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The family of Tristyn Bailey has broken their silence days after the brutal murder of the 13-year-old who was found stabbed to death on Sunday in Florida.
“I’ve been asked by so many, ‘what can we do to help’ and honestly, nothing will bring her back so our answers have just been open-air,” her sister, Brittney Bailey Russell, wrote in a public Facebook post informing of a GoFundMe page set up in her honor. “Our family has asked for nothing but we have decided with the money that is given, we are going to use it to make memorials for Tristyn.”
Bailey’s body was found near a retention pond in St. John’s County on Sunday night as a search party looked for the missing teenager, who had vanished that morning. She died of "force trauma by stabbing" and her cause of death was ruled by the medical examiner as a homicide, the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Sheriff Rob Hardwick would not tell the public the number of times she was stabbed but called it “horrific.”
In the Facebook post, Bailey’s sister thanked those sending support to the family.
“Her name WILL live on because our baby Bailey was taken far too soon from us,” the post reads. “The gifts, prayers, thoughts, messages, donations, hugs and memories shared have been overwhelming, we cannot believe the boundless outcry of support for Tristyn and our family.”
Authorities have arrested a 14-year-old boy in Bailey’s death and charged him with second-degree murder. Oxygen.com has opted not to identify him at this stage because he is a minor. The teen has not yet entered a plea and is being held without bond in a juvenile detention facility. It’s unclear if the 7th Circuit State Attorney’s Office will opt to try him as an adult.
The teenage suspect sparked outrage after he apparently posted a Snapchat photo of himself in the back of a patrol car, giving a peace sign with his hand. The image included the caption “Hey guys has inybody (sic) seen Tristyn lately.”
St. John County Sheriff’s Office Director Howard Cole confirmed that the photo had been of the teenage suspect.
Investigators quickly zeroed in on the teen suspect, who was a fellow student at Patriot Oaks Academy, where Bailey was a cheerleader, and matched the description of a male who was seen in surveillance video walking with her around 1:14 a.m. on Sunday morning. Investigators also found the clothes the teen had allegedly been wearing in the video at his home, according to the police report. The clothing was tested and returned a “presumptive positive” for blood, authorities said.
St. John County Sheriff’s Office Director Howard Cole told WJXT investigators also collected a substantial amount of other evidence in the case—which he deemed to be “very strong”—primarily at the suspect’s home.
The 14-year-old told police contradicting stories while being questioned, according to a report from First Coast News; this reportedly included admissions of guilt.
The case has prompted social media posts from friends and family who are mourning the 13-year-old but also garnered the attention of internet trolls who have chosen to attack grieving classmates — and even the victim herself. The Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Tuesday regarding social media activity surrounding the case.
“There are a number of accounts however that are using this case to try to gain fame and followers. Please know that these individuals had nothing to do with this incident,” the office said.
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