Teen brothers charged in N.J. girl slaying

Oct. 23, 2012 at 8:55 PM
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CLAYTON, N.J., Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Teen brothers who lived on the same Clayton, N.J., block as Autumn Pasquale were charged Tuesday with strangling the 12-year-old, police said.

Authorities confirmed a body found Monday in a recycling container in Clayton was that of Autumn, who failed to return home after riding off on her BMX bike Saturday without saying where she was going, officials said.

The brothers, ages 15 and 17, allegedly wanted parts for a bike and lured Autumn to a home on Clayton Avenue, Philly.com reported.

Authorities did not name the boys, but schoolmates and others told Philly.com they are Justin Robinson, 15, and Dante Robinson, 17. They have been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposal of the body, theft and tampering with evidence. Justin also faces one count of luring.

Police gathered information on where to find Autumn's body after the suspects' mother contacted them about a posting on one of her son's Facebook page.

Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton called the girl's death a "tragic loss" and pledged a full investigation.

"We mourn the loss of a beautiful girl named Autumn," Dalton said. "We gather with the family to offer our support and condolences, and we give our thanks to the community of Clayton for coming together in support of this girl and 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 accountable," he said. "I also want to give my thanks to the residents of Clayton for their support during this tragic, tragic incident."

The girl's family gathered with Dalton at a news conference held at a local church to thank the scores of volunteers who helped in the search.

The family notified police when Autumn failed to return home after her curfew, police said. She was last seen at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and a frantic 48-hour search began in the tight-knit New Jersey town.

Carmen Batemen, 42, a nurse's aide who lives near the Pasquale family, said the incident shocked everyone in town.

"This is a small town," Bateman said. "You don't expect anything to happen like this in Clayton."

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