The Florida teenager accused of murdering 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey earlier this month stabbed the cheerleader a staggering 114 times as she fought for her life, then dumped her body in a wooded area, authorities said Thursday.
Aiden Fucci, 14, will now be charged as an adult with first-degree murder for Bailey’s brutal slaying in the early morning of May 9, St. Johns County State Attorney R.J. Larizza announced Thursday.
“You’ve heard our victim was stabbed....to say it was horrific was an understatement,” Larizza said during a Thursday press conference. “There were 114 stab wounds.”
The young girl died “fighting for her life,” he added.
Fucci may have randomly chosen Bailey as his victim, as he told other teenagers he planned to kill someone within the month, the prosecutor said. “This could simply be a wrong place at the wrong time situation,” Larizza said.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office says Bailey’s family reported her missing at 10 a.m on May 10, prompting a frantic countywide search that ended eight hours later when investigators recovered the seventh grader’s clothed body in a wooded area near a retention pond on a street close to where she was last seen.
Larizza said that the night of the murder, Fucci told people “he intended to kill someone by taking them in the woods and stabbing them.”
The Daily Beast did not initially identify Fucci, who was originally charged with second-degree murder, because prosecutors had not decided whether to charge him as an adult. Online court records show a Thursday notice to transfer Fucci’s case to adult court and assign it to Judge R. Lee Smith after he was indicted by a grand jury.
The news of his upgraded charges was first reported by ActionNewJax.
According to an arrest report, Bailey’s family last saw the Patriot Oaks Academy cheerleader at around midnight on May 9. An hour later, home surveillance footage near the Durbin North Amenity Center showed Bailey and Fucci walking together, at one point heading “east on Saddlestone Drive.”
Larizza said that while investigators have not determined a motive, he confirmed Bailey’s encounter with Fucci “started out as kids hanging out.” He added that there’s no evidence anyone else was involved in the grisly crime.
At around 3:30 a.m, another video shows Fucci walking alone on Saddlestone Drive and “carrying a pair of white shoes with a black ‘Nike’ logo,” the report states.
During the frantic search for Bailey the next morning, police brought in Fucci for questioning as a witness. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to The Daily Beast that around the same time, Fucci posted a selfie on social media in a patrol car with the caption, “Hey guys has anybody seen Tristyn lately?”
Under questioning, the arrest report states Fucci changed his story several times and made several admissions that led cops to charge him.
Police later found clothing in the boy’s bedroom that tested positive for blood, the arrest report said. After finding Bailey’s body, police discovered she had been left only “0.3 miles” from where Fucci lived.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Predrag Bulic later concluded that Bailey’s homicide was caused by a “sharp force trauma by stabbing.”
Larizza said Thursday that about 49 of the defensive stab wounds Bailey suffered were to the hands, arms, and face. He added that witnesses identified a knife that was found in a pond as belonging to Fucci. The knife’s tip had broken off and was later found in Bailey’s skull. The medical examiner said the blood on the weapon matched the victim's.
“Teenagers are capable of things we never imagined them doing,” Larizza added, warning parents in his community to keep tabs on their children.
Both Tristyn and Fucci attended Patriot Oaks Academy in St. Johns, though police said it was unclear how they knew each other or if they were in the same class.