Autumn Pasquale Case Puts Parents On High Alert [POLL/AUDIO]
The alleged killers of 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale have been in custody since early Tuesday, but emotional damage from the tragedy lingers in the small Gloucester County community of Clayton.
Autumn Pasquale, who would have turned 13 next week, left home on her bike Saturday afternoon and never returned. Developments over the next couple of days led to the discovery of Pasquale's body and the arrests of two teenage brothers who were charged with the young girl's murder.
"You want to protect your kids more now," said Clayton resident Lloyd Collins, whose concerns were shared by several parents who spoke with Townsquare Media near the home of the suspects. Many expressed fear that their hometown wasn't as safe as they once believed.
Melissa Scott, a local mother of two young girls, said, "I usually let my kids just get off the bus and walk up the driveway, but not even that's going to happen anymore."
"Trust is lost," said Jenny Marsh, whose daughter shared church class with Pasquale. "It's just going to take a long time to feel safe again."
The murder allegedly took place just a few blocks from the young girl's home. Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton said the 15 year old suspect lured Pasquale into his house. Before noon Tuesday, investigators removed Pasquale's bike from inside the East Clayton Avenue residence.
Nearby resident Traci Farrell said, "It's very creepy and scary. It's very unsettling, knowing that I have child of my own."
When asked to address the concerned parents in the community, Dalton stated that Gloucester County is one of the safest counties in the state of new Jersey.
"The borough of Clayton is a safe community," he continued. "You're going to hold your children close, and you're going to take the necessary steps in order to protect your children, as you always have."