Victim: Trystin Bailey, 13
Suspect’s age: 14
Crime date: May 9, 2021
Crime location: St. John’s Florida
Murder method: 114 stabs
Charges: First-degree murder
Trystin Bailey, 13, was stabbed 114 times. A 14-year-old suspect has been charged as an adult with the first-degree murder of Trystin. According to investigators, the suspect made statements to several people “that he intended to kill someone.” He also allegedly admitted to investigators that he got into an argument with Trystin and that he forcefully pushed her to the ground. Furthermore, investigators have located DNA evidence from the suspect on Trystin’s body. And Trystin’s DNA was found on the suspect’s shoes.
Aiden Fucci, 14, to be tried as adult for 1st-degree murder
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that some might find graphic in nature. Reader discretion advised.
The teenager initially charged with second-degree murder in the death of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey, is now being tried as an adult for first-degree murder.
R.J. Larizza, state attorney for Florida’s Seventh Judicial Circuit, said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference in St. Johns County that the decision to upgrade the charges against Aiden Fucci, 14, was appropriate based on the circumstances surrounding Bailey’s death.
“It’s a sad decision, and a sad state of affairs. But it was clear to us after we looked at what happened, that it was not only appropriate to charge the defendant as an adult, but it was really the only choice that we can make,” Larizza said.
Bailey, the state attorney said, was stabbed 114 times.
“To say that it was horrific could arguably be made as an understatement,” Larizza said.
He said at least 49 wounds were to Bailey’s hands, arms and head and were “defensive in nature.”
“The bottom line is that premeditation, could be inferred, certainly from just the sheer number of stab wounds that Tristyn Bailey had to suffer,” Larizza said.
The state attorney said there was more that led them to the decision to charge Fucci as an adult. He said the decision came after information investigators gathered from witnesses and that Fucci made statements to several people “that he intended to kill someone.” Larizza said it was never specified who.
“He indicated to several witnesses that he was going to kill someone by taking them in the woods and stabbing them, which are certainly the facts of this case,” Larizza said.
According to the state attorney, Fucci had a knife, which was found in a pond in close proximity to Bailey’s body.
The tip of the knife, Larizza said, had broken off and was found by the medical examiner in Bailey’s body.
The state attorney said that furthermore, investigators located DNA evidence from Fucci on Bailey’s body. He said that Bailey’s DNA was also found on shoes belonging to Fucci that were found in his bedroom.
“I hope that parents will learn something from this, this vicious and brutal murder, and that is that you need to know what your kids are doing and what they are saying,” Larizza said. “Because while we might not be able to stop these brutal and vicious murders from happening, we ought to at least try.”
Affidavit: Fucci told investigators he & Bailey were in argument
According to the warrant affidavit from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Fucci was interviewed by detectives who were investigating Bailey’s disappearance.
The affidavit states that Fucci’s story to detectives changed several times, but that he made several admissions. It states Fucci admitted to walking along North Durbin Parkway and getting into an argument with Bailey, “in which he forcefully pushed the victim to the ground, causing her head to strike the ground.”
At 1:45 a.m., the warrant states, two people believed to be Bailey and Fucci were seen walking east along Saddlestone Drive. It states that surveillance video at 3:27 a.m. captured who is only believed to be Fucci walking west on Saddlestone Drive and carrying a pair of white Nike shoes.
According to the affidavit, the white pair of Nikes that were found in Fucci’s room, as well as a hooded sweatshirt, contained blood stains that later came back as Bailey’s DNA.
The warrant states that two “witnesses/friends” of Fucci said the recovered Buck brand folding knife appeared identical to a knife that Fucci was known to carry.
A neighborhood that will always remember
A memorial for Bailey in the Durbin Crossing neighborhood remained standing Thursday.
Many residents who spoke with News4Jax said were relieved to learn Fucci will be tried as an adult. The details revealed by the State Attorney’s Office in regard to Bailey’s death bring heartbreak.
“My heart hurts. It hurts. I just don’t understand,” said Dana Garrison, a resident. “It’s like you want an answer, but I don’t think there’s going to be an answer that’s going to give you a good feeling.”
Tina Sherma, a resident, said the findings reported Thursday bring a sense of awareness.
“Somehow, someway it kind of make a red flag, and it’s better to be cautious than unsure,” Sherma said.
News4Jax visited Fucci’s address for comment. No one answered the door.
Bailey’s body was found on Mother’s Day near a retention pond in a cul-de-sac in the Durbin Crossing subdivision, less than a half-mile from Fucci’s home, according to an arrest report. The discovery was made by a neighbor out for a walk around 6 p.m., roughly eight hours after Bailey’s family called 911 to report her missing.
Earlier this month, thousands of community members signed change.org petitions, asking the State Attorney’s Office and Gov. Ron DeSantis to charge Fucci as an adult and with first-degree murder.
A 14-year-old boy is in custody on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Tristyn Bailey, St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick said during a news conference Monday morning.
The suspect is being held at the Department of Juvenile Justice. He is an eighth-grader at Patriot Oaks Academy, the same school where Bailey, 13, attended seventh grade.
Hardwick said the investigation is in the “very beginning stages” and did not release any details related to Bailey’s death, including the cause of death or how Bailey and the suspect may have been linked.
Dig a little deeper:What we know about the death of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey
Bailey was last seen around 1:15 a.m. Sunday at the Durbin Amenity Center in the northwest community of Durbin Crossing, authorities said. The sheriff’s office deployed numerous resources and began searching the immediate area. Her body was located by a resident in a remote wooded area near a pond at around 6 p.m. Sunday, Hardwick said.
Bailey was found clothed but the medical examiner’s office is still investigating the cause of death, Hardwick said.
The 14-year-old is the only suspect in the case at this time, however the investigation is still ongoing, according to Hardwick, adding that the sheriff’s office was still in the process of interviewing potential witnesses and other sources.
Bailey’s family reported her missing to police around 10 a.m. Sunday after last seeing her at approximately midnight the night before.
Bailey, a cheerleader for the Infinity AllStars and the Patriot Oaks Chargers, was last seen wearing her cheer outfit.
The sheriff’s office issued a Florida Missing Child Alert and family, neighbors and deputies searched for the teen Sunday until the body was discovered by a man jogging near his home early Sunday evening.
The suspect was taken into custody overnight, according to Hardwick.
On Monday morning, multiple crime scenes, including two residences, could be seen marked off with yellow police tape across the quiet residential community, which Hardwick said had been essential in providing information leading to the arrest.
“This community helped solve the case, this community,” Hardwick said. “This community went to work. … We saw moms and families out walking the woodline in clothes like church clothes yesterday.”
A Look Back:Jacksonville’s missing children’s cases
Hardwick added there are a lot of rumors floating around on social media, but that his team is following up on any and every potential lead.
More charges could be added or upgraded in consultation with the State Attorney’s Office.
School district spokeswoman Christina Langston said Patriot Oaks Academy had crisis counseling available onsite and that many students and staff wore the color white on Monday in honor of Bailey.
Said Hardwick: “Tristyn is not coming home. She is not coming back to school. People there loved her.”
In an email Monday afternoon, Patriot Oaks principal Allison Olson acknowledged the impact the tragedy had on the entire school community, saying: “We now have two families that are devastated and heartbroken.”
A candlelight vigil for Tristyn Bailey is planned for 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Durbin Crossing neighborhood.