St. Johns County

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

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly two years after investigators say he fatally stabbed 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey more than 100 times, now-16-year-old Aiden Fucci has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in Tristyn’s death.

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.

Aiden Fucci, 14, has been arrested for the second degree murder in the death of Tristyn Bailey. At this time, investigators are not releasing information into how or why Tristyn was killed.

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.

RELATED: Could Aiden Fucci, the teen accused of killing 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey, be charged as an adult?

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.

Watch below:

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.

[RELATED: Aiden Fucci pleads not guilty to the murder of 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.

[RELATED: State Attorney’s Office provides update in Aiden Fucci case]

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.”

[RELATED: Community’s mission is keeping Tristyn Bailey’s memory alive]

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.”

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The State Attorney’s Office releases a list of witnesses and evidence collected in the investigation into 14-year-old Aiden Fucci, who is accused of killing St. Johns County 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey in May.

The list, which is called discovery, includes names of 154 potential witnesses.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The State Attorney’s Office releases new documents into the investigation of the murder of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey. Among the things revealed in the documents was the fact that two friends told investigators that Fucci told them “on multiple occasions that he wanted to kill someone by stabbing them or slitting their throat,” according to documents.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Crystal Smith, the mother of 14-year-old Aiden Fucci, who is accused of killing 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey, enters a written plea of not guilty for an evidence tampering charge in connection to Tristyn’s killing.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Surveillance footage and multiple Snapchat videos are among the new evidence released by the State Attorney’s Office.

In a surveillance video taken inside his family’s home, Fucci’s mother, Crystal Smith, can be seen entering her son’s bedroom after he was taken to the sheriff’s office and scrubbing blood off Fucci’s jeans.

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

During a court appearance in which he appeared virtually, Fucci stared at the ceiling and looked around the empty room multiple times. At one point he was heard mumbling on the phone about demons.

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

The Patriot Oaks Academy middle school football team honors Tristyn Bailey’s family at the school’s homecoming game. They presented the Bailey family with their own jersey.

Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021

Judge Howard M. Maltz said he hoped to set Fucci’s murder trial date for late 2022. The defense said it needed more time, as one of Fucci’s attorneys said he is working on a separate case involving the death penalty.

Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021

Judge Howard M. Maltz said he hoped to set Fucci’s murder trial date for late 2022. The defense said it needed more time, as one of Fucci’s attorneys said he is working on a separate case involving the death penalty.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Nearly one year after her death, Tristyn’s friends and loved ones reflected on the news that shook up their lives.

“Our gym has dedicated its season to her,” Zone Cheer All-Stars gym owner Jessica Molisanti said.

A Zone Cheer All-Stars hangs a plaque in Tristyn’s honor. At the time of her death, Tristyn was a seventh-grade cheerleading team captain at Patriot Oaks Academy. Her coaches at Zone said she was a hard worker and also a great friend.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Family, friends and neighbors gathered to remember Tristyn Bailey one year after she was killed.

It was an emotional night for the dozens of people who attended the vigil at a Durbin Crossing neighborhood. They wore aqua and held paper lanterns and candles.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Fucci’s defense files four motions, including one that asks the judge to bar cameras from livestreaming jury selection.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

The State Attorney’s Office releases dozens of emails sent to the school resource officer as well as St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office investigators.

The murder of St. Johns County 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey was “100% premeditated,” a friend of accused killer Aiden Fucci said, according to those newly released court documents.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Lawyers for Fucci file a motion to delay his trial. At this point, Fucci’s trial is set to begin in November 2022.

Monday, July 25, 2022

State investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirm that a knife found in a pond was the weapon used to murder St. Johns County teen Tristyn Bailey.

Friday, Aug. 5, 2022

Fucci’s trial is set to begin Nov. 7, 2022. During a court hearing, Fucci’s public defender requests that the trial to be moved to February 2023, as she needs more time to gather witness testimonies.

Before making a decision, Judge R. Lee Smith said he wanted to see how the next two weeks shape up.

Friday, Aug. 19, 2022

Fucci’s trial is pushed to 2023. Judge R. Lee Smith said he would allow the trial to be moved from November to February.

Fucci’s defense attorney said Friday 40 more depositions still needed to be taken, and the extra time would allow her to complete those.

