14-year-old boy charged in girl’s death expected in court

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ST. JOHNS, Fla. (AP) — Classmates, friends and family members gathered for a candlelight vigil in honor of a 13-year-old cheerleader whose body was found in the northeast Florida woods. Authorities said her community pointed to a 14-year-old neighbor in her death.

The juvenile is expected for his first appearance in court to face a second-degree murder charge in the death Sunday of Tristyn Bailey, officials in St. Johns County said.

Tristyn was last seen early Sunday morning at the community center in the Durbin Crossing community south of Jacksonville. The two teens lived in the neighborhood and attended nearby Patriot Oaks Academy, where Tristyn was a cheerleader.

Tanya White, one of her cheer coaches, remembered the teen’s “beautiful smile and presence.”

“She always was the first to hug me,” White said at Monday night’s vigil. “She was officially my favorite.”

Flowers and notes to Tristyn and her family were left outside the community center where she was last seen.

Her parents reported her missing around 10 a.m. on Sunday and a neighbor found Tristyn’s body in a heavily wooded area that evening, St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick said during a news conference on Monday afternoon. Hours later, investigators made an arrest.

“The community helped us solve this case,” Hardwick said, offering few other details about what led them to arrest the teen.

Dive teams searched a lake on Monday, near where her body was found, Jacksonville’s FirstCoast News reported. A crime scene truck also was seen at the home of the teen charged with killing her.

The Associated Press does not generally publish the name of juveniles charged with crimes unless they are charged as adults. The sheriff said that decision has not yet been made.

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