The heartbreaking murder of Tristyn Bailey

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13-year-old Tristyn Bailey

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 9, 2021, 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey’s family called 911 & reported her missing at 10am. The family lived in St Johns, Florida which is on the Atlantic coast, north of St Augustine & south of Jacksonville; they lived in a neighborhood called Durbin Crossing. Tristyn was an active 7th grade cheerleader who was described as a good student who was doing well in school, she had three older sisters & one older brother & lived with her mom & dad. She had already won awards & championships for cheerleading. Many recall her kindness & positive outlook on life. Her sister remembers, “Tristyn always made her present well-known. That’s why she shined so bright in cheer & rounded up some of the best friends a girl could ask for.” On the Friday of that weekend, May 7th, Tristyn went to the Durbin Crossing Food Truck Friday event; a friend’s parents drove them there & picked them up after. 

Saturday evening, May 8th, the Bailey family went out to dinner & visited one of their adult daughters; they arrived back home at 11:45pm. Shortly after, at midnight, Tristyn’s sister, Sophia saw her talking with a boy she didn’t recognize with a backwards white baseball hat on a video chat in the garage. Tristyn was last seen wearing what family believed to be a white cheer shirt & dark shorts & black Van shoes. Another missing persons report indicated she was wearing a white cheerleading skirt & a dark colored shirt. That’s the last time her family would see Tristyn alive.

Tristyn’s dad, Forrest, remembers that next morning, Mother’s Day, May 9th; the plan was for his daughters to make a Mother’s Day breakfast for their mom, Stacy. Sophia came down to get things ready & went to wake Tristyn up at approximately 9:40 am but she wasn’t in her room. The Bailey family searched the home & realized she wasn’t there. Forrest searched the area north of the amenities center though his daughter was nowhere to be found. 

At 10am, Stacy, Tristyn’s mom called 911 to report her daughter missing. During the call, Stacy’s voice sounded upset & distraught. She requested an officer, stating that she had a missing child who was her daughter, Tristyn Bailey. She told them that Tristyn was a 13-year-old female, approximately 5’4” & 130# who attended Patriot Oaks Academy. She said that her other child last saw Tristyn at around midnight & Tristyn should have been asleep in her bedroom. She said that Tristyn had never been known to sneak out of the house before. Her cell phone wasn’t in her bedroom & their calls to it were going straight to voicemail. Her cell phone locations & Snapchat locations were turned off. A family friend had Tristyn on the Life 360 app but that location was also off. She didn’t have the Find My iPhone app on her phone.

The dispatcher instructed Stacy to search the house room by room while they were on the phone together & she told her that the family had already done so. Stacy said that Tristyn had recently been hanging out with kids in the neighborhood & she participated in cheerleading for three different squads. She said that her daughter didn’t seem upset before going to bed though she had been more stand-offish lately & spending more time in her bedroom.

Stacy said that Tristyn never spoke of wanting to leave or harm herself. She had voiced that she felt like she didn’t do anything right. She took no medications for anxiety or depression & she didn’t have a boyfriend. Her mom indicated that she communicates with several friends from school.

Volunteers quickly came together, abandoning their Mother’s Day plans to help police & the family search for the young girl. The search was called off that evening after police received a phone call at 6:06pm from a neighbor, Daniel Hart, who was out for a run & stopped to search the area near his house when he found what appeared to be a deceased female. He immediately called 911 & didn’t go near the body. It was sadly determined that this was 13-year-old Tristyn; a deputy pronounced her dead at 6:15pm. Her body had evidence of sharp force trauma injuries.

Residents of the neighborhood quickly came forward with home surveillance videos that assisted police in solving this murder. Early that Sunday morning, Tristyn was seen at 1:15am at the Durbin Crossing neighborhood amenity center. According to AT&T records that her family obtained, she sent a message to a 407 area code number & this was the last time she used her cell phone. 

