Teen's body found by cellar door

February 29, 2008 7:12:22 AM PST
There is much mystery surrounding the body of a 17-year old found after a snowstorm. Authorities say it appears he had been trying to exit a cellar hatch door when he became trapped. The teen lives in Monticello in Sullivan County, but his body was found in nearby Liberty. His family and friends have no idea why he was there.

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis has the story.

Dozens of solemn-faced friends and teachers have gathered at the scene for a candlelight vigil for the victim. He was a teenager who died under the most mysterious of circumstances.

A memorial now sits in the snow, just a few feet from where the mysterious discovery was made Wednesday. Two kids, who were shoveling out the house, found the body of Reggie Rios Costello.

The 17-year-old was pinned by a cellar door, with only his hands and head exposed.

It is not known why the teen was in the basement, why he tried to get out via a hatch that was padlocked from the outside and weighed down by snow, or why he was in Liberty in the first place.

"Friendly kid," friend Michelle Pader. "Not into no problems. Not into no trouble. I don't know how this happened."

The teen is described as a good student and devout Muslim who was raised by his Pakistani stepfather, Abdul Wadood.

He was a fixture at the fast food restaurant owned by Wadood, who says at some point early Tuesday morning, Rios Costello took his car keys and snuck out of the house.

"He never, ever take the keys without asking," Wadood said. "He took the key and he went and he never came back."

"He was always happy," friend James Wilks said. "He was motivating. He had a determination that he wanted to do something with his life. He was really focused."

As police continue their investigation, friends gathered at the restaurant, still uncertain why Rios Costello would drive 14 miles in a snowstorm in the middle of the night. For now, there are only rumors and speculation.

"He was working with his dad," friend Mark Branch said. "Maybe they figured he had money on him."

"Out of all the people in this world, Reggie is not a troublemaker," Pader said. "He had a 3.9 average in school. He's the smartest kid I know."