Were Autumn’s killers caught by Facebook? Mother of teen brothers ‘who strangled 12-year-old girl alerted cops after she saw victim’s name in message sent by son’
- Autumn Pasquale was last seen riding white BMX bicycle on Saturday
- Family confirmed the body was hers this morning after frantic two-day search
- Mother of two teenaged suspects Justin and Dante Robinson turned over evidence from one son’s Facebook page, police said
- Authorities said brothers lured her into house with promise of bike parts
- Autopsy revealed she was beaten and strangled
- Autumn’s backpack, bicycle and other evidence taken from teens’ home
PUBLISHED: 12:42 GMT, 24 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:01 GMT, 24 October 2012
The brothers accused of strangling Autumn Pasquale may have been implicated after they exchanged a chilling message on Facebook hours after she was murdered.
Justin, 15, and Dante Robinson, 17, are accused of killing the New Jersey 12-year-old for her BMX bike parts. Their mother turned them in after she allegedly saw a message Justin wrote to his older brother simply saying ‘Autumn’.
The boys have been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposing of a body, tampering with evidence and theft. Justin was also charged with luring.
Justin also wrote on his Facebook wall ‘Might be moving’, followed by a sad face and ‘liked’ the page set up to find her, despite allegedly knowing she was already dead.
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Brothers: Dante, 17, left, and Justin, 15, right, are accused of luring Autumn Pasquale to their home with the promise of bike parts and murdering her
Police believe the teens lured 12-year-old ‘tomboy’ Autumn Pasquale to their home on Saturday night under the pretense of trading bike parts and killed her.
An autopsy performed yesterday concluded she had died from ‘blunt force trauma, consistent with strangulation’. She was also beaten. There was no evidence of sexual assault.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said the boys may have wanted parts from Autumn’s bike. They turned themselves in on Tuesday.
- Teenage brothers ‘murdered New Jersey girl, 12, to steal bike parts, then stuffed her body in a recycling bin’ (and their MOTHER helped turn them in)
- Family confirm body found in recycling unit is 12-year-old girl who went missing on Saturday
- Frantic search for girl, 12, who disappeared while out riding her bike intensifies as parents offer $10k reward for information
Justin is a student at Clayton High School, while Dante is a student at Bankbridge Regional School in Gloucester County, a school for students with behavioral and developmental disabilities.
On Sunday night, while people from all over the area were searching for Autumn, Justin joined the 17,000 people on Facebook who liked the FIND AUTUMN PASQUALE page, according to Philly.com.
A break in the case came when the teens’ mother alerted investigators to a Facebook post on one of her son’s accounts, though it is not clear which son and what the post actually said.
After obtaining a warrant to search the teens’ home, authorities found some of Autumn’s belongings including the white BMX bike she was last seen riding when she left her West High Street home Saturday afternoon around 12:30pm.
The house was a place where teens frequently hung out and had parties, some neighbors said, and one of the brothers often bought and sold BMX bicycle parts.
According to Philly.com, family and friends were already leaving messages on Justin Robinson’s wall saying they loved him and asking him to pray for forgiveness.
The teen’s eldest brother Michael wrote: ‘I love you so much little brother.’
Some messages however, were not so supportive. Autumn’s older brother A.J wrote: ‘I know u won’t see this but I’m just letting u know that I am coming for [you] next time I see ur face or ur brother donte [sic] I’m kicking ur asses.’
It is unclear whether Dante had a Facebook or not.
Yesterday, an investigator wheeled a white, BMX-style bicycle from the Robinson house. Autumn’s uncle James Spadafora is said to have recognized it immediately and holding his mouth said: ‘Oh, my God, no. Oh, my God, that’s it.’
Investigators also took bicycle rims from the house.
Dalton said his office was ‘strongly considering’ waiving both teens to adult court.
Authorities found some of Autumn’s belongings in the teens’ house including the white BMX bike she was last seen riding when she left her West High Street home Saturday afternoon around 12:30pm
The boys themselves were in plain sight at points in the intense search for Autumn. Several people in town said they saw them both at the vigil held on Monday night in hopes that she would be found while allegedly knowing exactly where she was.
