ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A closely-knit community is grieving after deputies say a resident found the body of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey in a wooded area, hours after she was reported missing Sunday.
Authorities arrested Aiden Fucci, a 14-year-old boy who attended school with Tristyn, for her murder.
Action News Jax is following the case closely and will add new details here as more information becomes available:
Sunday, May 9, 2021 - 1:59 p.m.:
Families all over were celebrating Mother’s Day when the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office announced it was searching for Tristyn. She was reported missing that morning by her family.
Deputies said she was last seen May 9 around 1:15 a.m. at the Durbin Amenity Center, located in the 700 block of North Durbin Parkway, in northwest St. Johns County. She was last seen wearing a white cheerleading skirt and a dark colored shirt.
Sunday, May 9, 2021 - 4:54 p.m.:
A Florida Missing Child Alert was issued for Tristyn. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, that alert is issued when a child is missing and is believed to be in life-threatening danger, with no indication that the child has been abducted.
Sunday, May 9, 2021 - 7:56 p.m.:
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office held a news conference to give an update on the search for the missing teen.
During the briefing, deputies gave a recap of the case. SJSO said Tristyn’s family notified them of her disappearance at 10 a.m. on May 9.
The family last saw Tristyn around midnight, deputies said.
After an exhausting search by the sheriff’s office and the neighborhood, a body believed to be Tristyn’s was found.
Tristyn Bailey: Cheerleading community reflects on Tristyn’s life and legacy
Deputies said this is the very early stages of a complex investigation. SJSO did not say how the teen died or if there were any suspects in custody in connection to her death.
When asked about two homes that are taped off in the community, SJSO said: “There’s a lot of people in this community we’re talking to.”
SJSO said they would provide an update on the case on Monday, May 10.
Sunday, May 9, 2021 - 9:51 p.m.:
SJSO released an updated statement online regarding its investigation. They said the body was found at 6 p.m. in the immediate area.
“We do not believe there is a threat at this time and the community can stand down from any further search efforts.”
Read the full statement below or click here.
Monday, May 10, 2021 - 11:39 a.m.:
An arrest has been made in connection to the death of Tristyn, Sheriff Robert Hardwick of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, announced Monday.
Aiden Fucci, 14, is in custody and is facing a second-degree murder charge, the sheriff’s office announced during a news conference.
Hardwick confirmed that Tristyn’s body was found by a resident Sunday in a wooded area. SJSO said there are multiple crime scenes involved.
A cause of death has not been released at this time. The medical examiner is conducting its investigation.
SJSO said Aiden attended Patriot Oaks Academy, a K-8 school on Longleaf Pine Parkway, with Tristyn and both grew up in the same neighborhood.
Aiden is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in the Volusia County Regional Detention Center, the Office of State Attorney R.J. Larizza said.
“Our office will continue to investigate the case to determine both the appropriate charges going forward, and whether or not he will be charged as an adult,” Larizza’s office said in a statement.
CRIME GUIDELINES NOTE: Each time a minor is arrested, Action News Jax discusses the seriousness of the charge they are facing. In this case, Aiden Fucci is facing a second-degree murder charge, which is a felony, so that is why we have decided to show his photo.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - 8:37 a.m.:
Aiden appeared in Volusia County Regional Detention Center in front of Circuit Judge Michael Orfinger for a detention hearing.
Aiden appeared to fight back tears as the judge formally charged him with second-degree murder.
Judge Orfinger ordered Aiden to stay in juvenile detention for 21 days until the State Attorney makes their decision on if he will be charged as an adult.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021 - 12:54 p.m.:
In an updated statement, the sheriff’s office revealed that Tristyn was stabbed to death.
SJSO said it continues to investigate the case fully and will begin transitioning the case to the State Attorney’s Office.
Read the full statement below or click here.
Monday, May 17, 2021:
A “motion to withdraw as counsel” was filed by Jacksonville attorney Anwar Snober, who had been retained to represent Aiden.
The motion stated that Snober “has discussed the matter with the Defendant and his parents and both are in agreement as to the withdrawal of counsel.”
Another motion was also filed in the case, to determine the Fucci family’s indigency status, meaning it would determine if they could afford a lawyer to defend the teen in court.
That motion was filed by Assistant Public Defender Liana Dolores Orta.
Read more here.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
A celebration of life was held to honor the life of Tristyn.
Several people attended the memorial at Celebration Church in Jacksonville wearing aqua and white, the teen’s favorite colors.
See the full service below or click here.
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Aiden will be charged as an adult, according to motions filed in court.
His charge has been upgraded from second-degree murder to premeditated first-degree murder.
Friday, May 28, 2021
Aiden appeared before a judge for a first appearance following the announcement that he would be charged as an adult.
The judge said his first degree premeditated murder charge is a capital felony punishable by life or death.
Because Aiden is a a juvenile, death is not an option, but the charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
He’s being held without bond.
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Aiden Fucci enters a plea of not guilty in the murder of Tristyn Bailey.
Originally, he was set to be arraigned on June 10.
Action News Jax legal expert Dale Carson said a plea of not guilty will be a way to uncover evidence against Fucci, opening the door to a jury trial.
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Aiden’s mother Crystal Smith turned herself in following a warrant for her arrest for evidence tampering charges.
According to the arrest warrant, Smith washed the jeans Aiden was wearing when deputies say he killed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey.
The warrant says Smith was present on May 9 while Aiden was being interviewed by investigators about Tristyn’s death. After her son left with deputies, surveillance cameras inside the house captured Smith going into Aiden’s room, grabbing a pair of jeans, then scrubbing the jeans in a bathroom sink. Investigators say she returned the jeans to Aiden’s room a couple of hours later.
The jeans were found while investigators searched Aiden’s home. According to the warrant, they tested positive for blood.
The drain in the sink where investigators say Smith washed the jeans also tested positive for the presence of blood.
In a statement sent to Action News Jax, State Attorney R.J. Larizza said, “Tampering with evidence is tampering with justice and cannot be excused or tolerated.”
Sheriff Rob Hardwick said, “I remain incredibly proud of the men and women of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office for their continued thoroughness in this investigation. Our goal in any investigation is to ensure proper accountability across the board for successful prosecution.”
He added, “Crystal Smith will be held responsible for her role in this case and justice will be served for Tristyn Bailey and her family.”
- Investigating Tristyn Bailey’s murder, Sheriff says “Our investigators are not done”
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- TRAGIC UPDATE: 13-year-old last seen at Durbin Amenity Center found dead
- St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office says body found is believed to be reported missing 13-year-old girl, community is grieving
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