13-Year-Old Cheerleader Tristyn Bailey Was Stabbed to Death in 'Cold-Blooded Murder,' Sheriff Says

A 14-year-old boy has been arrested in connection to the killing

Tristyn Bailey
Tristyn Bailey. Photo: sjso

The cause of death for Tristyn Bailey — the 13-year-old cheerleader who was found dead on Sunday, hours after she went missing in St. Johns County, Fla. — has been determined.

Tristyn died of "force trauma by stabbing" and her cause of death was ruled by the medical examiner as a homicide, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office announced on Tuesday.

"We will continue to investigate this case fully and will begin transitioning this case to the State's Attorney Office," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

In an interview with local news outlet WJXT, Sheriff Robert Hardwick described Tristyn's death as a "cold-blooded murder."

"That being said, I don't wanna mention the number of times [Tristyn was stabbed], but it is horrific. It is horrible," Hardwick said. "And the word accident is nowhere involved in this case."

Tristyn Bailey
Tristyn Bailey. Courtesy Tanya White

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Tristyn was last seen shortly after midnight on Sunday in her Durbin Crossing neighborhood. She was found dead in a remote wooded area at about 6 p.m. by a local resident after authorities had put out a missing person alert.

A 14-year-old suspect — whom PEOPLE is not identifying because he is a minor — was arrested this week in connection to Tristyn's death, Hardwick announced during a press conference on Monday.

The teen suspect is currently 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 said at the time. "We can always increase the charge."

A spokesperson for the 7th Circuit State Attorney's Office tells PEOPLE that the office has not yet determined if he will be charged as an adult.

Tristyn Bailey
Tristyn Bailey. gofundme

According to Hardwick, both Tristyn and the suspect attended Patriot Oaks Academy, a public K-8 school about a mile from where the seventh grader went missing.

In a Tuesday morning detention hearing held via Zoom, a judge ordered the teen suspect be held in juvenile custody for at least 21 days. The boy did not speak in court, and his attorney did not immediately return a message for comment.

The suspect has not yet entered a plea.

In the wake of Tristyn's death, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up in support of her family. As of Tuesday night, the fundraiser has surpassed its $20,000 goal.

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