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‘Poker,’ blackmail and fear: The damning evidence that left Aiden Fucci little choice but to plead guilty

Aiden Fucci appears in an intake photo on the day of his arrest

Aiden Fucci appears in an intake photo on the day of his arrest for the murder of Tristyn Bailey.

In early 2021, Tristyn Bailey’s body was discovered in the woods of Durbin Crossing, a residential community, about 80 feet off the southern end of a retention pond at 4286 Racetrack Road in St. Johns, Fla., according to police reports and court documents. She was found on Mother’s Day after being reported missing by her parents just hours before.

On Monday, the teenage classmate who killed her finally confessed to the crime.

Spanning nearly 240 pages, the redacted investigatory reports compiled by sheriff’s deputies and other investigators working the 13-year-old girl’s murder offer a disturbing and incomplete portrait of recently admitted murderer Aiden Fucci, 16.

That sprawling law enforcement document, a prismatic collection of sides to the story, does not contain a grand narrative for why the girl had to die. Such efforts would have fallen on the shoulders of the state’s attorney’s office. Monday’s eleventh-hour confession and plea leaves, at least for now, just the prior investigative record – shining a dull light on the yawning abyss; 114 stab wounds that took a beloved cheerleader from her family and friends nearly two years ago.

Those hundreds of pages offer some minor answers; pose some major questions; and contain myriad shocking, lurid, and gruesome details about the events and young lives leading up to the Mother’s Day weekend when Tristyn Bailey died fighting for her life.

Here are a few key allegations contained in those reports.

1. Aiden’s knives “picker” and “poker.”

The defendant and his family owned several knives of various types.

At least two of Fucci’s and Bailey’s mutual acquaintances described two of those knives the admitted killer regularly kept on him, which he had nicknamed “picker” and “poker” based on their respective blades.

An interview with Fucci’s ex-girlfriend Zofie Bauman notes:

Zofie stated Aiden mainly carried two different knives. One of which his step-dad gave him, she described as grey and black with a skull on it and he called it “picker” because it had a serrated blade. The other knife she described as yellow, made out of wood, and he called it “Poker”.

According to law enforcement, “poker” was the knife used to kill Bailey – and was found in the retention pond near where Bailey’s body was discovered. Meanwhile, “picker” was recovered from Bauman’s residence by law enforcement in the days after the murder.

An interview with schoolmate Ryan Sturm offers similar details:

Ryan described one knife as brown and gold in color and stated that Aiden referred to it as “poker.” I showed Ryan a picture of the Buck knife recovered from the retention pond and Ryan identified this knife as one in the same.

Ryan state Aiden had another knife, which he described as camo with half serrated blade and half slick. Ryan stated Aiden referred to this knife as “picker.” Ryan stated “picker” was broken and doesn’t close. I showed Ryan a picture of the knife recovered from Zofie’s residence and he identified this knife as one in the same.

SEE ALSO: ‘I’m Going to Get Arrested’: Trove of Prosecution Evidence Exhibits Released on Eve of Aiden Fucci Murder Trial

2. Blackmail allegations and secrets.

Investigators also spoke with Shyla Holmes, described by multiple witnesses in police reports as Bailey’s “best friend” and “close friend.”

Holmes told police that Bailey had a sexual relationship with a boy named Doffis “Tre” Absher, but that they “were more like friends with benefits and didn’t really talk to each other in school.”

One of those alleged sexual encounters is believed to have been captured on video – and then used against Bailey by the defendant.

“Shyla stated Tre had video of him and Tristyn having sex and he had facetimed Aiden while doing it,” the report reads. “Aiden screen recorded the entire thing and had begun blackmailing her with the video, showing seventh and eighth grade students the video.”

The immediately next line in the report reads: “Shyla stated no one, including Tre, knew about Tristyn and Aiden having sex but her.”

Caleb Montanez, one of Fucci’s friends who had recently moved to the area at the time of the murder, told police the defendant was jealous and believed that Zofie Bauman had cheated on him with Absher.

From the report at length:

Caleb stated Aiden was a jealous person. Caleb described one incident where Aiden was FaceTimeing [sic] with Doffis “Tre” and Aiden observed Zofie come out of the closet. Caleb explained after Aiden and Zofie “do it”, Zofie goes into the closet to change, therefore, Aiden thought Doffis “Tre” and Zofie had sex. Caleb stated Aiden was pissed and stated “dude I hope this kid isn’t fucking my girl.”

3. Tristyn was afraid of the law when she died.

Bailey’s family shared screenshots of messages they received with law enforcement of a piece with the idea that the victim feared she might have been in legal jeopardy when she was killed.

One screenshot was from an unidentified parent who said her son’s “friend was saying Tristan [sic] told her she’d done something she was afraid was illegal” and that Holmes might know something about it.

Another screenshot from a girl identified as Courtney Howard said she was one of Bailey’s “friends from school.”

That screenshot reads, in relevant part:

i’m one of tristyns friends from school. on friday we were sharing secrets in homeroom and she said that she wasn’t going to tell ms. mccullough because she didn’t know if what she did was illegal or not. she said it had involved some people she didn’t like and wouldn’t tell us who. i think shyla holmes might know what she did but because shyla is one of tristyns close friends, she wouldn’t tell us either. she had asked me if she could stay at my house if she needed too and i haven’t heard from her since.

Holmes, for her part, told police that she told Bailey her parents wouldn’t allow her to stay with them if she ran away, but that she gave her address out “in case anything happened and she needed somewhere to go.”

“Detective Peluso advised she was informed of additional information that Tristyn may have been involved in an illegal activity, was afraid she would be caught, and wanted to run away,” the report adds later.

But what was that allegedly illegal thing, the victim was so scared of?

Three additional answers from Holmes may offer some bare insight:

Shyla stated Tristyn had “graffitied” the “North sign” and was worried she would get in trouble. Shyla stated Tristyn tried to cover up what was written and scribbled it out. Shyla stated Tristyn, Aiden, and Tre planned on having a “threesome” but wasn’t sure if it happened.

4. Aiden was a “numb kid” who “snaps easy.”

Holmes told police that in school, Fucci’s eyes were “glossy” and had “no meaning to them.”

“The textbook definition of what you would call a numb kid,” Bailey’s best friend said of the “bad kid” who is now an admitted murderer. “He has no feelings towards anyone, no feelings towards himself. He is the type of person you would see as a murderer. He just doesn’t care.”

Asked to account for why Fucci might have killed Bailey, two mutual friends commented on the defendant’s anger issues.

According to the report, Montantez told police that he and Absher “were thinking about why Aiden would do this and the two of them thought Aiden and Tristyn had sex and afterwards Tristyn threatened to tell Zofie which led to Aiden snapping.”

“Because he snaps easy,” Fucci’s friend added.

Montanez also said Absher told him “Aiden cheated on Zofie a lot.”

5. Aiden allegedly had troubles at home – and a plan to kill again.

Bauman said Fucci “had a lot of issues” and “was having a really tough time at home” when he killed Bailey.

The defendant’s ex-girlfriend relayed the following to a detective:

Zofie stated Aiden would tell her his mom would tell him he was a disappointment to her family and he felt neglected by her.

Zofie stated Aiden felt neglected by both of his parents and he was the least favorite in his family.

Zofie stated Aiden told her sometimes his Dad (Jason Fucci) would hit him and his Dad never let him show emotions.

Zofie stated Aiden had a better relationship with his Dad than his Mom.

Zofie stated Aiden had anger issues and he really hated getting angry.

“Zofie advised Aiden stated this murder was going to happen soon, and she should expect it within the month,” the interview record goes on. “Zofie advised Aiden stated he would act innocent after the murder and continue killing people. Zofie advised Aiden would then run away, make people believe he was dead, and continue killing people.”

In June 2021, Fucci’s mother Crystal Smith was accused of evidence tampering by washing her son’s bloody jeans after the murder. That case against Smith remains pending.

In addition to the details in the lengthy incident report, which you can read here, authorities previously revealed that there was video evidence of the suspect and victim walking together before the murder.

[Image via Florida State Attorney’s Office]

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