Autumn Pasquale, 12, was found in a recycling bin this week in Clayton, New Jersey after she was reported missing on Saturday evening. Just 24 hours after her body was discovered, police took two teenage boys–brothers–into custody for her murder.
The boys, 15 and 17–whose names have not been released because they are underage–are charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, tampering with evidence, theft, and disposing of a body. The younger boy is also charged with luring, as he allegedly got Autumn to come into his house, where the murder took place. Police say the marks on her body indicate she was strangled; no sexual assault is suspected. The motive is shocking: the boys are said to have wanted her beloved BMX bike, which she was riding at the time.
Pasquale’s body was found not long after an exhaustive search of the area by a party of volunteers turned up nothing; a tip from the boy’s mother, who said she saw something suspicious on her sons’ Facebook pages, led police to her door.
“Everyone who’s been involved from the start has a right to know what happened. We’re going to find that out. But I think today we need to remember a young girl, and law enforcement will continue to do it’s job so we can get the answers we’re all looking for,” said prosecutor Sean Dalton.
Dalton said they are considering taking the boys to adult court, regardless of their ages.
“Today we mourn the loss of a young girl … whose life was cut short before it really began. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her parents, her family. It is my hope that the arrests today provide a measure of closure, that the individuals responsible for their daughter’s death will be held responsible,” he said.