x
Breaking News
More () »

Friends mourn murdered teen 'with a beautiful smile and presence'

Tristyn Bailey was a beloved member of the First Coast cheerleading community known for her vibrant personality and dedicated work ethic.

ST JOHNS, Fla — Tristyn Bailey had a "beautiful smile and presence" Tanya White said. White led the coaches that guided Bailey as a cheerleader.

"She always was the first to hug me," White remembered. "She was officially my favorite."

Bailey's friends and neighbors in the Durbin Crossing community are grappling with the news that Bailey, 13, was found dead in the woods Sunday.

RELATED: 14-year-old St. Johns County boy charged with 2nd degree murder in death of 13-year-old girl

Bailey was last seen at the Durbin Crossing North Amenity Center early Sunday morning after midnight. 

Monday people had placed flowers outside of the center with notes to her and her family. 

Credit: Tanya White
Tristyn Bailey, 13-year-old whose body was found in St. Johns County Sunday.

Sunday morning around 10 a.m., Tristyn's family reported her missing. Hours later, a neighbor found her body in the woods, just beyond the end of Saddlestone Drive in the Durbin Crossing neighborhood.

RELATED: Timeline: Here's what led to Aiden Fucci being charged in the death of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey in St. Johns County

"The community helped us solve this case," St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said Monday. "When I say they went to work, they went to work... on social media, and we saw mems walk the woodline in church clothes looking for Tristyn."

Through interviews and information gathering, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office arrested 14-year-old Aiden Fucci. He also lives in the neighborhood, goes to the same school, Patriot Oaks Academy, and was a friend of Bailey's, according to a classmate.

Credit: St. Johns County Sheriff's Office
Aiden Fucci, 14, charged with second degree murder in the death of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey in St. Johns County.

Fucci is charged with second-degree murder.

RELATED: Community organizes vigils for 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey after police find body

Later Monday, dive teams scoured a lake very close to where Bailey’s body was found, less than a mile away. A crime scene truck was also seen at a nearby home where Fucci lived.

The sheriff said the medical examiner was still working today. He did not give any information about who she died or a motive.

Patriot Oaks Academy released the following letter to parents Sunday after learning for Tristyn's passing:

"Dear Parents,

"This has been a difficult day for all of us at Patriot Oaks. One of our 7th grade students has died and our hearts are broken. We want to express our appreciation for the support you showed today and will continue to show the Bailey family as we are faced with this time of intense difficulty.

"To help students and staff manage emotions and process through grief, we will have our district crisis team with multiple school counselors on hand at school tomorrow. Students and staff will react in different ways to a death, so it will be important to have support available to help any who are in need.

"If you feel your child needs assistance or is having a great deal of difficulty coping with this tragedy, please do not hesitate to call the school and let us know. We will do all within our power to help and comfort all in our Charger family. While it is important to deal with grief, loss, anger, and fear reactions, we believe it is essential to resume as normal a routine as possible regarding school activities. With that being said, some of our families may need time to process this loss together and we understand. Please know that we are here to help.

"Thank you for your support of our school as we work together to cope with the loss of our sweet Tristyn. Please observe your child closely over the next several days and weeks to watch for signs of distress, which may indicate a need for additional support and guidance. Please feel free to call if you have any concerns or questions regarding your child, or the steps being taken by the school to address this loss. We are here to help."

The school gave the following websites as guides for parents to help children mourn: