CLAYTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The parents of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl allegedly killed by two teenage brothers said their daughter was treated “like a piece of trash.”
Authorities found Autumn Pasquale’s body in a recycling bin Monday night after a 48-hour search in her hometown of Clayton.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since their daughter’s body was found, Jennifer Cornwell and Anthony Pasquale described their daughter as a good girl who was fun to be around.
“I would never have thought this would happen to us and she’s a good girl, she does everything right,” said Pasquale.
Cornwell said Autumn was “a tough cookie” who would want the family to be strong.
Pasquale said he knew the family of the boys arrested in the death.
“Everybody knows everybody,” in the town of 8,000, he said, “whether they’re friends or acquaintances.”
Authorities said Autumn, whose 13th birthday is Oct. 29, was last seen around 12:30 p.m. Saturday pedaling her white bicycle away from the Clayton home where she lives with her father, her two siblings, her father’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s children.
Relatives said they believed Autumn was heading to see a friend, and they became worried only after she did not return by her 8 p.m. curfew. It wasn’t until about 9:30 p.m. that she was reported missing.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said 50 county and local law enforcement officers were on the case shortly after she was reported missing. More than 20 law enforcement agencies took part in the search, as well as hundreds of volunteers.
Autumn’s body was found in a blue recycling bin in front of a house at around 10 p.m. Monday night. Her BMX bike and backpack were also found inside, CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported.
Autumn’s parents are now calling for a state investigation believing the search should have started sooner. “I felt like we were interviewed left and right, interviewed left and right instead of looking for my daughter,” Pasquale said.
Two brothers, who are 15 and 17, were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder. Their names were being withheld because they’re juveniles.
They also face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, disposing of a body, tampering with evidence and theft. The younger boy also was charged with luring.
Dalton said the 15-year-old 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. But he would not discuss a possible motive for the killing.
Dalton said the boys’ mother turned them in after noticing something on their Facebook page.
Joe Nicholas, who coordinated some of the volunteer search efforts, said a text message he saw led him to the boys’ home on Clayton avenue Monday afternoon.
Nicholas wouldn’t disclose what what was said, but told authorities he had the feeling along with other people that Autumn had been in that area, CBS 2′s Robin Rieger reported.
The brothers are expected in court on Friday.
Autumn will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Both parents visited the area on East Clayton Avenue Wednesday where friends and family are leaving teddy bears, candles and flowers.
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