ST. JOHNS, Fla. – Tristyn Bailey is being remembered as a student, athlete, friend, daughter and sister.
Bailey, 13, was reported missing Sunday and found dead hours later in her St. Johns County neighborhood.
A schoolmate at Patriot Oaks Academy, 14-year-old Aiden Fucci, was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder in connection with her death.
Bailey was in seventh grade. A day after she was found dead, students at Patriot Oaks Academy and neighboring Durbin Creek Elementary were encouraged to wear white in her memory. In a show of solidarity and grief for Bailey’s family, neighbors tied aqua-colored ribbons around their mailboxes, as it was her favorite color.
The teenage girl was an athlete and well-known in the cheer sport community, which is remembering her for her bright smile and big personality. She was on two cheer squads.
Courtney Sparks, Bailey’s cheer coach at Patriot Oaks Academy, described her as a caring young lady who was a natural leader.
“She is just the most cheerful, most spirited, friendliest person, 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,” Sparks said.
For the past year, Bailey also cheered at Infinity Allstars, which posted this message on social media:
“It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the passing of our beloved athlete and friend, Tristyn Bailey.
“We ask for our Infinity family to pray for comfort, strength and understanding for Tristyn’s family and all of the athletes from our gym. This is just absolutely devastating for everyone who knew and loved her.
“We will be sending out further communication soon of how we can assist the Bailey family during this very difficult time.”
“Tristyn was extremely bubbly. She was friendly to everyone. She was the life of the party,” said Tracie Hartkemeyer, the gym owner. “She could make a bad situation better, a bad practice -- she rallied. Told everybody let’s do it again.”
One week ago, Bailey traveled to the ESPN sports complex in Orlando for a Summit cheer competition with her team. No one thought it would ever be her last.
A friend of Bailey’s said they were in the same tumbling class.
“She’s grown so much as a tumbler this year. She’s just always motivated to work harder,” the friend said. “She always has a smile on her face, always lighting up, always has a positive mindset and positive words towards others.”
Another friend of Bailey’s told News4Jax: “She’s a really nice, sweet girl and she’s strong and she’s a great athlete.”
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the last time Bailey’s family saw her was about 12 a.m. Sunday. An hour and 15 minutes later, the Sheriff’s Office said, Bailey was last seen on surveillance video walking by the North Durbin Amenities Center in the Durbin Crossing neighborhood in northwest St. Johns County.
About 10 a.m., the Sheriff’s Office said, Bailey’s family reported her missing. Less than an hour later, the Sheriff’s Office posted a message on social media asking for information about her whereabouts.
Shortly before 5 p.m., the Florida Department of Law Enforcement activated a Missing Child Alert for Bailey.
Just over an hour later, her body was found in a wooded area by a neighbor.
The next day, Sheriff Robert Hardwick announced Fucci’s arrest.
On Tuesday, investigators revealed Bailey had been stabbed to death.