On Sunday May 9th, 2021, Tristyn Bailey was a 13-year-old cheerleader at Patriot Oaks Academy that everyone described as being a wonderful person and a role model to her peers. Tristyn was last seen around the midnight between Saturday and Sunday by her family. After failing to locate her in the morning, Tristyn’s family reported her missing at 10:00 a.m. and police began the search.
As part of their investigation, local police pulled surveillance footage in her Durbin Crossing neighborhood in St. John, Florida. This footage first showed two teenagers, one assumed to be Tristyn, near the North Amenity Center at 1:15 a.m., around an area of the neighborhood that has a community pool, gym, and playground. At 1:45 a.m., the teenagers were seen walking East down Saddlestone Drive. Less than 2 hours later at 3:27 a.m., only one of the two teenagers were spotted walking down the road holding a pair of shoes.
A 14-year-old boy who lives in the same Durbin Crossing neighborhood and goes to Patriot Oaks Academy was questioned in an attempt to locate Tristyn or identify the teenagers on the video. In the beginning he was cooperative and made admissions during his initial statement. He repeatedly changed his story throughout his interaction with police. When his mother asked why he was carrying his shoes, he simply stated that his feet hurt.
Around 6 p.m. a resident of the neighborhood found Tristyn’s body at the South end of a retention pond in the woods behind the houses at the end of the Saddlestone Drive cul-de-sac. After the discovery of her body and the investigation going from a missing person’s case to a murder investigation, Fucci stopped cooperating. While in custody in the back seat of the Deputy’s cruiser, Fucci took a selfie while giving the peace sign and posted it to Snapchat with the caption “Hey guys has inybody seen Tristyn lately”. The police are aware of this social media activity and have submitted it as evidence.
Tristyn’s body was found fully clothed. The manner of death was not immediately released, but the State’s Attorney’s Office initially stated that Tristyn was stabbed more than once, with the police expressing that they will not disclose the number of times but would say that it was “horrific”. Significant injury to her head and other trauma was also noted. After review by the medical examiner it was released that Tristyn was stabbed 114 times, with 49 of the injuries being defensive wounds to her arms and hands indicating that she put up an courageous fight. The tip of a blade was found embedded in Tristyn’s scalp.
Armed with evidence gathered during their investigation, local authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for Fucci’s home and surrounding areas. A foldable Buck knife was located in a retention pond behind Fucci’s home by divers. Inside of the residence, police found a bloody shirt and shoes that belong to Fucci. The discovered clothing match the clothing seen on the surveillance video.
Aiden Fucci was arrested Sunday evening, May 9th, 2021, the same day as the crime was committed. On Monday, Fucci was charged with Second Degree Murder. While the Judge read the charges to Aiden Fucci, he stated that he is being charged with second degree murder or “murder committed with a depraved mind but without premeditation”. On May 27th after a Grand Jury meeting, Fucci’s charge was upgraded to first degree murder. This means Fucci will be tried as an adult. If convicted, this charge typically holds a 25 to life sentence. Do to his age, his case will likely be eligible for review at 25 years old. This case is still developing, and the summary will be updated as more details emerge.
On May 5th, 2020, 9-year-old Jadalee Pagan was brutally attacked by a family friend, Jah’Sean Hodge in Saint Cloud, Florida. Jadalee’s mother, Veronica Snyder, calls Jah’Sean Hodge Jadalee’s uncle, although there is no relation. Minutes after the attack, police made contact with Jah’Sean Hodge where he refused to obey orders to stop, shouted to shoot him multiple times, and rushed an officer who ended up shooting and killing him as he tried to retreat after the taser proved ineffective. While Jadalee Pagan was still too injured to speak while in the children’s ICU, her mother spoke to news stations and said that police had shot the wrong person. She stated that Jah’Sean Hodge was attempting to protect Jadalee from an unseen intruder and was injured during the incident. She continued by saying that “he saved his niece’s life” and that he was a hero.
This response led to a public outcry despite all evidence pointing to Jah’Sean as the only perpetrator in the attack. When Jadalee became well enough to speak, she named Jah’Sean and only Jah’Sean as her attacker while still in the ICU. After this, Jadalee’s mother changed her opinion and made a statement saying “we finally got answers, and I have a lot to accept, but I just want to say that St. Cloud Police Department did their job. Let’s just not make this any worse than it is”.
Additionally, DNA evidence from the knife and barbell used to stab and bludgeon Jadalee, blood on Jah’Sean’s shirt, and skin under Jadalee’s fingernails all pointed to Jah’Sean being the only attacker. Jadalee has survived the attack and has recovered well.
