This undated photo released by the police shows missing Autumn Pasquale, 12, of Clayton, N.J..(Photo: AP)
CLAYTON, N.J. -- A body found in a recycling container has been
preliminarily identified as that of a missing 12-year-old southern New
Jersey girl, officials said Tuesday.
The Gloucester County
Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that the body found 10 p.m.
Monday in Clayton is believed to be that of Autumn Pasquale, who was
last seen on Saturday.
Officials did not say exactly where the
body was found. An autopsy to confirm the body's identity will be
conducted Tuesday morning by the Gloucester County Medical Examiner's
office, officials said.
Pasquale was reported missing from her
Clayton home at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, and had been the subject of a large
search over the last two days.
Investigators with the prosecutor's
office found the body shortly after an emotional candlelight vigil was
held for the girl in her hometown.
Bernie Weisenfeld, spokesman
for the Gloucester County Prosecutor's office, said Pasquale's family
was notified of the discovery.
"This is a very sad day for the
Pasquale family," Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said in a
statement. "Our hearts go out to the family and to all the residents of
Clayton who stood together in support of this young girl."
No other information was released, and officials continued their investigation through the night.
About 200 law enforcement officials and hundreds more volunteers had searched Monday for Pasquale.
had said Monday afternoon, 48 hours after anyone had heard from the
girl, that 75 people had been interviewed. At that time, investigators
didn't have any suspects or a sure sense of whether the quiet BMX biking
enthusiast had left on her own or was the victim of foul play.
the girl's parents flanking him while holding back tears at an
afternoon news conference, Dalton announced a $10,000 reward for
information leading authorities to the girl. The parents - Anthony
Pasquale and Jennifer Cornwell - did not speak at the news conference.
Both wept during the evening vigil.
Authorities said Autumn, whose
13th birthday is Oct. 29, was last seen around 12:30 p.m. Saturday
pedaling her white bicycle away from the Clayton home where she lives
with her father, her two siblings, her father's girlfriend and the
A friend, 11-year-old DeAnna
Edwards-McMillen, said Autumn was at her house Friday night and they
exchanged text messages on Saturday. She said she received the last one
at 1:22 p.m. and didn't believe it was intended for her. She said it
read, "don't be like that."
DeAnna said her friend was nice and
easy to be around. "She didn't hate people," she said in a tearful
interview with The Associated Press, "and people didn't hate her."
mother, Debi McMillen, said that Autumn was often at their house and
that she always went home before her 8 p.m. curfew.
The last known
communication was in a text message she sent around 2:30 p.m. Dalton
would not say who received the message or what it contained. But he said
that there was nothing alarming or unusual about it.
until about 9:30 p.m. that she was reported missing - 90 minutes past
her 8 p.m. curfew, said Paul Spadofora, a family spokesman, the uncle of
Autumn's father and the girl's godfather.
Dalton said 50 county and local law enforcement officers were on the case shortly after she was reported missing.
Monday, the number grew fourfold as FBI and state police got involved
in a search that has employed helicopters, horses, bloodhounds and
computer experts. The computer experts were charged with seeing if any
information about her whereabouts shows up on Facebook or elsewhere
Dalton said investigators accounted for all the registered
sex offenders in the area, interviewed them and were searching their
The weary crew of volunteers, meanwhile, was looking
in area malls, handing out fliers at intersections in Clayton's tiny
downtown and searching wherever they could.
Weisenfeld said the girl's bike had not been found. By the afternoon,
Dalton would not say whether it had been located.