he was trying to get to Baltimore because he said this to a couple people, that he wanted to come home," she said.

Washington said she now talks with her ex-husband every day to try to piece together what happened.

She added that she is trying to figure out whether Tisdale knew anyone who worked at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Several pilots have told Eyewitness News that they think Tisdale either entered the airport through its perimeter fence or sneaked in with ground personnel.

Washington is holding a memorial service for Tisdale on Friday in Baltimore. She received his ashes this week and said she plans to spread them over a body of water, because Tisdale wanted to become a Marine.

Previous Stories: December 13, 2010: Charlotte Leaders Respond To Airport Stowaway Investigation December 13, 2010: Airport Officials Cooperating With TSA In Tisdale Investigation December 11, 2010: McCrory On Stowaway Investigation: "This Is A Federal Problem" December 10, 2010: Commercial Pilot Describes How Teen May Have Sneaked Onto Plane December 7, 2010: Report: Aviation Grease Found On Pants Of Teen Found Dead Near Boston November 23, 2010: Police Look Into Possibility Teen Fell From Plane November 22, 2010: Students Mourn Teen Found Dead Near Boston November 19, 2010: Charlotte, Massachusetts Investigators Gather Clues At Missing Teen's Home