Abbie Smith Stabbed to Death in Keansburg — ‘One of the Worst Crimes’ Prosecutor Has Seen
FREEHOLD BOROUGH — A day after the body of little Abbiegail “Abbie” Smith was found near her home and a neighbor was charged in her slaying, a grieving community has a burning question on its mind.
New details came to light Friday afternoon when the accused killer made his first appearance in court.
Prosecutors say the schoolgirl, whose body was found Thursday morning not far from her Keansburg home Thursday, was stabbed to death.
Police said they found her body wrapped in a blanket on a roof.
But authorities, who continue their investigation, have not publicly released a motive for the murder, which has sent shockwaves far beyond this Monmouth County borough.
"This is one of the worst crimes I’ve seen, as alleged," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said Friday afternoon after the court hearing. "Any time there is a child victim [...] it’s truly heinous."
The little girl's upstairs neighbor, Andreas Erazo, has been charged with first-degree murder and several weapons offenses. He was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home, which he shares with his mother.
Erazo, who is represented by a public defender, will be held in jail and appear before a judge Wednesday for a bail hearing. Prosecutors will ask a judge to hold him without bail indefinitely.
Abbie's mother cried out in court, which she attended with her sons and boyfriend.
"You killed my daughter, my one and only daughter," she was quoted as saying by the Asbury Park Press.
Gramiccioni declined to release more details about the investigation, citing court rules that prohibit prosecutors from prejudicing a case against a defendant.
He would not discuss what led authorities to the suspect, who was charged and arrested relatively quickly — a development that Gramiccioni described as a "silver lining" in this case.
He also did not know whether Abbie's family knew Erazo or what their relationship was.
He did say, however, that Abbie may have been killed in or near Erazo's apartment.
He also said investigators "recovered a great deal of evidence" and told reporters to "stay tuned" to future court proceedings when more information would be released.
Gramiccioni does not believe any other people were involved.
An autopsy is being conducted by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office. A summary of its findings will be released by the Prosecutor's Office.
Abbie’s body was found Thursday morning “in the immediate vicinity” of her home at the Hancock Arms Apartments on Hancock Street as police searched for her around 10:45 a.m., according to Gramiccioni.
He said the remains were found in an area behind the two-story apartment building.
Keansburg police had issued an alert via Facebook to locate the girl, who was reported missing around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, an hour after she left her home.
Willy Williams, a family friend, said he had seen Abbie on the apartment building steps just hours before she was reported missing.
“Me and her brother, Chad, were hanging out. She hugged him and waved goodbye to me,” he said Thursday, before news of the arrest.
“I’m never going to forget her. She was so sweet, and I hope they find the person who killed her.”
Gramiccioni described Abbie as a "lovely, lovely little girl."
"She was well loved by that family."