ST. JOHNS, Fla. – While revealing on Thursday the grim details investigators have uncovered in the death of Tristyn Bailey, State Attorney R.J. Larizza said he hoped parents will learn something from what he called a “vicious and brutal murder.”
Aiden Fucci, the 14-year-old initially charged with second-degree murder in Bailey’s death, is now being tried as an adult for first-degree murder. Larizza revealed that the medical examiner determined Bailey was stabbed 114 times.
“The bottom line is that premeditation could be inferred, certainly from just the sheer number of stab wounds that Tristyn Bailey had to suffer,” Larizza said. “Every time that arm went down, that was premeditation.”
Larizza said investigators also learned from witnesses that Fucci made “statements to several people that he was going to kill someone.”
“He didn’t say who that was, but he indicated to witnesses that he was going to kill someone by taking them in the woods and stabbing them, which are certainly the facts of this case,” Larizza said.
The state attorney said he found it “disturbing and concerning” that the statements were not taken seriously by those who heard them.
“I’m not saying that this could have been avoided, but I’m saying that it was never reported beforehand,” Larizza said.
He continued, “I hope that parents will learn something from this, this vicious and brutal murder, and that is that you need to know what your kids are doing and what they are saying. Because while we might not be able to stop these brutal and vicious murders from happening, we ought to at least try.”
Dr. Justin D’Arienzo, a Jacksonville forensic psychologist, says comments like the ones that are being reported are red flags that shouldn’t go ignored.
“One of the most important signs to look out for is somebody warning or telling or bragging about doing something like murdering and killing or committing some crime,” D’Arienzo said.
D’Arienzo says if a teenager has a new fascination with weapons, hurting people or animals -- those are all signs that they could be violent.
“Or they become very rageful, seem frustrated or controlling or there’s a theme of committing a crime or hurting someone that needs to rise to attention to adults and friends,” he said.
D’Arienzo pointed out that teenagers have a different mentality from adults.
“Teens very much live in the moment,” he said. “This is why when these teens commit crimes, they’re often telling people about it or they’re posting about what they’re going to do. It’s much different from what adults typically do.”
Speaking to your children, teens about Bailey’s death
D’Arienzo says it’s best to talk with your children about what happened to Bailey, pointing out that because of social media, they likely already know.
“They probably know more than you,” D’Arienzo said.
D’Arienzo has four children of his own, ages 12 to 17, who first brought to his attention the grim details revealed Thursday about Bailey’s death.
His children found out by talking with friends on social media.
“When this crime was committed, my 15-year-old daughter at night had me check her closet to make sure there were no bad guys in there, because she was following the story,” D’Arienzo said.
He said you can allow your children to steer the conversation while you fill in the gaps and answer their questions. He said there’s no need to share graphic details, like what type of weapon was used.
D’Arienzo explains, above all, to reiterate throughout the conversation that your child is safe.
“They need to know that this is rare and they are safe,” he said.