The next day, Monday, May 10th, a 14-year-old, eighth grade boy named Aiden Fucci was arrested & charged with 2nd degree murder as he was believed to have killed Tristyn. The charge was later upgraded to first-degree murder & he will be tried as an adult due to the severity of the crime; because of his age, he is not eligible for the death penalty. In Florida, juveniles are separated from the general adult population in jails & prisons, even when they’ve been tried as an adult. Tristyn & Aiden both attended Patriot Oaks Academy in St Johns, Florida & phone records showed that Tristyn had an incoming voice call at 12:25am the night she was last seen & this number was later identified as Aiden Fucci’s. 

By fellow classmates, Aiden was described as: Someone who has no feelings towards anyone, including himself. The type of person you would see as a murderer. Someone who just doesn’t care, a numb person. A friend spoke with Tristyn on Friday, May 1st & Tristyn mentioned she was planning to hang out with Aiden but didn’t want her friend to come because she had a bad feeling about it. Aiden had a girlfriend named Zofie who was also in 8th grade at the same school. When speaking with police, she said that Aiden has anger issues & hated the things he did when he was angry, such as throwing things. She said he always carried a knife with him when he wasn’t in school & frequently spoke of killing people, even about killing Zofie herself. On occasion, Aiden would take out his knife & pretend to stab her, sometimes surprising her from behind, putting the knife to her throat & pretending to slit her throat. He even named his two knives that he frequently carried, “Picker” & “Poker.” 

Zofie said that within the last month, they had a conversation & Aiden said that he was going to murder someone & he would find a random person walking at night, drag them into the woods & stab them. He said it would happen soon, within the month. He said he would act innocent after the murder & continue to kill people. He would then run away, make people believe he was dead & continue to kill people.  She said he claimed to hear voices in his head when he was angry & they would tell him that he was worthless & a disappointment; they would also tell him to kill people when he was angry. He said he knew something was wrong with him & he wanted to get help.

Aiden Fucci

Aiden’s closest friend Doffis Absher who went by the name Tre, described Aiden as a big pothead & that all he talked about was marijuana, death & killing. Police soon discovered that Tre was one of the last people to see Tristyn alive so they went to his house at 11am on May 9th to speak with him. He told police that he & Aiden were hanging out together at 11:30pm the night Tristyn was murdered; they were talking & playing video games. Tre told Aiden that he often invites Tristyn when he has friends over & asked if Aiden thought he should invite her then & Aiden agreed so Tre called her & invited her over. Aiden then asked for her number & called her at 12:25 am & told her she should leave before her sister went to bed. 

When Tristyn came over at 12:30 am, she snuck around the north side of the house to avoid the home’s security cameras. Tre said she was upset & afraid that her sister caught her sneaking out. He said that while he stayed inside, Aiden & Tristyn went outside to smoke CBD. Tre joined them for a bit but went back inside & fell asleep watching TikTok videos while Aiden & Tristyn stayed outside. Tre told police that while the three of them were talking, he mentioned that he was into boxing & Aiden said, “his crush is fighting, mine is killing people.” Tre said that whenever Aiden spoke of killing people, slitting their throats or stabbing them, he never specifically mentioned anyone. Aiden voiced that it would be satisfying to watch the blood drain out of someone.  Tre didn’t think Aiden was serious about these statements but used them as a way to cope with his home life. 

Tre said that Aiden always carried a knife with him & described one in particular. When detectives showed him a picture of the murder weapon, he said he was 100% confident that it was Aiden’s knife. He said that Tristyn herself had held that knife.  He said that Aiden wanted to “move in on” Tristyn, but couldn’t because he had a girlfriend. 

Tre said that when Aiden & Tristyn came inside & woke him up, he told them they should leave since he was grounded & wasn’t supposed to have people over. He recalls them leaving together at 1:10am & Tristyn was wearing a black & gray t-shirt with the word “Pink” across the front & black sweatpants. The next morning when police came to his house at 11am, he didn’t understand why they were there & that’s when he was told that Tristyn was missing. He tried calling & texting Tristyn but couldn’t reach her. He also called Aiden & he said he didn’t know where she was. Police left Tre’s house & headed to Aiden’s; Tre made a FaceTime call to Aiden to warn him & recalls that he looked a little panicked. 

