Wednesday, October 24, 2012


This beautiful girl was named Autumn, she was 12...She was reported missing by her parents on Saturday October 20th... Usually you hear about these things & you feel sad for the parents & child but afterwards you go on about your business cause what can you really do. Wishing things like this never happened & down deep feeling relieved it's happened there & not here. Not where you live.. grateful that it's not your town or god forbid your child. This time was different though, this time it hit way too close to home,& so I honestly couldn't stop thinking about Autumn, & her parents, it was all I could think about on Sunday after hearing about it, a deep profound fear & sadness about this child because not only did it happen in a town called Clayton NJ, the very next town from the one I grew up in but I knew her, not well but I knew her mom & had met her once, see I am facebook friends with her mom Jennifer. We had went to High School together. I wasn't super close to her back in the day, but close enough that she or I accepted the other's friend request a few years ago, & as I've grown to know Jennifer more, I've gotten to really like her. Some people you just connect a little bit more to than others on facebook, you can tell they are people whom you'd like to hang out with. I got to see her again two summers ago at a BBQ that one of another friend from High school was having, I realized I was right, she was still sweet & kind & I liked her instantly. We didn't talk too much that day, but we had a pleasant conversation, you know the kind you have when it's a little awkward not having seen a person in so long, but a very nice one nonetheless. I could tell my impression from facebook had been right, she was a nice person & had nice kids. The kind of person I could see being "real" friends with. She had brought along her two girls, She has a son & a step son also but I don't remember if they were there. I do remember her daughters, two of them. I initially thought they were twins, but I'm pretty sure she said no. Maybe Irish twins, very close in age. I could tell Jennifer was a good mom, a loving mom. SO when I heard about Autumn, I just couldn't stop thinking of how much pain she must be in. I just felt so scared that if this could happen to her daughter it could happen to anyone, to mine so I couldn't stop thinking about where Autumn was, it consumed me. I had met her, this beautiful girl from the missing poster, this time, this missing child wasn't just some child it was Autumn, Jennifer's daughter. I just wanted to do something to help. So on Monday i decided to go & help look for her. I honestly felt compelled to, I just kept thinking this could have been Emily. It wasn't fair, it was heartbreaking & I wanted to support Jennifer somehow, mostly I just wanted to find Autumn & ease her pain. SO Monday morning after making arrangements for rides to Clayton I went there, they set up arrangements for searchers to meet at the Presbyterian Church in the Center of the small town, lots of people showed up, desperate to help, I teamed up with other Glassboro classmates of ours from 20+years ago. Our small group was assigned 4 streets & we went door to door with flyers & looked in empty lots & anywhere & everywhere just looking for Autumn. I must admit my mind went to the place I didn't want it to while we were looking for her & at times I had an un-controllable need to SCREAM her name & other times I did. Our Team #18 was 7 women. Mine & Jennifer's former classmates/Friends from HS, Dawn & Michelle & Michelle's 20 yo daughter Samantha & three women who didn't know Jennifer or Autumn but also felt compelled to come & help. Samantha & I got teamed up. We kind of did a buddy system, each pair taking different houses. I remember saying perhaps she's in someone's house, an attic or basement so knock hard even if no one was home& listen & maybe we'll hear her screams. I just wanted so bad to find her, to stop this families suffering. We didn't of course, So after our grid was searched & we went back to the church to give them what little information we had (a women said she saw a vision, etc) & back there at the church, Jennifer saw us, she was acting so strong.. but you could see that her heart was broken. She acknowledged those in our group she knew, that by itself amazed me cause I'm not sure I'd had been that clear but to me she said " Melissa, thank you" Or something like that.. I did everything in my power not to cry cause I knew she was having a strong moment & I didn't want to do something to end it. I said simply "Sorry Jennifer" & I tried to convey everything in the hug i gave her, I hoped it let her know that she could lean on us, that she was brave & that I was sorry & a million other things I knew couldn't possibly make her feel any better. Nothing could except of course Autumn. While I wanted to stay all day there, looking for Autumn part of me wanted nothing more than to hug Emily, I couldn't stay anyway because I had to get home because no one was home to get Emily off the bus, the police told the groups that we were on stand by for now until they could re-organize & give out more grids they had our #'s & would call if need be,etc" I made arrangements to return on Tuesday morning with Sylvia another on our team, if she wasn't found before. So our team said our goodbyes at the church. But Michelle, Dawn, Samantha & I decided to continue looking for the 45 minutes we had before I absolutely had to leave to make Em's bus.. We all didn't want to stop yet...we didn't want to leave, we wanted to keep going-- we wanted to find Autumn the one thing we knew was the only thing that could ease the pain that Autumn's family was feeling. On Tuesday morning I learned that wouldn't come for Jennifer & her family because the police had discovered Autumn's body... This beautiful girl was gone & her parents will never be the same, an act of violence so despicable that you can't even wrap your head around it. To Jennifer & her family, & those that knew & loved Autumn, you have my sincerest sympathies, my thoughts & prayers are with you. Rest in peace Autumn you sweet beautiful little girl, may you be surrounded by love & peace now. I must say this, since I've heard about Autumn...It's made me want to appreciate what I have, life is full of pain & we don't know what this day or the next one will hold, & so I'm going to try & concentrate on the good more & the moment at hand. Since Autumn, Emily & I have had talks about things I wish we didn't have to. Reminders of what to do, not to do & that you don't know who is bad or good, they don't wear signs that say I'm bad-don't trust me, they could look like the nicest people, have been kind to you in past,are people you know or strangers, never go anywhere with anyone that Mommy & Daddy haven't ok'd to you directly, scream SO LOUD if anyone tries to grab you & always come straight home, always let us know where you are going, about good touches & bad touches, & all the while, hoping that I haven't scared the begeebez out of her, reminding her most people are good but you just never know so you need to have your guard up, & hoping that at 11, a quarter of this sinks in. Most importantly when I think of Autumn, all I want to do is give Emily more hugs, kisses, & way more I love you's. Lastly to anyone who is reading this please keep the Cornwell & Pasquale families in your prayers. I don't know how many people read my blog.. but if you happen to read this & would like to help a fund has been set up, contributions may be made to the Autumn Leigh Pasquale Memorial Fund, c/o Fulton Bank, 35 North Delsea Drive, Clayton, NJ 08312

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