Autumn Pasquale (personal photo)
CLAYTON, N.J. - The two teenage brothers accused of killing 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale appeared to have left a trail of evidence around their house and on the Internet. This made it easy for investigators to focus on them once their own mother tipped off authorities.
Pasquale disappeared Saturday while riding her bike through the New Jersey town where she and the boys lived. Investigators found her body Monday night stuffed into a recycling bin behind a vacant house next to the one where the boys lived with their family. When crime scene investigators went through the family's home, they found the girl's bike, backpack and other belongings.
They were led there by a tip from the boys' mother, who prosecutors said was so concerned by a Facebook posting one of them made that she called police. The posting appeared not to be publicly available and authorities would not reveal what it said.
Authorities have not released the names of the brothers, who are 15 and 17 years old, because they're charged as juveniles. But Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said it's likely he'll ask that their case be moved to adult court.
Both turned themselves in Tuesday and were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposing of a body, tampering with evidence and theft. The younger boy is also charged with luring. Dalton said he persuaded the biking-obsessed Autumn to come to his home so they could trade BMX bike parts, and that the brothers stole her prized bike.
The arrests brought to an end a grueling and emotional chapter in a horror for a rural town of 8,000 about 25 miles south of Philadelphia.
"I know a lot of you are angry over what has happened, and deservedly you have a right to be angry," Dalton said at day's end. "I hope today there is some measure of closure, and we can all mourn in the loss of this beautiful child."
More than 600 residents gathered at Clayton Baptist Church for an hour-long healing service on Tuesday night. Hundreds of volunteers - many from the town - joined the search for Autumn after she was reported missing.
The boys are expected in court for a detention hearings Friday.