As the community of Clayton, New Jersey mourns the loss of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale, there is also a sense of rage and disbelief. Two teenage brothers turned themselves in to authorities and have been charged with her death, police said yesterday.
A tip came in that the younger brother, age 15, had lured Autumn inside his home by talking about her beloved BMX bike, according to police. Once she was inside, he and his older brother, 17, killed the young girl. Sean Dalton, Gloucester County prosecutor, stated that Autumn had been strangled.
Thankfully there was no sign of sexual assault, but prosecutors will move to have the boys charged as adults for their crimes. They have both been formally charged with first-degree murder, body disposal, and tampering with evidence.
Right now they are being held at a detention facility until they go before a judge on Friday.
Autumn's body was discovered dumped in a recycling bin next to the boys' home, and her BMX bike and belongings were found inside the boys' home, Dalton confirmed. She went missing on Saturday and police, along with the Clayton community, gathered for an intense search that led to the grim discovery on Monday.
Family and friends are still reeling from the senseless violence that took Autumn's life. Parents have kept their children home from school, and even the mayor was reduced to tears during a press conference.
"There's evil everywhere, even in the small town of Clayton," Autumn's great-uncle Paul Spadofora said during a press conference.
"You hear about it in other places but never think it would happen in our little town," Mayor Thomas Bianco said as he gave a statement from the scene of the crime.
The teenage brothers are expected in court on Friday to learn where they will be held, and what prosecutors intend to do for their trial.