By GEORGE MAST (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post
CLAYTON, N.J. -- Just a day after two teenage brothers were charged with killing a 12-year-old girl, whose body was found dumped in a recycling bin, her parents are questioning authorities' response, calling it slow, according to reports.
The state Attorney General's Office will review how the effort to find Autumn Pasquale was handled after the Clayton girl's grieving parents on Wednesday questioned protocols taken after they had reported her missing.
"We respect the parents' feelings and their need to know that everything possible was done for their daughter," Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a statement to the Courier-Post on Wednesday evening.
Chiesa added that his office had been in communication with Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton and that the agency would "get full details from (Dalton) regarding the law enforcement response to this tragedy."
"From the time Autumn Pasquale was reported missing by her family at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the law enforcement response was continuous and obvious throughout Clayton," Dalton said Wednesday.
He praised the prosecutor's office's investigative units and said they poured their hearts and souls into this investigation and worked around the clock to find Autumn.
"I am proud of what they did under such difficult circumstances," Dalton said. "This is a time to start the healing process and let the justice system move forward with this case."
But according to reports, Autumn's parents, Anthony Pasquale and Jennifer Cornwell, on Monday said they would have liked a quicker response and Cornwell indicated she wanted a state review.
Autumn was first reported missing around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, about nine hours after she left her High Street home to go bicycling in Scotland Run Park.
She was found dead, stuffed in a blue recycling container around 10 p.m. on Monday near the home of brothers Justin Robinson, 15, and Dante Robinson, 17.
Authorities said the brothers beat and strangled Autumn after she was lured to their home on the premise of buying bicycle parts.
According to accounts by the prosecutor's office, the initial missing person's report for Autumn sparked an immediate investigation from the Clayton Police Department and expanded on Sunday with the activation of a countywide Child Abduction Response Team.
On Sunday, some 40 officers were involved in the search, including members of the FBI and state police. A helicopter was used to search by air and bloodhounds were called in to search along a bike trail leading to Scotland Run Park.
By Monday morning, more than 100 law enforcement personnel from 18 agencies were involved in the case, according to the prosecutor's office.
Streams of volunteers also got involved over the weekend, culminating with some 200 people who converged on the quiet town Monday to canvass the area with fliers.
"Since 9:30 Saturday night, this has been an ongoing effort by law enforcement to find Autumn," Dalton said at a Monday afternoon press conference where a $10,000 award was announced in the case. "There haven't been any breaks, there haven't been any stops. It's been a continuous investigation."
While the search for Autumn involved state and federal agencies, a state police spokesman on Wednesday said the circumstances of the girl's disappearance did not meet the requirements for an Amber Alert.
According to information posted in the state police website, Amber Alerts must meet three requirements and are "intended to be issued when there is reason to believe that a child has been abducted and may be in danger of death or serious bodily injury."
The alerts, which are issued by the state police in partnership with state and federal authorities, must meet each of these three criteria:
That "there is reason to believe" a child under 18 "has been abducted," is in "danger of death or serious bodily injury" and that the alert "would assist in locating the child considering all relevant circumstances, including whether there is enough descriptive information available, and the amount of time that has elapsed since the child was last seen and was reported missing."
In Autumn's case, investigators did not have immediate information that she had been abducted, nor any descriptive information of a believed abductor.
However, it was a different scenario just outside Philadelphia on Monday when a 10-month-old girl was reported to be abducted during a homicide. The girl was gone when her 61-year-old grandmother was found slain inside a King of Prussia, Pa., apartment. An Amber Alert was issued almost immediately in that case.
While an Amber Alert was not issued in Autumn's case, a state police spokesman said the agency did issue multiple alerts to law enforcement, the public and media throughout the search process.