Jadalee did not grow up with her mom, Veronica Snyder, since she was incarcerated in 2012 shortly after Jadalee was born. She was released in September of 2018. Even at the time of the incident, Veronica Snyder typically stayed in her boyfriend’s apartment downstairs while her two children, mother, and brother lived in the upstairs apartment. Jah’Sean Hodge, who Veronica Snyder calls her brother, though is of no blood relation, did not live upstairs with Jadalee but did stay there sometimes according to Veronica’s mother. He was a close friend of the family.
On May 5th, 2020, Veronica’s mother left to go to Walmart with Veronica’s brother, who was dropping her off there. Before she left the house, 21-year-old Jah’Sean took a shower, and was last seen on the floor by the TV with 9-year-old Jadalee. They both were on their phones. As far as Veronica’s mother could tell, everything was normal, including Jah’Sean’s behavior. Minutes after she left, Veronica’s boyfriend heard a scream from upstairs while in his downstairs apartment. Hearing a commotion wasn’t unusual living in an apartment building that housed several children. Veronica’s boyfriend jokingly said, “who screams like that?”, to which he was told that it was probably Jadalee mad at a game. After walking to his kitchen, he heard a second scream that sounded aggressive and like a man “in rage”. From the downstairs apartment with her boyfriend, Veronica then heard Jah’Sean say “Oh my God” while running down the stairs. Upon looking out the window, she witnessed him running south down their road.
Veronica and her boyfriend ran up to the upstairs apartment to investigate the noises and found Jadalee covered in blood on the living room floor. Veronica’s boyfriend told a neighbor to call 911 and also called himself. His call came into emergency dispatchers first at 12:43 P.M., and the neighbor’s call came in less than a minute afterwards, about 10 or 15 minutes after Veronica’s mother left to go to Wal-Mart. On Veronica’s boyfriend’s 911 call he can be heard pleading for an ambulance and states that he is not sure what happened but that the child is bleeding from her head and needs immediate help. On the neighbor’s 911 call, the neighbor went upstairs to the apartment and relayed to dispatchers that there was a knife involved. As Veronica’s brother was nearing the apartment building after dropping off their mother at Wal-Mart, he receives a call from Veronica telling him that Jadalee is bleeding. When he arrived, he saw Veronica holding Jadalee’s bloody body, took her from Veronica, and loaded her into the car to go to the hospital. On the way to the hospital, the car used to transport Veronica and Jadalee was stopped by police where Saint Cloud Police Department first got confirmation that Jadalee had definitely been stabbed and was bleeding profusely from her neck.
When they arrived at Saint Cloud Regional Medical Center, a patient access employee heard Veronica and her brother yelling for help saying that Jadalee had been stabbed. A paramedic who was doing screenings for COVID 19 outside of the hospital’s emergency department transported Jadalee from the vehicle into the hospital and noted that blood was “bubbling” out of Jadalee’s neck and overheard Veronica and her mother talking about an “uncle” that wasn’t related to them possibly being responsible. Once inside the hospital, a nurse heard Veronica’s mother state “you know he was going to do this” to Veronica, but who she was talking about was not said. Because of the severity of Jadalee’s injuries, she was transported to Arnold Palmer Hospital and was admitted into the children’s ICU. There, she continued to receive treatment and surgeries for her injuries, and it was noted that a “J” was carved into her forehead. Veronica was not able to stay with Jadalee because of COVID 19 precautions. Instead, she made appearances on local news where she said that Jah’Sean was actually a victim of the attack by an unknown perpetrator and was running erratically covered in blood trying to find the person who attacked him and Jadalee.
When police went to the house where the incident happened, they found blood on the main door to the apartment building, the stairs and wall leading up to the apartment, both sides of the apartment door, on the carpet in front of and further back from the television in the living room, and on the door of one of the bedrooms. Inside of the kitchen sink was a bloody knife with the blade broken from the handle and in the bedroom with the bloody door, blood was found on a barbell with weights on both sides. Veronica’s boyfriend said the knife was originally near Jadalee on the floor where the blood stains were, but he moved it to the sink when it was almost stepped on.
