Victim: Tristyn Bailey, 13
Death: May 9, 2021, St. John’s Florida
Alleged murderer’s age: 14
Tristyn Bailey, 13, was tragically murdered on May 9, 2021. The suspect, a 14-year-old male, has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder.
Tristyn participated in cheerleading and her favorite colors were aqua and white. She was a seventh-grader at Patriot Oaks Academy.
Colleen Michele JonesSt. Augustine Record
In a video made several years ago in reference to her cheerleading team, Bailey said: “That’s my squad. You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us, because we’re family.”
The message, which was posted as the backdrop to the memorial ceremony, seemed to hold even more meaning as the larger community gathered to support the family of 13-year-old Bailey, with thousands of friends, neighbors and classmates turning out for the event.
Bailey was killed May 9 near her home in Durbin Crossing in northwest St. Johns County. A 14-year-old male suspect, a classmate of Bailey’s at Patriot Oaks Academy, has been charged with second-degree murder in her death.
In one of the more moving moments of the service, Bailey’s father, Forrest — with his wife, Stacy and four other children flanking him on stage — said: “Our love is greater than the evil that can exist in the world.”
Patriot Oaks Academy Principal Allison Olson promised that the school will remember Bailey by trying to be better people every day.
“Tristyn’s thoughtfulness and her caring made her a light to everybody around her. I loved her cheerful energy. It inspired me every day,” Olson said. “Tristyn, our sweet girl, you will be missed.”
Friends and mothers in Bailey’s cheerleading family talked about her drive, spunk and kindness and how she was like another daughter to many in the community.
One cheer mom said those attributes were a tribute to her parents, who “always welcome you in with a hug and a smile.”
One of the cheer teams which Bailey was a part of, the Infinity Allstars, recently traveled to an ESPN competition in Orlando and took first place. Tristyn’s championship jacket was displayed on stage along with flowers, signs and photos during the memorial.
Bailey’s older sister, Brittney, recalled Tristyn as always being the center of attention, with a “contagious laugh and the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Brittney said she always admired her little sister’s dogged determination and that she wouldn’t stop until she reached her goals, whether it was nailing a back tuck move in cheering or making honor roll at school.
She was sassy, too.
“She couldn’t care less what the world thought of her. She loved herself some Tristyn,” Brittney said.
Her other siblings spoke of their sister’s love of TikTok, Starbucks coffee, Target and Gucci brand items. They had always referred to themselves as “The Bailey 7” and the loss of their “Baby Bailey” would not change that, they said.
Celebration Church Pastor Andrew Smith said the family had a private funeral ceremony over the weekend but wanted to focus on the way their daughter would be remembered as a bright life in the memorial Tuesday. Smith said many will remember Bailey as helping nurture others along the way with her fiery spirit.
“And today, the whole community has become her cheerleader,” Smith said.
Tristyn’s mother, Stacy, said her daughter’s confident, extroverted personality was evident from Day 1.
“She was the loudest one in the nursery,” Stacy said with a laugh.
Her mother said she was moved by the support they’d received from folks near and far, known and unknown.
“The outpouring of love from our community is breathtaking,” Stacy said.
The Bailey family has vowed to use money contributed to a GoFundMe account to keep their daughter’s name alive as a positive force.
Forrest Bailey said if there was one thing he could ask of people it was that when times are tough they might remember the example his daughter set.
“When things get difficult and challenging, I want you to hear one more voice in your head,” he said, “and hear her cheering you on.”
Loved ones share precious memories of the 13-year-old St. Johns County girl during the service at Celebration Church
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Family, friends and countless others around the world celebrated the life of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey on Tuesday.
Hundreds of people wearing aqua and white, Bailey’s favorite colors, attended the service at Celebration Church on Jacksonville’s Southside, and thousands watched the two-hour tribute online.
There were tears, but the memorial was overwhelmingly cheerful — and loud. It’s how Bailey’s loved ones said she’d want it to be.
“Tristyn had a laugh that was contagious and the brightest smile we ever saw,” said sister Brittney Bailey Russell. “Tristyn was one of the most confident, well-rounded, beautiful, smart and kind-hearted humans I know. She could care less what the world thought of her. She loved herself some Tristyn. Life will be difficult in this new world we have been shoved into. Aqua blue will always speak to us just as much as Gucci belts and Starbucks will remind us. But even through all the hard that is to come, we are seeing the light. Just alone the outcry has been more helpful in this grieving process. My family and I together have vowed to never let Tristyn’s name be lost, especially to her little niece who was robbed of having enough time with her aunt.”
Bailey’s family members remembered the chuckles, the cuddles and the love and they described the cheerleading captain as larger than life.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memories become treasures,” said sister Alexis Bailey. “Let Tristyn become your treasure.”
Bailey’s four older siblings spoke to the large crowd. They kept it cheerful and couldn’t help but laugh. Her teachers and friends also shared stories of the girl who lit up every room she stepped into.
“Tristyn’s thoughtfulness and her caring made her a light to everybody around her. I loved her cheerful energy. It inspired me every day. Tristyn, our sweet girl, you will be missed,” said Allison Olson, the principal of Patriot Oaks Academy, where Bailey attended. “I promise you we will remember you by becoming a little kinder, a little more patient and more compassionate.”
Her cheer squad made a video of the fun times, calling her tenacious and supportive and someone who stood up for her team and what was right. Bailey’s fellow cheerleading teammates even wore their uniforms to the service.
Pastor Andrew Smith officiated a private funeral for the Bailey family on Saturday. Tuesday was about lifting up the family, with the crowd giving the family, known as the “Bailey 7,” a standing ovation.
“We are forever changed as a family, but we will always be the Bailey 7. For now, I will follow what Tristyn has always said, ‘Get it together. You got this mom!’ Always and forever my cheerleader and my sweet baby girl,” said Stacy Bailey, the 13-year-old’s mother.
Forrest Bailey, her father, said: “When you give someone your thoughts and prayers, you are giving everything. There are no words. There are no words that will heal it. All of the messages that poured in, from people all over the place, they helped us.”
Pastor Jeff McDuffie said he’s in awe of the strength the Bailey family possesses.
“Just an amazing family,” he said. “They want to show the community love despite the pain they ever been through.”
Pastor Bob Thyer, director of care ministry, said the service gave loved ones an opportunity to come together.
“There’s a sense of excitement and anticipation for celebrating her life today,” Thyer told News4Jax ahead of the service. “As I walked through the lobby, people were chatting and talking with one another, and they’re looking forward to celebrating her life in the midst of a tragic tragic situation.”
Outside, a plane flew over the church with a banner reading #TristynBaileyStrong, which has been a motto for many of her loved ones as they honor her life. A Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department truck also pulled up to the service with an aqua ribbon in remembrance of her.
As the service ended, the crowd cheered: “Tristyn Bailey strong!”
“The whole idea behind the celebration of life, we believe when we pass away, it’s not the end,” McDuffie said.
Bailey’s family members said they’re blessed to have so many people who care.
Bailey was found dead about 6 p.m. May 9 in her Durbin Crossing neighborhood in St. Johns County, several hours after her family reported her missing. Authorities said they suspect she was killed by 14-year-old Aiden Fucci, a schoolmate of Bailey’s at Patriot Oaks Academy, although the murder investigation is ongoing.