CLAYTON, N.J. - Two teenage brothers were charged Tuesday with murdering a 12-year-old girl who had been missing since the weekend, prompting a frantic search by her small hometown until her body was found stuffed into a home recycling bin.
The boys' mother played a part in cracking the case involving Autumn Pasquale, Gloucester County prosecutor Sean Dalton said at a news conference. She came forward with information about a posting on a son's Facebook account, leading police to the boys, Dalton said.
The girl appeared to have been strangled, he said. She had been riding her bicycle before she disappeared and was lured to the boys' house, where belongings including the bike were found, Dalton said.
Authorities did not discuss a motive. There were no signs of sexual assault, Dalton said.
The boys' names were not released because they are juveniles, but Dalton said his office is considering trying to have it transferred to adult court. The boys will have public defenders, but it wasn't clear yet who they were.
Both brothers were charged with counts including first-degree murder, body disposal and tampering with evidence. The 15-year-old was charged with luring.
Three teenage brothers live at the home where the body was found, said Na'eem Williams and Jodie Robinson, both 16. One of the teens in the home traded BMX bike parts, according to a young man, Corey Hewes, 19, who said he was among those who traded with him.
The house was a place where teens frequently hung out and had parties, some neighbors said.
Autumn's body was found around 10 p.m. Monday in the bin just blocks from her house and from Borough Hall, where thousands of people gathered earlier in the evening for a tearful candlelight vigil to pray for her safe return.
"The search for Autumn is over," Dalton said Tuesday. He called Clayton a safe community but said parents should continue to keep close watch on their children.
The girl's great-uncle, Paul Spadofora, thanked the community for its help in the search. The victim's parents did not attend.
"There's evil everywhere, even in the small town of Clayton," Spadofora said.