On May 8th police began to try to interview Jadalee while she was still in the children’s ICU. Interviewing her took many attempts because she would often get upset, not respond, or become confused. In one attempt she was asked if she knew how she got hurt and she said she did not know. When asked if she remembers being at her house, she said that she had a dream where Jah’Sean stabbed her. She then goes on to ask for them not to be brought there. During another interview with Jadalee in the children’s ICU, Jadalee named Jah’Sean as the only perpetrator multiple times and said “I stood up to say ‘hi’ and then I said ‘why do you have that knife in your hand?’” to which he responded “it was you” before stabbing her. She also stated that he choked her while “killing her”.
Jah’Sean’s Movements After the Attack and Police Shooting
After Jah’Sean left the apartment, he jogged south on the apartment’s street and about a block away he passed two teenagers on a golf cart who called 911 because he was bleeding and acting strangely. During police interview they stated that at one point he looked like he was on the opposite side of the street and may come out into the middle of the street and tapped his fingers together like he may be attempting to get their attention but then went back to the other side of the road and continued to run. They made eye contact with Jah’Sean but he never said anything. In their 911 call they noted that he had blood on his hands, chest, and head. Behind them was a U-Haul driver that also passed Jah’Sean but he didn’t make an attempt to flag them down either. Shortly afterwards a 12-year-old child saw Jah’Sean who pointed in his direction and yelled to “get back in the house”.
Jah’Sean continued south until he reached the driveway of a person he did not know and laid face down in their driveway. A neighbor saw this and asked Jah’Sean if he was okay and he said “yes”. This neighbor went inside before coming back out 10 seconds later to see Jah’Sean running north towards O P Johnson Park, before jumping a fence on the corner of a block about two and a half blocks from the apartment. Here, he opened a camper door of a person he did not know and went inside before jumping the fence into another person’s yard where he removed his shirt inside of their screened in pool area. He then ran across the street from this house before police make contact with him while he’s in their front yard, shirtless and covered in blood. He first approached Officer Fertic who was on the passenger side of the patrol vehicle. Officer Fertic repeatedly ordered Jah’Sean to stop and pulled out his taser. Jah’Sean responded by saying “shoot me then” and continued to approach him. Officer Dunn stepped out of the driver side door and pulled out his firearm. Jah’Sean then abruptly changed his focus and rushed Officer Dunn. The taser was deployed without any effect, Officer Dunn attempted to retreat, then fired his firearm 4 times, killing Jah’Sean Hodge. The officers performed CPR until EMTs arrived.
As a result of canvassing a two-block radius of the attack, police recovered several pieces of evidence along with witness accounts. Many witness statements were taken, none of which showed anyone running in front of Jah’Sean or anyone leaving the apartment building besides Jah’Sean. Surveillance video also showed Jah’Sean jogging down the street, not chasing anyone. At one point, a police officer saw someone matching Jah’Sean’s description jogging down the road before losing sight of him.
Witnesses heard banging and noises that were recognized as weights being dropped and clanked together. The bloody barbell found in a bedroom in the upstairs apartment not only tested positive for Jah’Sean and Jadalee’s blood and no one elses, Jah’Sean’s bloody fingerprint was left on it. The knife blade and handle found at the crime scene tested positive for Jadalee and Jah’Sean’s blood and no one else. Similarly, the shirt Jah’Sean removed in a neighbor’s screened in pool area only had his and Jadalee’s blood. Jah’Sean’s DNA was also found under Jadalee’s fingernails. There was no evidence or DNA from a third party.
Upon autopsy, it was found that Jah’Sean Hodge had 14 stab wounds, most being on the left side and superficial, consistent with being self-inflicted. This is collaborated with text messages recovered from his phone that indicated that he attempted to kill himself at or around the time of the attack. Three of the stab wounds were more substantial, with one nicking a lung, another piercing his chest wall, and one cutting through his pinky to the bone. Toxicology only showed cannabinoids in his system.
Complicating this tragic case was the inconsistencies in stories. These inconsistencies fueled theories that led to the public outcry. For example, according to statements made to police, Jah’Sean’s behavior was normal when he was last seen with Jadalee directly before the incident. In one of these statements Veronica’s mother said that Jah’Sean had taken a shower, was laying on the floor near Jadalee in front of the TV, and was acting normally. Contrary to what was said in police statements, Veronica said to a doctor at Saint Cloud Regional Medical Center that she witnessed Jah’Sean “acting crazy and running around the house”. What Veronica saw and heard during the incident has also been inconsistent. In a police interview, Veronica told police that she went downstairs to have a cigarette after her mother and brother went to Wal-Mart. Minutes later she heard him run down the stairs saying “oh my God” then saw him through the downstairs apartment window running south on their street.
