NBC10.com - Ted Greenberg
A year after her death, friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of Autumn Paaquale.
Mary Pasquale remembers when she used to spend countless hours at Little Ease Park in Clayton, New Jersey with her granddaughter Autumn. Mary wanted Autumn to always have fond memories of her. She never imagined however that she would be the one who would have to remember her granddaughter.
“Never, ever did I ever think that those memories would be my memories,” Mary Pasquale said. “It shouldn’t be that way.”
On Sunday, Mary and other loved ones gathered at that same park, now called Autumn Pasquale Memorial Park, to celebrate the young girl’s life.
It was exactly one year ago today when 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale disappeared from her home. Police say Autumn was riding her bike to a friend's house when Justin Robinson and his older brother Dante Robinson lured the girl into their home with the promise of trading bike parts.
Two days after she disappeared, Autumn's body was found in a recycling bin near the boys' home.
Both brothers were charged with murder.
Justin, now 16, is currently serving a 17-year sentence after reaching an adult plea deal last month on a lesser charge in which he confessed that he alone strangled Autumn. That cleared the way for Dante Robinson, now 18, to be released.
While the young girl’s murder still angers and saddens the community, they spent Sunday morning remembering the joy Autumn brought to everyone around her.
“Today, let’s not remember the sadness but let’s remember her life,” said Autumn’s father, Anthony Pasquale. “Her carefree, innocent spirit and the joy that she brought to our lives. As you look at every child that enjoys their time here, you will see Autumn’s free spirit glow on each of their faces.”
A run and community vigil for Autumn will be held later this month. A fundraising drive is also underway to help build a pavilion at the park in memory of Autumn.