Police then went to Aiden’s house within the same neighborhood to interview him. With his mother, Crystal Smith’s consent, Aiden showed Deputy Robert Maloney where he & Tristyn went after leaving Tre’s house; he said they walked to North Durbin Parkway & that Tristyn turned onto Cloisterbane Drive to go back to her house & that he walked along North Durbin Parkway & got home between 3-3:30am.

The deputy asked him to clarify this because it was questionable that it would have taken him two hours to walk from Tre’s house to his house; according to Google Maps, the distance was 1.4 miles & would have been a 28 minute walk. Aiden then changed his story & said that he & Tristyn continued to walk along North Durbin Parkway & got into an argument after Tristyn grabbed his penis. He said he forcefully pushed her to the ground which caused her to strike her head. He said this happened at the 600 block of North Durbin Parkway, just north of Leith Hall Drive. Aiden said he was dizzy from smoking marijuana earlier at Tre’s house & wasn’t sure  if Tristyn got up.

Aiden said after this, he walked alone for a while. He also told a detective that it was possible that Tristyn could be with a drug dealer in his 20s that she communicates with through Snapchat or that they could find her on a pathway by the north amenities center where teenagers gather to use drugs.

At this point, Aiden had his rights read as detectives felt a crime may have occurred. Aiden invoked his rights & provided no further information & his parents requested an attorney. 

As police continued their investigation, at 2:23pm on May 9th, Sheriff’s deputy Kurt Hannon placed a “ping” order for Tristyn’s phone to try to locate it, believing the phone would be with or near her. 

At 3pm, contact was attempted with two of Tristyn’s friends, Samantha & Lina; no one was home though they were able to reach their father via phone. Jerry informed them that Lina had spoken with Tre & was told that Tristyn & another boy snuck out in the middle of the night & were hanging out at the north amenities center. Tre said Tristyn was going to hang out with a 22-year-old drug dealer named “Karlo.” This person was tracked down though eliminated as a suspect as they hadn’t been in the area since May 1st.

Meanwhile cell phone investigation continued & the location showed a 2,500 meter radius from that central location; a wooded area. A request was made for a 30-day record of calls & texts from Tristyn’s phone to identify a pattern to identify someone she may have been in contact with at the time she went missing.

At 4:29pm deputy Hannon received an email with a photo attachment of a Snapchat message; it was Aiden Fucci in the back of a patrol car taking a selfie while holding a peace sign with a message saying “Hey guys has anybody seen Tristyn lately.” The message was forwarded at least twice & included text banners that read “Wtf Aiden” and “You were with her Aiden u know what happened to her.” Deputy Hannon requested that Aiden’s phone be seized as possible evidence. It was later discovered that he had taken multiple smiling selfies & videos as he sat in the back of the patrol car with his friend, Tre.

At 6:06pm the sheriff’s office received a call that a deceased female was found. A deputy pronounced Tristyn dead at 6:15pm. She was found in a wooded area about 80 feet from the southernmost retention pond at the end of the cul-de-sac on Saddlestone Drive in the neighborhood where she lived, only 0.3 miles from Aiden’s home. She was lying on her right side, wearing a black Victoria’s Secret shirt with the word Pink on the front, black Nike brand sweatpants & black & white Van slip-on shoes. Her blond hair was matted & red in color which appeared to be blood. It was obvious she had stab wounds on her arms, hands & neck; injuries to her back were evident by holes in her shirt. In the immediate area, they found her cell phone, a gold-toned ring, a pink vape device that belonged to her & $20. There was a Powerade bottle near the pond & a possible shoe impression in the wooded area. 