When another officer was driving Veronica to Arnold Palmer Hospital she made and received several calls. In one of the calls she told the person on the other end that she passed Jah’Sean on the stairs while she ran upstairs from the downstairs apartment and noticed blood on his hands. On another call made during the car ride she said that she had seen him “chasing the guy that had hurt Jada”, though she didn’t see anyone he was chasing. While at Saint Cloud Regional Medical Center, Veronica told a patient access employee that she was laying in her bed in the downstairs apartment when she heard screaming coming from upstairs and this time she also said that Jah’Sean passed her on the stairs. When she told the patient access employee, she specifically said he said nothing to her. To the patient registration coordinator, she said that she was gardening outside when she heard a scream and that she saw Jah’Sean running from the house, bloody. This also contradicts her boyfriend’s statement which said she was in his apartment with him. The next time she spoke to the patient registration coordinator, she said that she didn’t see anything and that she thought he was chasing after someone. The patient registration coordinator stated that at this time she stopped asking Veronica questions because she felt that her “story was changing every time they spoke about it”.
Through these statements and high emotions, a third-party attacker theory developed. A rumor began that someone had run through the back yard and was possibly involved. This was ruled out after police interviewed a neighbor who was watering their flowers in the back yard of the apartment building during the incident. This neighbor stated that they heard what they thought was kids jumping around before Veronica began screaming for help. They stated they never saw anyone in the back yard of the apartment building and that the back yard can not be accessed through the common area of the house.
Although the mother’s of both Jadalee and Jah’Sean speculated publicly that Jah’Sean was actually a victim of the attack and was behaving strangely because he was wounded and trying to find the attacker, statements made by Veronica and others show that even those closest to the situation suspected Jah’Sean from the beginning. An example of this would be the statement reported by the paramedic doing COVID 19 screenings at Saint Cloud Regional Medical Center where Veronica and her mother were suspecting Jah’Sean was responsible for the attack immediately after getting to the hospital. Still, statements to news outlets continued to be made until Veronica heard Jadalee tell investigators that Jah’Sean was the culprit numerous times, and DNA evidence showed only Jah’Sean’s DNA. In the end, Veronica spoke to the media again and expressed that she struggled to believe that Jah’Sean was the attacker because of his relationship with the family, but she conclusively knows who did it now, though she will never know why.
On May 5th, 2020 Veronica Snyder found her 9-year-old daughter, Jadalee Pagan, with multiple life-threatening injuries after being left alone with a family friend, Jah’Sean Hodge. Jah’Sean was bloody and wounded when seen running away from the apartment and did not stop to tell anyone that Jadalee was injured or how he was hurt. Jadalee had sustained stab wounds to her face and neck including a 12-centimeter gash across her throat penetrating through the muscle and trachea, along with temporal, orbital, and sinus cavity fractures. While Veronica tended to her daughter and brought her to the hospital with Jadalee’s uncle, Jah’Sean exhibited strange behavior before being contacted by police where he yelled at them to shoot him while running towards them failing to obey commands. He was shot and died as a result of those injuries. The following is a transcript of the 911 call placed by the neighbor of Veronica Snyder and Jadalee Pagan.
Dispatcher: Saint Cloud Police Department [inaudible] how can we help you?
Witness: I need an am… Yeah, we need an ambulance right now.
Dispatcher: What’s the address? What is the address?
Witness: Um, [censored]
Dispatcher: Okay, so stay on the line with me, um, I just, I have some questions for you while we get them on the way. What is the number you are calling from?
Witness: Uh, [censored] going on, I, I’m not exactly sure what’s going on.
Dispatcher: Okay, just repeat that phone number for me in case we get disconnected.
Dispatcher: I’m sorry, I can’t hear [inaudible], just the last four.
Dispatcher: The last four of the phone number ma’am.
Dispatcher: Tell me exactly what happened.
Witness: Uh, I don’t know. Something happened with my neighbor’s child.
Dispatcher: Did she fall? Did they fall? I think we are getting another call on it as well.
Witness: I’m, I’m, I’m really not sure. I really don’t know.
Dispatcher: Okay, okay. Is, is there any way we could take the phone and, and, to get closer to find out what happened?
Witness: I just know that there was a knife involved. I think one of the kids were left alone and…
Dispatcher: Okay, do we know how old the patient is? How old the child is?
Witness: Uh, she’s like 9 or 10?
Dispatcher: Okay, stay on the phone with me. We’re getting help on the way, okay? This isn’t delaying them. Can you tell me, is she still awake?
