The brutal murder of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey shocked the nation in May 2021. Aiden Fucci, a fellow student and neighbor of Bailey, was arrested and charged with her murder. In February 2023, Fucci changed his plea to guilty just before jury selection was to begin. On Friday, March 24, Judge R. Lee Smith sentenced Fucci to life in prison.
Here’s what happened, that night and in the months afterward.
Who is Tristyn Bailey?
Tristyn Bailey was one of five children of Stacy and Forrest Bailey. She lived in Durbin Crossing in northwest St. Johns County and was a student and cheerleader at Patriot Oaks Academy.
Tristyn Bailey was only a 13 years old seventh grade student at the time of her death, and by all accounts, she was a bright, happy, and well-loved young girl. She was a cheerleader and a student at Patriot Oaks Academy, and her friends and family have described her as someone who brought life to everyone around her. Her death has left a hole in many people’s lives, and the community has rallied around her family in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Who is Aiden Fucci?
Aiden Fucci, on the other hand, was just 14 at the time of the murder. He as a fellow student at Patriot Oaks and lived near Bailey. Fucci’s girlfriend and other friends told investigators that Fucci often talked about killing people and specifically said he planned to drag a random person into the woods and stab them.
While little is known about his life before the crime, friends and family members have reported concerning behaviors, including Fucci’s fascination with knives and violent fantasies. While the records of minors under the age of 18 are sealed, State Attorney for the 7th Circuit R.J. Larizza said Fucci did not have a prior criminal record.
Aiden Sean Fucci, 14 at the time of the killing, How did Tristyn Bailey die?
On the night of her death, a friend said Fucci asked for Bailey’s number, according to police reports. He convinced her to leave home and meet at a friend’s home, and video footage from a residence shows two people believed to be Fucci and Bailey walking east on Saddlestone Drive near the area where her body was later found toward the end of a retention pond.
An autopsy revealed Tristyn had 114 “stab or cutting wounds about her head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and back,” according to an unredacted warrant affidavit released by the State Attorney. At least 49 of them were defensive wounds, the medical examiner said.
What does Aiden Fucci say happened the night Tristyn Bailey died?
In Fucci’s arrest report, he confirmed being with Bailey at a mutual friend’s house and leaving with her at about 1:10 a.m. on May 9, 2021. He said he walked around awhile until getting to his Castledale Court home at about 3:30 a.m.
But an investigator said Fucci kept changing his story. Finally, Fucci said they got into an argument and he pushed Bailey to the ground, where she struck her head.
What was Aiden Fucci charged with?
Fucci was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder in Bailey’s death. The State Attorney’s Office for the 7th Circuit later upgraded the charge to first-degree murder, premeditated, due to the brutality of the crime. Fucci was charged as an adult.
What was the evidence against Fucci?
A buck knife with a missing tip was found in the pond near her body matched a fragment lodged in Bailey’s scalp and was identified as Fucci’s. There is security video and DNA evidence. Also in his home were wet shoes and clothing with blood on them in his room, blood and dirt on the drain by the bathroom sink and wet denim jeans in a laundry basket. An empty knife sheath was found in his room, and a notebook with violent drawings. Cellphone records and emails, Snapchats, recorded phone calls and texts from jail and interviews with friends, family, teachers, and fellow inmates all are further evidence in the case.
Why was Crystal Smith, Aiden Fucci’s mother, arrested?
Video surveillance at the Fucci home the day after the killing captured Crystal Lane Smith, Fucci’s mother, taking a pair of jeans from Fucci’s bedroom into the adjacent bathroom, and the video appears to show her scrubbing the jeans and showing them to another woman whose name was not released.