What to Know
- Prosecutors announced an arrest Friday morning in the killing of 11-year-old Abbiegail Smith whose body was found hours after she vanished
- Abbiegail's mother reported her missing from their Keansburg, New Jersey, apartment shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday
- The girl had last been seen in the apartment around 7:45 p.m. that day; her body was found around 10:45 a.m. the next morning
Authorities have arrested a neighbor in the killing of a New Jersey girl whose body was found near her home Thursday morning, hours after she was reported missing by her mother, the Monmouth County prosecutor says.
Andreas Erazo, 18, was arrested on murder and weapons charges in the stabbing death of 11-year-old Abbiegail Smith in Keansburg, the prosecutor said Friday morning. Erazo lived upstairs from the girl at the Hancock Street Apartments, authorities say.
Abbiegail's body was found partially clothed and wrapped in a comforter on a roof behind the building where she and the suspect lived, law enforcement sources tell News 4. The sources said her hands had been bound. She had gone out the night before to throw out something in the dumpster and never returned.
Erazo hung his head and said nothing during his first court appearance Friday afternoon. The girl's mother, a nurse, said to him at the end of the proceeding, "I hope you rot in jail. My one and only daughter. Rot in jail."
Erazo is being held in jail without bail. He'll get another detention hearing next Wednesday. If convicted of murder, he faces a minimum of 30 years in prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Investigators questioned several people in Abbigeail's death before arresting Erazo. Another neighbor told News 4 he was suspicious about a building resident he saw talking to Smith Wednesday before she vanished. It's not clear if that man is Erazo.
The young girl's mother reported her missing around 9 p.m. Wednesday, about an hour after she disappeared from their apartment at the Hancock complex in Keansburg.
Abbiegail's body was found around 10:45 a.m. Thursday, shortly after the Monmouth County prosecutor launched a social media campaign asking for the public's help finding the missing girl.
"We were really hopeful that we would find her," Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a news briefing at the scene Thursday. "It's a punch in the gut for all of us here in the community, especially in law enforcement."
Chopper 4 over the scene Thursday showed police gathered on the roof of a shed behind an apartment building after the girl's body was found. They carefully lowered a covered stretcher, then wheeled it away.
Neighbors have been distraught since Abbiegail's body was found.
"This girl was a very good girl. She was sweet," Deborah Heasman told News 4, her voice shaking. "This shouldn't happen to anybody's child."
"We live in a world, where we turn our backs for one second, our kids -- we gotta be afraid," she said.
On a street where the suspect once lived, neighbor Brian Iupo said he would get an occasional hello.
"He would come and play basketball, he was very good," said Iupo. "He seemed like a quiet kid."