Joyce Fisher, who lives across the street from the boys, said: ‘We all thought that he was some creep luring children.’
Philip Wames, another neighbor, said he was conflicted. ‘It’s almost like a relief that it’s not some creepo,’ he said.
The boys are expected in court for a detention hearings Friday.
Autumn’s body was discovered on Monday night in a blue recycling bin. Tuesday was trash collection day, and many residents had dragged their trash cans and recycling bins to the curb the night before.
The covered recycling bins are collected by an automated truck that picks them up and dumps the contents into the back.
Police barricaded the block, and friends and neighbors came by to see.
Some mothers said they were keeping their kids out of school for the day.
Even before the body was found, students reported that Spirit Week had been canceled because of the sorrow.
One young man rode a bike up, sat on a porch of a home and cried, then biked away.
Clayton Mayor Thomas Bianco walked to the scene, cried, hugged a police officer and gave a brief statement to the gathered reporters.
‘You hear about it in other places but never think it would happen in our little town,’ he said.
Howard Kowgill, 60, who lives in town and, like many, knows members of Autumn’s family, said the discovery of the body changes the nature of the town.
Dalton said: ‘This is a very sad day for the Pasquale family. Our hearts go out to the family and to all the residents of Clayton who stood together in support of this young girl.’
About 200 law enforcement officials and hundreds more volunteers searched for Autumn after she was reported missing.
Her parents – Anthony Pasquale and Jennifer Cornwell – did not speak at the news conference. Both wept during the evening vigil.
Mystery: The body of Autumn Pasquale, 12, was found in a recycling container on Monday; two teenagers were arrested in conjunction with her death today
Community in shock: A young girl reacts to the news Autumn’s body was found and an unidentified male breaks down in grief, right, as word spread around Clayton
Coming together: Residents of Clayton take part in a candlelight vigil for Autumn on Monday night, shortly before it was announced that her body had been found
Autumn, whose 13th birthday would have been next Monday, was last seen around 12.30pm on 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.
A friend, DeAnna Edwards-McMillen, 11, said Autumn was at her house on Friday night and they exchanged text messages on Saturday.
She said she received the last one at 1.22pm and didn’t believe it was intended for her. She said it read, ‘don’t be like that’.
DeAnna said her friend was nice and easy to be around: ‘She didn’t hate people and people didn’t hate her.’ DeAnna’s mother, Debi McMillen, said that Autumn was often at their house and that she always went home before her 8pm curfew.
The last known communication was in a text message she sent at around 2.30pm.
Mr Dalton would not say who received the message or what it contained, but he added that there was nothing alarming or unusual about it.
It wasn’t until about 9.30pm that she was reported missing – 90 minutes past her 8pm curfew, said Paul Spadofora, a family spokesman, the uncle of Autumn’s father and the girl’s godfather.
Frantic search: Autumn was reported missing from her Clayton home on Saturday evening; she had last been seen leaving the house that afternoon on her BMX bicycle
TRAGIC TIMELINE OF AUTUMN’S DISAPPEARANCE
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20: Autumn Pasquale, who was a week away from her 13th birthday, was last seen riding her BMX bicycle, leaving her home in Clayton, New Jersey.
Authorities – from the Gloucester County police to the FBI – joined the search. Her father, Tony Pasquale, told NBC News at the time that the disappearance was ‘not like her.’
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21: Hundreds of people gathered at a local church to hand out flyers and form search parties for the freckled blonde.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 22: Hundreds more join search efforts for Autumn, spanning into Delaware and New York, according to NBC Philadelphia.
After sunset, worried friends and family held a candlelit vigil to pray for her safe return. Not long after the vigil ended, authorities said that they discovered her 5ft2in body dumped in a recycling container five blocks from her home.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23: A press conference was held in the afternoon to say that two brothers, aged 15 and 17, had been arrested for Autumn’s murder.
Authorities also said that the brother’s mother, spotting a suspicious post on Facebook, turned them into police.
View more videos at: http://nbcphiladelphia.com.