A 14-year-old white boy has been charged with the murder of Tristyn Bailey after the body of the 13-year-old Florida cheerleader was found in a wooded area Sunday evening, authorities said Monday.
Aiden Fucci, 14, was in custody and facing a single second-degree murder charge that could be expanded with more counts as the investigation unfolds, Sheriff Robert Hardwick of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference.
“We have a suspect in custody. That is the only suspect that has to do with the death of Tristyn,” Hardwick told reporters.
“They both attended the same school,” he said, naming Patriot Oaks Academy while declining to confirm the authenticity of reported social media posts or any prior relationship linking the teens.
A Snapchat selfie purportedly showing Fucci flashing a peace sign in the back of a deputy’s car is being probed as part of the investigation, a reporter with WJXT-4 in Jacksonville reported Monday.
The chilling caption on the post read, “Hey guys has inbody seen Tristyn lately.”
“I’ve confirmed with detectives this is part of the murder investigation, reporter Vic Micolucci said in a Facebook post showing the alleged Snapchat post.
Tristyn’s family reported her missing at around 10 a.m. Sunday, saying she was last seen hours earlier around midnight, police said.
She had been hanging out with friends at the Durbin Amenity Center in Durbin Crossing, south of Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union reported.
A 7th grade student and cheerleader for the Infinity AllStars and Patriot Oaks Chargers, Tristyn was last seen wearing her cheer outfit, the newspaper reported.
At approximately 6 p.m. Sunday, a body was discovered in the immediate area that was thought to belong to Tristyn, police said.
Hardwick confirmed the identification Monday, saying Tristyn was clothed and that a civilian found her while out searching near his home.
“Justice is being served, but we know that the community is angry. This is a very tight-knit community,” he said. “They’ve taken this personally.”
Hardwick declined to answer questions about the apparent manner of death and warned against any speculation as he thanked the community for helping with the search.
“Between social media and boots on the ground, they went to work,” he said.
The man who found Tristyn was out on his regular walking and jogging path in a subdivision and found her near a pond, sheriff officials said.