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Teen brothers charged with death of 12-year-old New Jersey girl

By Dave Warner

(Reuters) - Two teenage brothers face murder charges for strangling a 12-year-old New Jersey girl after luring her to their house with an offer of parts for her bicycle, authorities said on Tuesday, a day after her body was found in a recycling bin near her home.

The girl, Autumn Pasquale, was last seen alive on Saturday riding her bicycle in Clayton, the town of 8,100 where she lived. Her body was discovered on Monday in a curbside bin about four blocks from her home, a spokesman for Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said.

The teens, ages 17 and 15, whose names were not publicly disclosed, lived on the same block where the body was found, according to the spokesman, Bernie Weisenfeld.

The boys were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, disposing of a body, tampering with evidence and theft. It has not yet been decided whether they will be charged as adults, according to Weisenfeld.

The county medical examiner determined that 12-year-old Pasquale died of blunt force trauma consistent with strangulation, and there was no sign of sexual assault, according to the prosecutor's office.

The boys' mother contacted authorities regarding postings by one of the boys on Facebook, and a search of the boys' home turned up the girl's bicycle and other personal belongings, Dalton said.

"Today we mourn the loss of a young girl named Autumn Pasquale, whose life was tragically cut short before it really began," Dalton told a news conference.

"It's my hope that the arrests today provide a measure of closure that the individuals responsible for their daughter's death will be held accountable," he added.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan, Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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