New family litigation in Autumn Pasquale murder case

Autumn Pasquale, 12, was reported missing Oct. 20.
Autumn Pasquale, 12, was reported missing Oct. 20.
Posted: February 08, 2013

The Autumn Pasquale murder case became mired in civil litigation Wednesday, forcing a change in prosecutors and revealing a rift in the 12-year-old victim's family over her memorial fund.

The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said a lawyer representing Pasquale's father, Anthony, had filed formal notice of a possible civil suit against the office.

Because of a potential conflict created by the suit, the office is turning over prosecution of the two teenage brothers charged with the murder to the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

Paul Spadafora, who is Anthony Pasquale's uncle and Autumn Pasquale's godfather, has repeatedly alleged that Prosecutor Sean Dalton's office botched the hunt for Autumn, a claim the office challenged again in a statement Wednesday.

Autumn's mother, Jennifer Cornwell, filed suit Tuesday against Anthony Pasquale, her former husband, in a dispute over control of an estimated $100,000 memorial fund established in their daughter's name.

After jointly overseeing the fund, Pasquale had his ex-wife's name removed from the Fulton Bank account where it was held without telling her, according to the suit filed in Gloucester County by attorney Robert Feltoon.

Cornwell also alleged that Pasquale had shut her out of any decision-making for their daughter's tombstone, causing her "great anguish."

Doug Long, an attorney who represents Pasquale, did not respond to requests for comment. He earlier told the Philadelphia Daily News that Cornwell's suit was "disappointing and curious."

In letters included in the court filing, Long described Pasquale as his children's primary parent and said Cornwell was often absent from their lives.

Autumn Pasquale was reported missing the night of Oct. 20 after she did not return to her father's Clayton home on time, prompting a vast search by officials and local residents.

Her body was found two nights later about a mile away in a curbside recycling bin next to the home where the two suspects lived.

Spadafora has asked whether Pasquale would still be alive if the search had been handled differently.

In its statement Tuesday, Dalton's office said that "all indications are" that Pasquale, who went to the defendants' home ostensibly to trade bicycle parts, was dead hours before she was reported missing.

Spadafora's complaints prompted an investigation of the Prosecutor's Office by the state Attorney General's Office.

Dalton's office said Wednesday that "the State Attorney General's Office last month assured a member of Autumn Pasquale's family that 'we have the utmost confidence in their skill and professionalism.' "


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