13-year-old Tristyn Bailey‘s body has been found less than one day after her reported appearance.
The cheerleader who went missing in St. Johns County, Florida, this past weekend was seen shortly after midnight on Sunday in her Durbin Crossing neighborhood.
Her body was discovered in a remote, wooded area around 6 p.m. by a local resident after authorities alerted the surrounding areas of a missing person.
A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection to Tristyn’s death according to Sheriff Robert Hardwick.
“We have a suspect arrested and, unfortunately, a 13-year-old girl dead,” he said.
The suspect — a minor who is not charged as an adult — attended Patriot Oaks Academy with Tristyn, but their relationship is still unclear. Currently, he is being held on one count of second-degree murder by the Department of Juvenile Justice.
“That’s actually a decision we made collectively … with the State Attorney’s Office,” Hardwick informed reporters at a press conference this past Monday. “We can always increase the charge.”
A spokesperson for the 7th Circuit State Attorney’s Office revealed how officials are working on determining if the suspect will be charged as an adult. Hardwick also noted that an investigation is ongoing as there are “multiple crime scenes.”
A cause of death has not been released yet.
“This is not an easy process,” Hardwick said. “We have a person charged with a serious crime. We have a family grieving the loss of a loved one — a child.”
Tristyn was last seen around 1:15 a.m. at the Durbin Amenity Center wearing a white cheerleading skirt and a dark-colored shirt. Hardwick said the teen was found fully clothed, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Tristyn was a seventh-grader who was on her school’s cheer squad.
“She is just the most cheerful, most spirited friendliest person,” her coach, Courtney Sparks, said of Tristyn. “[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.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up in support of her family. As of midday Wednesday, it has exceeded its original goal.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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