What to Know
- Abbiegail Smith's mother reported her missing from their Keansburg, New Jersey, apartment shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday
- The 11-year-old 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
- Investigators want help in finding the culprit: "Nobody should sit still until we figure out who did this to this 11-year-old girl"
A missing 11-year-old New Jersey girl has been found dead, and prosecutors are asking for the public's help investigating her killing.
Police had been searching for Abbiegail Smith since she was reported missing Wednesday evening. She was with her mother in their Keansburg apartment, and the girl vanished at about 7:45 p.m., prosecutors said. Her mother reported her missing about an hour later. Authorities have ruled out the girl's family as suspects.
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The child abduction response team from the Monmouth County prosecutor's office, along with Keansburg police and other agencies, arrived on scene in the early morning hours Thursday to investigate, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
The young girl's body was found on the grounds of the Hancock apartment complex where she lived around 10:45 a.m., shortly after the 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," Gramiccioni said. "It's a punch in the gut for all of us here in the community, especially in law enforcement."
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Chopper 4 over the scene showed an extensive law enforcement presence around the Hancock Street Apartments. Gloved investigators were seen carrying black tarps and other potential evidence while others set up a makeshift tent around the apparent crime scene. The immediate entrance to the apartment complex appeared to be blocked off to traffic as investigators flooded the area.
Police dogs scoured the area for clues, and investigators armed with flashlights were seen going through the apartment where the young girl lived.
The medical examiner will determine a cause and manner of death but prosecutors are investigating the case as a homicide. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Monmouth County prosecutor's investigators at 800-533-7443.
"Nobody should sit still until we figure out who did this to this 11-year-old girl," said Gramiccioni.
Gramiccioni said he didn't find it unusual that the girl's mother called police just an hour after the girl went missing.
"Everybody reacts differently, but if you were looking around for an hour and didn't find your child, I think many parents would probably right away report their child missing to the police, out of an abundance of caution," he said.
One neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, says he was suspicious about a man who lives in building he saw talking the girl Wednesday before she went missing.
"He was talking to her," he said. "That's the part I didn't appreciate his age and her age."
The prosecutor's office said they are questioning several people, but no arrests have been made.
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Meanwhile, there was a soft glow of candles lighting up Keansburg as a memory for the young girl. A memorial was created under the crime scene tape surrounding the girl's apartment building.
"My heart breaks for the family," Sabrina Bellotti of Keansburg said. "It really truly does."