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A Florida teen suspected of killing a 13-year-old girl posted a disturbing message on Snapchat moments after he was taken into custody.
The 14-year-old boy, who Oxygen.com has opted not to identity at this stage due to his age, has been charged with the second-degree murder of Tristyn Bailey after her body was discovered in a remote wooded area Sunday night.
In the unsettling post, the teen can be seen unhandcuffed in the back of a patrol car, making a peace sign with his hand. “Hey guys has inybody (sic) seen Tristyn lately,” reads the caption, according to local station WJXT.
St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick said in a press conference announcing the charges against the 14-year-old that investigators were aware of the post.
“Our real time intelligence center really has captured all these videos as best we can. We monitor it,” he said.
Bailey disappeared in the early morning hours Sunday.
Her family told authorities they last saw her “just after midnight,” Hardwick said. However, according to a Twitter post from the sheriff’s office, the teen was later spotted at the North Durbin Amenity Center around 1:15 a.m.
When she didn’t return home, her family reported her missing around 10 a.m. the next morning, sparking a massive search for the teen on Mother’s Day. Hardwick said some moms in the community even joined in on the search still wearing their church clothes.
“The community helped us solve this case,” he said. “When I say they went to work, they went to work.”
Just hours later, around 6 p.m., Bailey’s body was found by a man searching a wooded area near his home.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Predrag Bulic has concluded Bailey died from sharp force trauma by stabbing, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office obtained by Oxygen.com.
Surveillance footage from the North Durbin Amenities Center allegedly captured two people matching the description of the suspect and Bailey walking north around 1:14 a.m. that morning, according to an arrest report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Two individuals were captured on another surveillance camera around 1:45 a.m. walking east on Saddlestone Drive; however, only one person was spotted returning around 3:27 a.m., authorities said.
Bailey’s body was found on the south end of a retention pond located just east of Saddlestone Drive with “significant injury” to her head.
She had been wearing black pants and a black shirt—matching the clothing seen on the surveillance footage.
Investigators quickly turned their attention to the teen suspect, who they brought in for questioning.
Although his story “changed several times” authorities said he also made “several admissions,” according to the report.
After executing a search warrant at his home, which was just 0.3 miles from the location where Bailey’s body had been found, they recovered “several items of evidentiary value,” including clothes that appear to match those seen on the surveillance footage and which tested a “presumptive positive” for blood, authorities said.
Bailey and the teenage suspect had both been students at Patriot Oaks Academy in St. Johns.
Hardwick declined to release further details of the case citing the ongoing investigation.
“We’re trying not to release too much information because we still have tips that have not been worked,” he said at the press conference Monday. “This is in the first 24, 48 hours of this investigation. These men and women have been up all night long in the criminal investigation division trying to follow these leads up, but we are not done.”
He added that there were “lots of witnesses” with direct or indirect involvement in the case, but declined to say whether any may have witnessed the violence.
“There’s multiple crime scenes involved,” he said.
Hardwick said the state attorney’s office will decide whether to charge the teen as an adult in the case after consulting with investigators and the Bailey’s family.
The teen, who is currently being held in the juvenile detention facility, appeared to fight back tears during his first court appearance Tuesday morning, according to WJXT.
Hardwick said that while he knows the “tight-knit” community of St. Johns is “angry,” he urged residents to let the investigative process proceed so that justice can be achieved in the case.
“Let this case go through the process and go through the system,” he said.
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