Speaking publicly for the first time, the father of a 16-year-old boy from North Carolina said he last saw his son less than 24 hours before he was found dead in Milton, when they had pizza and his son was playing video games.
The next day, on Nov. 15, authorities found the body of Delvonte Tisdale beside a street in an upscale section of the Boston suburb.
At a news conference this afternoon outside the family's home in Charlotte, Anthony Tisdale, the father, told reporters he said good night to his son at about 10 p.m. "I said, ‘Hey, man. Good night,’” he said. "And that was the last time I saw my son."
He said he didn’t know why his son would leave their home in Charlotte.
"I have no idea," Tisdale said when asked how his son got to Massachusetts.
He said his son had not missed a day of school since the family moved to Charlotte a few months ago and he became a sophomore at North Mecklenburg High School.
"My son was a hardworking man," said Tisdale, wiping away tears. "He didn’t frequent the streets. He didn’t listen to a lot of out-of-the-way music. He played video games, and spent time with the family. We did projects around the house. And, you know, he loved the ROTC."
The family moved recently from Greensboro, and Tisdale said his son was adjusting well to life in a new city.
"Our son was ecstatic with Charlotte," he said. “He loved Charlotte. He loved the area. He loved his high school. His friends were great. He was really able to associate himself with a lot of good folks at North Mecklenburg High, and with the ROTC group. It became part of who he was at North Mecklenburg, and Charlotte was a great city for him.”
The family's pastor, James Woodson of St. James Home of Fresh Start in Greensboro, said it was hard for anyone to know for certain what the boy was thinking or why he left home.
"Kids have got secrets," he said. "At that age, you don’t know. We assume by his practices, by his habits, that he was satisfied with being in Charlotte."
The elder Tisdale said the family is hoping investigators can solve the mystery of his son's death.
“That’s something we’re trying to let the investigators handle at this point, because we just don’t know,” Tisdale said. “We aren’t detectives; we are family, and we just did the best that we could do to make sure that they could complete their jobs.”
Tisdale, who was also joined at the press conference by his mother, Delvonte's grandmother, Lula Smith, said the family is in mourning and making plans for a funeral.
“This will be the first Thanksgiving that we’ve had to contemplate what to do, so it’s very difficult for us and for my family trying to [bring] everybody together, and really what we have to do try to mend our family,” Tisdale said. “It’s a hard loss for us. It’s a difficult thing for us to accept because I still can’t believe my son is not with us.”
Tisdale said the family moved to Charlotte "for better opportunities for us as a family." He described the move as a "win-win for everybody."
“That’s part of the reason why we came here to Charlotte because Mecklenburg High offered the ROTC program here, and it was a good spot for everybody,” he said. “But you know, being here such a short time and losing my son, is extremely difficult.”
Last week, however, relatives said Tisdale had a contentious relationship with his father and may have run away to be with his extended family in Baltimore. They said he had run away several times before and think he may have hitched a ride with someone bound for the Boston area.
Tisdale’s father said he had idea what to make of the theory that his son may have fallen from the wheel well of an airplane, an idea that a Massport spokesman called a "remote possibility.''
(John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.)
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