Meanwhile, police inspected area surveillance videos & found that at 1:24am, the night Tristyn was last seen, video from the Durbin Crossing North Amenities Center showed two subjects walking past the main entrance along the sidewalk. Footage from a neighborhood home showed two people walking east on a sidewalk of Saddlestone Drive toward a pond at approximately 1:45am. One subject was wearing  a light colored hooded sweatshirt & white shoes with a Nike logo. The other subject was significantly shorter than the first (Aiden is 5’11” & Tristyn was 5’4”) & wearing black pants & a black shirt.

At 3:27am the same video showed only the taller subject; they were running west on the same street, back from where they had come from. This person was now seen carrying the Nike shoes. Additional footage from Aiden’s home where he lived with his mom & step-dad showed this person, who was clearly Aiden, carrying the shoes & entering his home at 0332.

Video footage from inside the home showed him go directly to the bedroom on the second floor, then into the adjacent bathroom & exit wearing a bathrobe.

Aiden was interviewed at approximately 8:45pm that evening & present with him was his mom, 35-year-old Crystal Smith & his dad, Jason Fucci. They both made multiple comments, advising Aiden not to speak of any involvement he may have had since the room was being recorded & to wait for their lawyer. Crystal told him that Tristyn was found & he asked, “Is she good?” When he was told that she was dead, his mom told him this was why the interview was important, “It’s all on you right now.” He responded, “How is it my problem?” They explained that he was the last person seen with Tristyn. They asked if he understood that this was a serious situation & he said he did.

Crystal, Aiden’s mom, continued to ask where Tristyn went after she left him & he said that she probably continued to walk. His dad asked why he was out so late & he said they were just hanging out at Tre’s house. He said he kissed Tristyn & when his dad asked if his DNA would be found on her, he didn’t respond. They asked why he was seen on surveillance video carrying his shoes & he said it was because those shoes give him blisters & made his feet hurt. They asked him if anything could be found on the clothes he was wearing from the night before & Aiden said, “I don’t think so, why?” His mom whispered “blood.” They told him to find his story & stick to it. They talked about drug use & he said he was smoking CBD vs. THC; his mom said, “I’m just trying to think if you did something stupid, maybe something made you do it so that would justify it.” Voluntary intoxication is not a defense under Florida law & regardless, Aiden admitted that he wasn’t intoxicated.

They asked about the incident where Aiden allegedly pushed Tristyn; he told his parents that when he did this, she yelled out his name & he just told her to F-off & walked away. They told Aiden that their house was being searched & asked him why his clothes were wet & damp when he got home; he said it was from a cup of water that spilled. When Jason continued to ask why he was wet, he changed his story & said he fell.

Police search of Aiden’s bedroom located the clothing he was seen wearing in the surveillance video which tested positive for blood. In Aiden’s bedroom, they found the sheath belonging to the knife located at the crime scene, multiple items of clothing positive for blood, including a hooded sweatshirt, white Nike shoes, a white short sleeved t-shirt.

Aiden’s mom, Crystal, was arrested on June 6, 2021 with a charge of evidence tampering; she was booked at 12:12pm & released at 1:40pm on $25,000 bond. She was seen on her own home’s surveillance system cleaning her son’s jeans between 12:55pm and 1:28pm, on May 9, 2021, three hours after Tristyn’s parents reported her missing.

The jeans & the sink & drain were both positive for blood. The video showed Crystal go into Aiden’s room after he left voluntarily with deputies; she entered his room, took the jeans & went to the adjacent bathroom to scrub the jeans in the sink. She could be seen inspecting the jeans several times until she returned them to Aiden’s room at approximately 1:28pm.

Crystal Smith

The St Johns County Medical Examiner conducted Tristyn’s autopsy on Monday, May 10th & determined that Tristyn was stabbed 114 times; 35 were to the head & neck. The wounds to her hands indicated she was likely trying to protect her head at the time & 49 defensive wounds to her arms, torso & chest showed that she fought back. Based on the nature of the wounds, it appeared that Aiden had been standing behind her & came at a downward angle. Her left lung was penetrated three times & her right lung once. Her time of death was consistent with occurring between 1:45-3:30 am on May 9th & cause of death was ruled homicide from sharp force trauma. There was no sign of sexual assault. Her left ankle contained the handwritten word “Karma” in blue ink as well as a smiley face drawn on her right ankle. It does not state who was responsible for these.

