SEARCHERS returned from the forests and fields in and around Clayton, N.J., Sunday night, their voices hoarse from calling out the name of missing Autumn Pasquale, and those who loved her the most huddled close together, holding fast to hope.
Meanwhile, at 8:16 p.m., a 15-year-old Clayton boy logged onto Facebook and, along with nearly 17,000 other people across the country, clicked "Like" on the FIND AUTUMN PASQUALE page.
But authorities say Justin Robinson knew exactly where Pasquale was because he allegedly lured her to his home on East Clayton Avenue on Saturday afternoon and then beat and strangled the seventh-grader with the help of his brother, Dante Robinson, 17, before they stuffed her into a blue recycling container.
Tuesday's revelation that Pasquale's alleged murderers were Clayton residents - teens who lived just a few blocks from Pasquale - made it all the more heartbreaking for residents. Thousands of fliers were handed out, plastered in windows and on telephone poles, even out by the fall foliage along Wilson Lake. On Monday night, just hours before a searcher found Pasquale inside the container by the curb next door to the Robinson home, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil, softly singing "Amazing Grace" as Autumn's father, Anthony, sobbed.
"Obviously, the borough of Clayton today has been rocked," Police Chief Dennis Marchei said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in Clayton.
Both brothers were charged Tuesday with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposal of the body, theft and tampering with evidence. Justin Robinson also was charged with luring, authorities said, because he allegedly had asked Pasquale to come to the house under the pretense of trading bicycle parts.
Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said there was no evidence that Pasquale had been sexually assaulted.
A break in the case came when the boys' mother alerted investigators to a Facebook post on one of her sons' accounts, Dalton said. He declined to say what the post was, or which suspect had made it. It was unclear Tuesday whether Dante Robinson had a Facebook page, and his brother's posts didn't appear to mention anything alarming in recent days.
"Might be moving," Justin wrote Sunday, adding a sad-face emoticon to the message.
On Tuesday, family and friends were posting on Justin Robinson's wall, saying they loved him and were thinking of him. Some asked him to pray for forgiveness.
"I love you so much little brother," the boys' older brother, Michael, wrote to Justin.
Autumn Pasquale also had an older brother, and he vented frustration on Justin Robinson's Facebook page not long after the news conference.
"I know u won't see this but I'm just letting u know that I am coming for [you] next time I see ur face or ur brother donte I'm kicking ur asses," A.J. Pasquale wrote on Justin Robinson's wall. Justin had also commented on the search on A.J.'s page while it was still in progress.
All morning, people gathered behind the police tape that surrounded the small, cream-colored Cape Cod where the Robinson brothers lived. Neighbors said that police often had been called to the house and that the boys were known for stealing bicycles.
"They just take bikes and take them apart," said Clayton High School student Jodie Robinson, who is unrelated but friendly with the family.
A family member of Autumn Pasquale's who asked not to be identified said complaints had been made to police as recently as Saturday that stolen bikes were at the boys' house. Dalton declined to comment on bike thefts in the neighborhood.
A source familiar with the Pasquale family said that Autumn, a BMX bike enthusiast, brought bicycle rims to the Robinson home on Saturday. Back in August, Autumn "liked" a picture of a BMX bike on Justin's Facebook page.
Shortly after 11 a.m., an investigator wheeled from the house a white, BMX-style bicycle, the same bike Pasquale was last seen on. A group of onlookers gasped. James Spadafora, Pasquale's uncle, arrived minutes later, asking investigators if he could see the bike. He recognized it immediately when he looked at a picture on this reporter's cellphone.
"Oh, my God, no . . . ," he said, holding his mouth. "Oh, my God, that's it."
Investigators also took bicycle rims from the house.
It was not immediately clear who else lived at the Robinson home. Some neighbors said the boys' mother had moved out, but others said she still lived there and ran a hair salon in the basement. Justin Robinson was a sophomore at Clayton High School; Dante, neighbors said, attended the Bankbridge Developmental Center in nearby Sewell.
Dalton said his office was "strongly considering" waiving both teens to adult court.
When a reporter asked Dalton whether racial tension could arise as a result of the killing of a white girl by two black teens, he urged Clayton to buckle down and show its mettle.
"We will not turn on each other," Dalton said. "We came together as a community; we'll continue to come together."