A 14-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of a 13-year-old girl whose body was found in the woods on Sunday night, less than 12 hours after she went missing.
The boy, who is the main suspect in the case, on Sunday night took a selfie in the back of a police car and posted it on Snapchat with the caption: “hey guys has anybody seen Tristyn lately (sic).” He posted the picture while the hunt for 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey was still on.
Tristyn was last seen at 1:12 am on Sunday, and was reported missing at 10 am by her family. Both Tristyn and the suspect studied at Patriot Oaks Academy at St Johns in Florida.
St Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick told the media that the suspect is “currently in custody charged with second-degree murder.” He added: “This is a long process, we’re in the very early stages of this.” And that “there are no further threats to this case.”
It remains unclear whether the teenager will be charged as a juvenile or an adult. But the police did name him during the press conference.
However, they have confirmed that the Snapchat selfie was part of their investigation.
Tristyn’s body was found on Sunday night near the suspect’s home in the woods. Police said that she was found fully clothed and was wearing a dark top and white cheer skirt. They however did not disclose how she died.
The 14-year-old, meanwhile, was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder.
Soon after she vanished and her family reported her missing, a search party of a dozen volunteers started looking for her around the neighbourhood. It was one of the volunteers who finally found her body at the Durbin Amenity Center in St John’s at 1:15 am. It remains unclear if the suspect was with her and what she was doing there. A GoFundMe page was also set up to support her family in the search. On Monday afternoon, they had raised more than $4000 out of the $20,000 target.
The Durbin Amenity Center in St John’s, which is situated next to a lake, has an outdoor pool and tennis courts. There are woods nearby and Tristyn’s body was found there.
Sheriff Hardwick told News4Jax: “Justice is being served, but we know the community is angry.”
The state attorney’s office, in a statement to the media on Monday afternoon, said: “As Sheriff Hardwick stated in his press conference today, our office will continue to investigate the case to determine both the appropriate charges going forward, and whether or not (the suspect) will be charged as an adult.”
Tristyn was a seventh-grader who was on her school’s cheerleader squad, local news outlet WJXT-TV reported. Her coach, Courtney Sparks, told the media: “She is just the most cheerful, most spirited friendliest person. [She] is down to basically do whatever really to like help unite the team. Whatever it takes for like the team to get to the next level, she’s the person to like help push the team forward.”
Tristyn’s father had posted a message on Facebook, saying: “For everyone that is trying to help find our daughter we cannot thank you enough.”
The suspect is expected to go before Circuit Judge Michael Orfinger about 8:30 am on Tuesday for a detention hearing at the Volusia County Regional Detention Center.