Parents of Tristyn Bailey reflect on her legacy and the legal process in her case

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — She was a teenager who captured the hearts of almost anyone who knew her. The blonde-haired, 13-year-old cheerleader stood out among the crowd. Family and friends describe her as an energetic young girl who always stood up for her friends.

RELATED: Remembering Tristyn Bailey: Family releases statement ahead of Fucci sentencing

“She was just a powerful child that was able to give a lot to so many,” Stacey Bailey said. “The stories go on.”

A lot of those stories center around Tristyn and her classmates. She seemed to befriend many people from many different walks of life. Stacey Bailey told Action News Jax anchor, Meghan Moriarty, about a boy that Tristyn spoke about often at home. Stacey said he was having trouble in school.

“I never really knew until after, how much of an impact she made on him,” Stacey Bailey said. “[he said] she [Tristyn] would show up in the hallway after he would have a really hard day, and say tomorrow is a different day. It’s gonna be a better day.”

Stacey spoke about another instance where a young girl was being bullied and Tristyn told her mother, “I’m just gonna have to take care of it.” Stacey said the bullying stopped after that.

RELATED: Aiden Fucci pleads guilty in the murder of St. Johns County 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey

These stories have helped the Bailey family throughout the grieving process, but it still has been incredibly difficult to move on.

“As a parent, you just you can’t imagine just waking up every day and she’s not there,” Stacey Bailey said. “You don’t know how to go on about your day when a piece of you is missing. You long to hear their laugh and their smile.”

Action News Jax told you two weeks ago, on March 24, when the 13-year-old killer was sentenced to life in prison. The now 16-year-old, Aiden Fucci, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder back in February on the first day of his previously anticipated trial.

RELATED: ‘Difficult and shocking case:’ Aiden Fucci sentenced to life in the murder of Tristyn Bailey

“When the sentence came and he received a life sentence, it’s like for a few days you were back at ground zero,” Stacey Bailey said. “We all thought who are we now? What do we do?”

The sentencing took the family back to that Mother’s Day in 2021.

“As parents, we shoulder a lot of blame. I’m continually having a hard time thinking about, you know, had I stayed up that night like I typically did and chased everybody to bed rather than retiring because I was tired,” Forrest Bailey said. “[Also] the way that we always encouraged our kids to find the good in people, and maybe we should have pushed more to steer clear of people. Aiden never even have Tristyn’s contact information until that night, and I look back and think had it been one of those nights where I would have forced that cell phone to be turned in--or more aware of how the way that things can bounce around. I would never want another parent to have to live through the pain that we have to deal with.”

RELATED: Timeline of events in disappearance, murder of St. Johns County teen Tristyn Bailey

During the sentencing for Fucci, the defendant’s grandmother spoke on the stand. It’s something that the Baileys said they respected.

“For her to express that sorrow, that meant a lot to us,” Forrest Bailey said. “Our heart goes out to that grandmother and to his siblings and to members of the family. He did something absolutely horrific and heinous that is inexplicable to people.”

The legal battle still is not over. Fucci’s mother, Crystal Smith, pleaded not guilty to her charges of tampering with evidence. St. Johns County prosecutors released a video of Smith washing blood off Fucci’s jeans the night of the murder.

“Having just gone through the previous case, we have seen so many of the elements of the evidence against Crystal and the videos from within the house and the videos in the interrogation room-- it’s hard to take that she would write an apology letter, and yet not take responsibility for what she’s done,” Forrest Bailey said. “And, continue to put our family through this put the community through this.”

RELATED: Mother of teen accused of killing Tristyn Bailey charged for tampering with evidence

The hope is that Tristyn’s legacy will live on. Her parents want to make sure she is remembered. It’s evident that she is already living on through the many people she knew.

“It’s surprising that in 13 years, across so many different circles, she made so many connections,” Forest Bailey said. “She made such a big impact.”

Her family has created the Tristyn Bailey Memorial Fund to honor their daughter.

RELATED: St. Johns County community remembers Tristyn Bailey one year after her death

“We’re looking to align a lot of help with opportunities to help people in need, help that person who is being bullied or that person who needs that friendly face in the hallway,” Forrest Bailey said. “We look at the fight that Tristyn had for her life. We want to make sure that people are better prepared for that, so there are a number of groups that we’re looking to work with to do self-defense classes.”

They also plan to host a golf tournament in the fall.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article