Authorities say 18-year-old Andreas Erazo is charged with murder in the death of AbbieGail Smith, whose body was discovered behind the Hancock Street Apartments complex in Keansburg, where she lived with her family.
Smith had last been seen in her apartment around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday and was reported missing about an hour later.
Officials say her remains were found with the help of police K-9s, near what is being described as a large container, around 10:45 a.m.
Erazo is said to be an upstairs neighbor. He is also facing weapons charges.
The Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office is expected to conduct an autopsy of the young girl to determine the cause and manner of her death.
Friends and neighbors in the devastated community turned out for a candlelight vigil in AbbieGail's memory Thursday night.
Candlelight vigil for 11-year-old AbbieGail Smith... cops say found murdered behind her Keansburg apartment. pic.twitter.com/lvI00huSD5— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) July 14, 2017
Area residents also left candles, flowers and other items at a growing memorial at the scene.
Keansburg school superintendent John Niesz issued the following statement after the discovery:
The Keansburg School community suffered a tragic loss on July 13, 2017 when Bolger Middle School student AbbieGail Smith age 11 died. It is a very sad day for our school district. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Keansburg School community go out to the Smith family. AbbieGail was a wonderful young girl who was a Titan through and through. She will be greatly missed by the entire Keansburg School District family, especially her friends and teachers.
Keansburg School District will provide grief counselors at Bolger Middle School to help students deal with their thoughts and feelings associated with the loss of AbbieGail.
We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of AbbieGail Smith. Please keep the Smith family in your thoughts and prayers.