In the aftermath of the death of their daughter, the parents of Autumn Pasquale are speaking out and questioning the police response to the initial report she had gone missing.
Autumn went missing on Saturday after telling her parents she was headed over to a friend’s house. After a massive search effort, her body was found Monday around 10:30 p.m., just five blocks from her home in a recycling container outside a property on the 300 block of E. Clayton Street.
During a press conference on Autumn’s death Tuesday afternoon, officials announced two teenage brothers, Justin Robinson, 15, and Dante Robinson, 17, were arrested and charged with Autumn’s death.
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Autumn’s parents spoke to NBC10 about their loss and the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community.
“It touches everyone and I know they feel for us,” said Anthony Pasquale, Autumn’s father. “You cannot imagine the way we feel right now. We don't wish this on anybody.”
Police say the teen brothers lured Autumn to their home over parts for her BMX bicycle before strangling her.
“I want them to get tried as adults,” said Jennifer Cornwell, Autumn’s mother. “They need to pay for what they did to my daughter.”
While they’re grateful for the efforts of the police department, they also say there seemed to be a lag time in the investigation.
“We’re thankful that we’ve caught the people that did this to our daughter,” said Cornwell. “However when we first reported her missing it just seemed like a very slow process for a 12-year-old to be gone this long and nobody out there viciously looking for her.”
The parents are asking New Jersey’s Attorney General to make sure everything was done to find their daughter.
“We would like to have somebody sit down to investigate and look to make sure that all the proper channels were taken," said Cornwell.
NBC10 questioned police about why an amber alert wasn't initially issued when Autumn was reported missing. According to New Jersey State Police, the situation did not meet all of the criteria outlined by the justice department. Here is the following criteria for an amber alert:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred
- Belief that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death
- Enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child
- The abduction is of a child age 17 years or younger
Amber alerts are activated by state police in any state, which then prompts the signs you see on roads and the alerts on TV and radio. An NJ State Police spokesperson told NBC10 the alerts are highly effective in part because they are "carefully guarded."
The spokesperson also told NBC10 there are as many as 18,000 missing people in New Jersey ever year with 85% of those people being runaways. Officials say that in Autumn's case, the facts as they were initially known didn't meet the criteria needed for an amber alert and there was no immediate indication of an abduction.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton also made the following statement in a press release:
The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office's investigative units poured their hearts and souls into this investigation and worked around the clock to find Autumn. I'm very proud of what they did under such difficult circumstances. This is a time to start the healing process and let the justice system move forward with this case.