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Slain NJ girl's estate sues law enforcement agencies

WOODBURY, N.J. - The family of a New Jersey girl who was strangled by a teenage boy two years ago is suing several law enforcement agencies.

The lawsuit says that police didn't act properly and that if they had, there's "a reasonable chance" Autumn Pasquale would be alive.

The Courier-Post of Cherry Hill reports that the lawsuit alleges that authorities should have immediately implemented a child abduction response team after she was reported missing instead of waiting until the next day. It also claims they refused assistance from a retired law enforcement investigator.

Autumn, a 12-year-old Clayton resident, was killed in October 2012 after she went to 15-year-old Justin Robinson's house, which was several blocks from hers, after receiving a Facebook offer to trade bike parts. When she didn't return home that night, her family, then the entire community, set off in a frantic search.

Two days later, her body was found in a recycling bin behind the home next to Robinson's.

Robinson, now 17, pleaded guilty in adult court to aggravated manslaughter in August 2013 and is now serving a 17-year prison.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include six municipalities, state police, three Clayton police officers and the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office. It was filed in state Superior Court and seeks unspecified monetary damages.

"Law enforcement did not follow appropriate procedures as they should have been trained to do, including canvassing the immediate area. Law enforcement failed Autumn," the suit reads.

Bernie Weisenfeld, a spokesman for the Gloucester county prosecutor, said the girl already was dead when she was reported missing.

"Any civil action seeking monetary damages by pointing blame at police is misplaced," Weisenfeld said.

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