Autumn Pasquale: Body of missing New Jersey girl believed found, officials say

Autumn Pasquale AP Photo/Clayton, N.J. Police Department

(CBS/AP) CLAYTON, N.J. - Officials have preliminarily identified a body found in a recycling container in Clayton as that of missing 12-year-old Autumn Pasquale, officials said Tuesday.

PICTURES: Body of missing NJ girl believed found

The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement that the body was found 10 p.m. Monday and is believed to be that of Pasquale, who was last seen 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.

"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."

About 200 law enforcement officials and hundreds more volunteers were searching for Autumn on Monday. Dalton said 75 people were interviewed that afternoon. Investigators didn't have any suspects or a sure sense of whether the New Jersey girl left on her own or was the victim of foul play.

Authorities said Pasquale, who turns 13 on 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 girlfriend's children.

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 text at 1:22 p.m. and didn't believe it was intended for her. She said it read, "don't be like that."

DeAnna's mother, Debi McMillen, said Pasquale was often at their house and that she always went home before her 8 p.m. curfew. It wasn't 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.

By Monday, the number grew as FBI and state police got involved in a search that 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 online.

Dalton said investigators accounted for all the registered sex offenders in the area, interviewed them and searched their properties. Meanwhile, volunteers went looking in area malls, handing out fliers and searching wherever they could.

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Oct. 22, 2012 - Autumn Pasquale Missing: Authorities searching for 12-year-old New Jersey girl