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A Florida 13-year-old cheerleader who died on Mother’s Day was stabbed 114 times while trying to fend off her killer in what authorities are describing as a “horrific” act of premediated violence by a fellow classmate.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced Thursday that a grand jury has indicted 14-year-old Aiden Fucci of first-degree murder in Tristyn Bailey’s death, after her body was discovered earlier this month near a retention bond in St. John’s County. Fucci will be tried as an adult.
“It’s a sad decision, and a sad state of affairs. But it was clear to us after we looked at what happened, that it was not only appropriate to charge the defendant as an adult, but it was really the only choice that we can make,” Larizza said according to local station WJXT.
Larizza said Bailey died “fighting for her life” after suffering 114 stab wounds. At least 49 of the wounds were to her hands, arms and head and considered defensive in nature.
“We can’t see what happened at this pond but we know there was a struggle,” Larizza said according to WKMG, adding “To say that it was horrific would be an understatement.”
Authorities said the murder weapon was a hunting knife, which was later recovered from the pond. The tip of the knife had broken off and was later recovered inside the 13-year-old’s body, according to the state attorney’s office.
Larizza described the violent act as “premediated” and said multiple witnesses told investigators that before the slaying, Fucci had talked about wanting to kill someone.
“Both witnesses indicated the defendant stated on multiple occasions that he wanted to kill someone by stabbing them or slitting throat,” according to an arrest warrant obtained by WKMG. “The witness provided further testimony that the defendant stated if he were to kill someone, it was going to be planned, he would find a random person walking at night, drag them into the woods, and stab them.”
According to Larizza, Bailey may have just been “at the wrong place at the wrong time” and became her classmate’s unwitting target, according to The Daily Beast.
Bailey’s parents told investigators they saw their daughter just after midnight on May 9, but surveillance camera footage would later capture her walking with a male around 1:14 a.m. that morning near the North Durbin Amenities Center, according to an arrest report obtained by Oxygen.com.
The pair were spotted a second time on surveillance camera footage around 1:45 a.m. walking east on Saddlestone Drive; however, only one person would be seen returning from the location around 3:27 a.m., authorities said.
Bailey’s body was later discovered near the retention pond just east of Saddlestone Drive later that night by a man helping in the search to find the missing teenager. It was discovered just 0.3 miles away from Fucci’s home, according to the report.
During a search of his home, investigators discovered clothes that seemed to match those worn by the male in the surveillance video, some of which tested a “presumptive positive” result for blood, authorities said.
After changing his story several times, Fucci later allegedly told investigators he had been walking with Bailey and he had “forcefully pushed the victim to the ground, causing her head to strike the ground,” according to an affidavit in the case obtained by WJXT.
Larizza said he hoped the “vicious and brutal murder” served as a caution to parents.
“Teenagers are capable of things we never imagined them doing,” he said, adding that parents need to be aware of their children’s activities.
In a statement from Bailey’s family, obtained by Oxygen.com, her parents thanked investigators and state attorney’s office for their efforts “as part of the initial steps to bring justice for Tristyn’s murder.”
They also thanked the community for serving as a “beacon of light in the darkness” in helping to honor the teen’s memory.
“As we move forward, we will seek to keep Tristyn’s memory alive and the spirit of the community,” the family said.
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