The parents of 11-year-old AbbieGail Smith were overcome with anguish Friday after New Jersey prosecutors said an upstairs teen neighbor stabbed their precious daughter to death with a knife.
“I hope you rot in jail! My one and only daughter, you took her away from me. You need to rot in jail,” Smith’s distraught mom, Carol Bennett-Smith, yelled at suspect Andreas Erazo during his first appearance in Monmouth County Superior Court.
Erazo, 18, sat hunched in a chair, staring stubbornly at the ground as prosecutors read aloud his charges of first-degree murder and illegal weapons possession.
“You can’t even look at us!” Bennett-Smith cried with disgust.
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“I want him to rot in hell, but that’s because I’m angry and crying. His rotting in hell doesn’t mean she’s returning,” devastated dad Kenroy Smith, 50, told the Daily News over the phone from Jamaica.
“I think of my daughter, and I wonder what she went through with that guy. She was such a fragile little girl. I just think she was fighting for her life and couldn’t get help,” he said, breaking down in sobs.
The dad said Smith was born in Jamaica in 2005, then moved to the U.S. a few years later with her mom. He couldn’t join them because he’d been deported in 2001, but he still corresponded with Smith on a daily basis, either by phone or text messages, he said.
“I am just so out of my mind right now. I loved my daughter dearly. She was such a loving, kind girl,” he said during the call.
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“Why would he stab an innocent 11-year-old? That’s gruesome. That’s wicked,” he said.
Erazo lived directly above the apartment Smith shared with her mother and brother at the two-story Hancock Arms Apartments in Keansburg, neighbors said.
Smith was last seen at her unit at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday. Her family reported her missing about an hour later.
Prosecutors said Erazo was taken into custody Thursday after investigators found Smith’s body dumped in a hiding spot on the property.
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Smith’s mother and brothers gasped in horror Friday when authorities revealed in court she’d been viciously stabbed.
Judge Richard English ordered Erazo held without bail pending a detention hearing Wednesday.
Back at Smith’s building, a man said he recently spent the night at the apartment Erazo shared with his mom, Kalenna Santos.
“I saw him two nights ago for a quick second. He went straight to his room,” Bryce Ballew, 26, told The News.
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“He was troubled,” Ballew said of Erazo, explaining he recently moved back with his mom after living with an aunt.
“She just got him back a couple months ago. She hasn’t lived with him since he was younger,” he said. “They would smoke weed together, more of a friendship. She had him when she was really young.”
Friends said Smith and her mom, meanwhile, were practically joined at the hip.
“They were never apart. That’s why I can’t imagine what she’s going through. That was her best friend,” longtime pal and nursing assistant Arron Reeves, 35, said.
“This one was a difficult one. They all are, but especially when it involves a child,” Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said outside the courtroom Friday.
“I spoke to the loved ones of AbbieGail Smith,” he added. “(What) they want out of this is justice. It’s my job and my staff’s job to do the best to deliver that to them.”
He called the murder “one of the worst crimes” he’s ever seen.
“AbbieGail was a wonderful young girl,” John Niesz, the superintendent of Keansburg schools, said in a statement.
“She will be greatly missed.”
With David Boroff
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