Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett identified the suspect arrested in connection with Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino's death as Mathew Borges, a 16-year-old Lawrence resident.
According to the police's statements, the boy was declared missing by his family back in November.
Paulino said the family did not know Borges and did not consider him to be a close friend of her son.
"We had people in nearly every state looking for him", his mother, Katiuska Paulino, said.
The grisly find was made by a dog walker about 2:40 p.m. Thursday.
Arial footage showed two teams of detectives working in separate spots along the Merrimack River on Thursday and Viloria-Paulino's relatives were on the scene.
"The family is devastated. I hope that's not my son", Carlos Viloria said.
The family said police treated the disappearance as a runaway case despite the family saying it was not. As the vigil was going on, there were also 50 or more people who went to Viloria-Paulino's residence to offer food and their condolences. "He's a good boy, goes to school every day, he does his homework, he doesn't even go out of the house".
15-year-old Mathew Borges pleads not guilty in decapitation of classmate
"I wasn't his closest friend", said Armany Mendoza, also a sophomore.
"This is obviously shocking and disconcerting news". "Nobody deserves this. It's awful to think about, to even remotely think about".
The teen's death shook the Lawrence community.
"This tore the city apart", Rivera said.
"I live here. I work here". "And from very early on, who they have in custody now, we knew that he had left with my son and that his story did not make sense".
Authorities have not said why Mathew allegedly killed and then decapitated the teen, though police claim Mathew confessed afterward. He has been looking for him as well.
In addition, the woman declared that the reason why the police chose to ignore the report is that the boy was of Hispanic descent and that he probably run away from home.
"(He) was a lovely kid that had done nothing bad to no one", his mother, Ivelisse Cornielle said. "I would encourage him to come to the scene and ensure that all is going as he is intending".
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