Anthony Pasquale stops to visit his daughter at the Cedar Green Cemetery every morning, then returns once or twice more during the day. He sits on the small white bench and faces the polished granite headstone, etched with a hologram of Autumn on one side and the things she loved on the other — bicycles, soccer balls, cheerleading, skateboards.
From where he sits he can see the middle school, where his 12-year-old girl was a student, and next to that the high school, where the 15-year-old boy who killed her was one, too. When school is in session, Pasquale has even glimpsed a classmate peering out of the ground-floor science-lab windows, which look directly onto Autumn’s grave.
That’s how things work in a small town like Clayton, New Jersey, where everyone knows everyone else, where lives and stories intertwine. “Because it’s a small town — that’s why we live here,“ says Anthony Pasquale. But it was also why Autumn died.
“She trusted him because she thought everyone was raised the way she was,” he says of her attacker. “That everyone could be trusted. That all parents taught kids right from wrong.”
It has been nearly two years since Autumn went missing and Justin Robinson went to jail, pleading guilty to strangling her after she stopped by his house to trade parts for her brand-new bicycle. In that time her parents have learned that the stages of grief now include another step — finding someone to blame. It’s a stage well known to parents wrenched by a particular kind of loss, a kind arguably more common and certainly more public of late — losing children at the hands of other children. And it is raising questions with few answers in the existing legal system. READ MORE