A 14-year-old Florida boy was charged Thursday with first-degree murder, accused of stabbing 13-year-old classmate Tristyn Bailey 114 times and leaving her mutilated body in a wooded area earlier this month.
In announcing that Aiden Fucci would be charged as an adult, R.J. Larizza, state attorney for the 7th Circuit, described a premeditated act during a news conference at the St. Johns County courthouse.
“At least 49 of those stab wounds were to the hands, arms and the head. They were defensive in nature,” Larizza said.
He added, “The bottom line is that premeditation could be inferred certainly from just the sheer number of stab wounds that Tristyn Bailey had to suffer. Every time that arm went back, and every time that arm went down, that was premeditation.”
Because Fucci has been charged as an adult, the USA TODAY Network is naming him even though he is a juvenile.
Premeditation was also indicated by statements Fucci reportedly made to witnesses in the weeks leading up to the murder that he “intended to kill someone by taking them in the woods and stabbing them,” Larizza said.
Asked if Fucci was suffering from mental health issues or receiving counseling, Larizza said no.
Bailey, a student at Patriot Oaks Academy, was found dead on May 9 in a wooded area near her home in northwest St. Johns County, near Jacksonville.
Clothing with traces of blood was found in Fucci’s home. The presumed weapon, a buck knife typically used for hunting, was recovered in a pond near the crime scene.
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Fucci, who has been held at a juvenile detention center since his arrest, was in the process of being transferred to an adult facility on Thursday, Larizza said. As a minor, however, he will be separated from the adult population.
In the weeks since Bailey’s death, people across St. Johns County and beyond have mourned her death and sought to comfort her family and seek justice.
An avid cheerleader, Bailey was remembered for her bright personality.
People have tied teal ribbons to mail boxes and light posts and organized fundraisers in Bailey’s memory. Some also had started a petition to have Fucci charged as an adult.
Thousands gathered to remember Bailey at Celebration Church in Jacksonville on May 18.
A community mourns:Tristyn Bailey remembered as someone who brought ‘life to everyone around her’
The Bailey family released a statement after Thursday’s news conference, recognizing the work of the sheriff’s office and state attorney’s office while thanking people in the community for their support.
“Particularly for those in St. Johns that have helped from the Mother’s Day search, the vigils, remembrances and memorials. With the press conference sharing details of this heinous crime, the caring and love shown from the people and businesses to raise up the memory of Tristyn and the resolve of our community serve as a beacon of light in the darkness,” the family said. “As shared in the Celebration of Life on the battle of the two wolves, it helps us to feed the good wolf. … We do ask for your continued respect for our privacy as well as of Tristyn’s teammates and her school. As we move forward, we will seek to keep Tristyn’s memory alive and the spirit of the community.”
Asked about a possible motive, Larizza said, “We’re still working and investigating this case.”
Sheriff reacts:Tristyn Bailey’s death was the ‘horrific, brutal murder of a 13-year-old child’
Larizza declined to answer questions at the news conference about any evidence of sexual assault in the case — whether Fucci or Bailey had any kind of romantic relationship; if the victim may have been restrained in any way; or if there was any evidence of Fucci actively attempting to target any other female for assault.
“This simply could have been the case of the the wrong place, the wrong time here,’ Larizza said in referring to the situation in which the victim found herself in.
While the records of minors under the age of 18 are sealed, Larizza said Fucci did not have a prior criminal record.