As the community continues to mourn the death of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale, the family of the teen brothers charged in her death, are speaking out for the first time.
17-year-old Dante Robinson and 15-year-old Justin Robinson were arrested for allegedly strangling Pasquale to death and disposing her body in a recycling bin behind their home.
Police believe the boys lured Autumn to their home, promising her parts for her BMX bike. During their investigation, Anita Saunders, the mother of the teens, contacted police regarding postings on the Facebook account of one of the suspects, according to officials.
Law enforcement used this and other evidence which led to the discovery of Autumn's body and ultimately the arrest of the teen boys.
The boys are charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposal of a body, tampering of evidence and theft. Justin is also charged with one count of luring. Both are currently in police custody.
On Tuesday, NBC10 spoke with the family of the teen suspects. They told us they're still trying to come to grips with the developments in the case and sent their condolences to Autumn's family.
“I just feel real bad for the 12-year-old girl,” said Crystal Washington, the suspects’ aunt. “I cried for her. It’s just a shame that it happened. I just feel real sorry for the family.”
“What were your thoughts when you heard they were arrested and charged?” asked NBC10’s Monique Braxton.
“Disbelief,” said Washington. “I couldn’t believe that something like that happened in my family. My heart just dropped. I still can’t get over what happened. It’s too close to home.”
NBC10 also spoke with the grandfather of the suspects who called his daughter Anita Saunders “heroic and strong” for turning her two sons in to police. NBC10 approached Saunders outside her home. She declined to comment however.
Justin and Dante Robinson will appear before a Juvenile court judge on Friday.