Two teenage brothers were arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Autumn Pasquale, the 12-year-old-girl found dead Monday in Clayton, New Jersey, according to authorities.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said on Tuesday that the younger brother had also been charged with one count of luring.
“The brothers are aged 15 and 17 years old, and both are in police custody at the present time.”
When police searched the site early Tuesday, her BMX bike was found among other things. Prosecutors believe Autumn was lured to the boys’ home, where they murdered her for her bike.
Autumn’s body was found in a recycling container. Dalton said she was strangled and died from blunt-force trauma, but based on preliminary findings, there were no signs of sexual assault.
The suspects’ mother who contacted police because of Facebook postings, according to Dalton aided the police investigation.
On Tuesday, the young suspects turned themselves in, accompanied by their attorneys. “We’re strongly considering waiving them to adult court. However, we want to let the process take its part,” Dalton said.
A Facebook page was created after Autumn went missing Saturday, and many neighbors and friends donated their time to help 200 law enforcement members search for her. According to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, she was last seen riding her bike from her home.
Neighbor Joyce Fisher described to CNN how she felt after volunteering and handing out fliers for the search effort, only to find out that those accused live just across the street.
“I’m exhausted,” she said, and was especially unnerved when she saw investigators bring the girl’s bike out of the suspects’ house.
“Scared … devastating … unnerving. Nice quiet town. We know everybody’s move around here. We never had any issues like this,” she said. “Everything is shattered.”
“At this point, we have to put our anger aside,” Dalton said. “We have to let justice take its course and through the support of all the caring families in Clayton, with the support of the law enforcement community. … We’ll get past this, because we are strong.”
If she was still alive, Pasquale would have turned 13 next week.