The murder was deduced to be pre-planned because of the statements Aiden made to Tre & Zofie about wanting to kill someone. It’s not clear if he targeted Tristyn or she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time & with the wrong person.

The murder weapon, Aiden’s knife, was eventually located in a pond 140 feet from where Tristyn’s body was found. The tip of the knife was broken off & according to the medical examiner’s report, was found in Tristyn’s scalp. The knife was a “Buck” brand folding hunting knife described as a Bowie style with a curved, keen point with a double edge for two inches & the knife was confirmed to belong to Aiden. Aiden’s DNA was found on the knife & Tristyn’s DNA was found on a pair of shoes & a t-shirt found in Aiden’s bedroom

According to a December 14, 2022 article, Aiden has spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement. His defense attorneys requested he be moved to a less restrictive environment or a new facility, arguing that this current setting has been damaging to his mental health. He was initially placed in solitary confinement because of suicidal ideations & then due to threats the now 15-year-old has received within the jail. They are also wanting the trial to be moved to an alternate Florida county because they don’t believe that an impartial jury will be selected due to pretrial publicity. Judge Lee denied these requests & Aiden will remain at the Duval County jail for his safety as the jail in St Johns County doesn’t have a juvenile wing. Jury selection will begin on February 6th & is projected to last 3-4 days. 

The community has held at least nine separate memorials & vigils in Tristyn Bailey’s honor with teal or white decorations & ribbons displayed, Tristyn’s favorite colors. To this day, there are teal ribbons in remembrance of Tristyn on mailboxes, businesses & area restaurants. On the one year anniversary of her murder, hundreds of members of the community gathered in remembrance of Tristyn; her cheer teammates wore shirts that read, “We cheer for Tristyn.”  The family is working on a youth mental health program, a community-focused gym with self defense classes & a scholarship program. 

During Tristyn’s celebration of life, her mom spoke, remembering Tristyn’s birth & that her lively personality began early, “she was the loudest one in the nursery.” She spoke of her drive & determination & the close bonds & friendships she had developed through cheer. The Facebook page Tristyn Bailey Strong is run by Tyistyn’s mom & updated at least weekly; in one post, she wrote: We also saw times this week when people wanted to dismiss grief. There is no time frame and quite frankly, I’m not sure if grief ever ends. It takes over your mind, your heart and every cell in your body. We carry Tristyn with us every day and hurt every moment that we are not able to give our love to her. The reality of our lives is so hard to face and there is a void that can never be filled. Tristyn…we miss you so very much. The tears just seem to never stop. What I would give to turn back the hands of time. We love you sweet girl. The family refers to themselves as The Bailey 7 & they encourage everyone to find a moment each day to feed the good wolf, “through acts of kindness & love as a community we can drive out evil together.”


  1. First Coast News: Deputies: Body found in St Johns County believed to be missing 13-year-old girl
  2. First Coast News: New documents detail timeline of events in Tristyn Bailey murder investigation
  3. Law & Crime – A Dan Abrams Production: Latest Tristyn Bailey Stories
  4. News 4 Jax: Judge: Aiden Fucci will stay in Duval County jail, murder trial will stay in St Johns County for now
  5. People: When Told of Tristyn Bailey’s Death, Teen Suspect Allegedly Responded, ‘How Is That My Problem?’
  6. News 4 Jax: Sea of turquoise: Family, friends remember Tristyn Bailey year after her death
  7. First Coast News: One year later: Remembering Tristyn Bailey 
  8. First Coast News: ‘Memories become treasures’ – Family, friends  pay tribute to Tristyn Bailey at ‘Celebration of Life’

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