Monday, Nov. 21, 2022

Fucci’s lawyers file a motion requesting to remove him from solitary confinement in the Duval County Detention Center.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022

Lawyers for St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick responds to the motion to remove Fucci from solitary confinement.

The legal filing said Fucci’s rights were lost once he was indicted, adding that those decisions are made by a sheriff based on security, not by an inmate.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

Action News Jax reports that Aiden Fucci’s defense team wants his trial moved out of St. Johns County.

The motion filed said “pretrial publicity has impaired the ability to secure fair and impartial jurors.”

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023

The state files a motion asking for a six-person jury instead of the usual 12-person jury in Fucci’s murder trial.

Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Judge R. Lee Smith approves the state’s request for a six-person jury instead of the usual 12-person jury in Fucci’s murder trial.

Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

Reports newly released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Thursday revealed that Fucci has reportedly engaged in multiple disturbing instances while incarcerated at the Duval County Jail.

According to records obtained by Action News Jax, Fucci had gotten into several fights and threatened to kill corrections officers, inmates and their families.

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

Fucci’s defense team files a motion requesting the trial be pushed back. Smith denied that motion.

Monday, Feb. 6, 2023

Fucci enters a plea of guilty in the 2021 killing of St. Johns County 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey.

Judge R. Lee Smith accepts Fucci’s plea to the count of first-degree murder.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Judge R. Lee Smith makes decisions about motions filed by Fucci’s defense ahead of his sentencing hearing.

The first motion presented by Fucci’s defense team asked the judge to not allow any examples of “post-arrest bad acts” to be considered during Tuesday and Wednesday’s sentencing hearings. Some of those actions include threats allegedly made by Fucci against inmates and guards during his time at the Duval County Jail.

In a second motion, the defense asked the judge to exclude prior bad acts – that is, before Fucci’s arrest. Some of those “bad acts” include things like allegedly disrespecting teachers and getting in fights at school.

Ultimately, the judge decided to table these motions, and said he would decide whether to allow discussion of pre- or post-arrest bad acts on a case by case basis.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Fucci’s two-day sentencing hearing begins. The prosecution’s goal was to paint a picture of who Fucci was at the time of Tristyn’s murder. Witnesses talked about a Snapchat selfie taken by Fucci in the back of a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle the day of the murder, following the crime.

Smith also heard from a crime scene analyst from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Dr. James Fulcher, Chief Medical Examiner for Volusia County and Dr. Gregory Prichard, a licensed psychologist.

Prichard described early signs of what he called Aiden Fucci’s “unusual” fascination with gore and violence and he shared chilling details from an interview he had with Fucci’s former girlfriend.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Fucci’s two-day sentencing hearing continues and Smith gets to hear from Tristyn’s family.

There were seven witnesses, including Tristyn Bailey’s siblings and parents. Alexis Bailey, Tristyn’s older sister, took the stand first. She brought with her an empty glass jar and dropped 114 teal stones inside.

“This jar now holds 114 stones,” Alexis said. “114 stab wounds.” It’s meant to represent the dozens of stab wounds Tristyn Bailey endured on Mother’s Day in 2021.

Tristyn’s brother Teegan Bailey spoke. He recounted the days when he would drive his youngest sister home from cheer practice or “spoil her” with Starbucks drinks.

“You took away my baby sister,” Teegan said, looking directly at Fucci. He then added his own stone to the jar. “I add this stone for the hope and belief I had for the good that people had that died when Aiden Fucci murdered my sister.”

With Fucci pleading guilty to stabbing Tristyn 114 times, the Bailey family asked Smith to sentence Fucci to the maximum punishment available in this case, life without parole.

“Please consider everything he has done to our family,” Tristyn’s mother Stacy Bailey said. “He is beyond saving.”

Friday, March 24, 2023

Judge R. Lee Smith sentences Aiden Fucci to life in prison for the murder of Tristyn Bailey.

“This case is probably the most difficult and shocking case that this county, St. Johns County, has dealt with,” Smith said before sentencing Fucci.

After court adjourned, Forrest Bailey, Tristyn’s father, spoke on behalf of his family and had a message for Tristyn.

“Tristyn I wanted to let you know we were so extremely proud of the person you were. The friend and teammate you were and what you left behind,” he said. “We love you, we will continue to hold you in our hearts. We will continue to be the Bailey 7.”


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