Witness: Yeah. They’re going to the hospital now. [inaudible] they…
Dispatcher: Okay, and let them know that that’s not the safest thing to do they need to. They need to, I want them to know that help is not far away, okay?
Dispatcher: Can you let them know that we’re sending help and to, to, to stay with you? To stay there? Can you tell me, is the child awake?
Witness: They’re, they’re in the car already.
Dispatcher: In the car. Tell me what kind of car it is.
Witness: Uh, it’s a, a, it’s uh, fuckin’, silver car. They’re, they’re already gone. I don’t, I don’t remember the car.
Dispatcher: Okay, a silver vehicle, which way did they go? They left with the child in the car. The back roads.
Witness: They’re going to the Lakefront.
Dispatcher: I’m sorry, towards the Lakefront?
Witness: They’re going to the hospital.
Dispatcher: Do you know which hospital they’re going to?
Witness: Saint Cloud Hospital.
Dispatcher: They’re going to Saint Cloud, okay. Okay, so the, the, the child is not, is no longer there. And it occurred at this 36 Georgia Avenue? That’s where the child was at?
Dispatcher: Okay. Do you have any [inaudible] or uh, contact information for the parents or whoever is with the child?
Witness: Uh, I don’t rem…, I don’t know, I don’t have her number right now.
Dispatcher: Alright, what is, [inaudible] can you tell me anything about what they told you happened or… what [cross-talk]
Witness: Just she was left alone. The little girl was left alone for like five minutes and I think she got ahold of something, I’m not sure.
Witness: But they took her to the hospital already. There’s an officer here now.
On May 5th, 2020 Veronica Snyder found her 9-year-old daughter, Jadalee Pagan, with multiple life-threatening injuries after being left alone with a family friend, Jah’Sean Hodge. Jah’Sean was bloody and wounded when seen running away from the apartment and did not stop to tell anyone that Jadalee was injured or how he was hurt. Jadalee had sustained stab wounds to her face and neck including a 12-centimeter gash across her throat penetrating through the muscle and trachea, along with temporal, orbital, and sinus cavity fractures. While Veronica tended to her daughter and brought her to the hospital with Jadalee’s uncle, Jah’Sean exhibited strange behavior before being contacted by police where he yelled at them to shoot him while running towards them failing to obey commands. He was shot and died as a result of those injuries. The following is a transcript of the 911 call placed by Veronica’s boyfriend at the time of the crime.
Dispatcher: 911, what’s the address of the emergency?
Witness: I need a, I need a, emergency [inaudible] as soon as possible.
Dispatcher: What is the address?
Witness: [inaudible] on [censored]
Dispatcher: Repeat that once for me.
Witness: Thirty [censored]
Dispatcher: Ok, what is the phone number your calling from?
Witness: [censored] 66.
Dispatcher: ok, tell me exactly what happened.
Witness: We don’t know. All I know is, um, my girlfriend’s, um, daughter needs an ambulance soon [inaudible]. She’s bleeding from her head and she was upstairs by herself.
Dispatcher: Ok. Just stay on the line with me, we’re going get some [inaudible]. I just need gather some information for the responders, okay?
[Yelling in background]
Dispatcher: I just, I just want to confirm, you said she’s bleeding from her head but do we know… why, what happened?
Witness: Yeah, [inaudible] her head. I need a ambulance as soon as possible. Just send somebody, please!
Dispatcher: Okay, my partners are already dispatching help. Just give me one moment.
[inaudible female crying]
Dispatcher: Is there someone else up on the line with… us?
Witness: Yes, somebody is, um, yea, [inaudible stammering]. I just need someone here as soon as possible, can you just send somebody, please?
Dispatcher: Okay, I understand we already have called [cross-talk]
Witness: Just send an ambulance…
Dispatcher: Sir, I already have the call in but I’m just confirming someone else is already on the line with 911.
[background noise, female voice]
Witness: [inaudible] that’s it.
[background noises and yelling]
Dispatcher: Okay, we are already getting someone sent out. We do have police on the way as well, okay?
Witness: Uh, uh, um,
Female voice: That’s far away…
Witness: [inaudible] taking to the hospital.
Dispatcher: Okay. We already, we already have people on the way, and we, my partners already got information from someone who’s on the phone. Okay?
Witness: Yeah, I hear you.
Female voice: … a place to go.
Dispatcher: Okay, is the, is the patient still there?
Witness: She’s going to the hospital.
Dispatcher: They’re going to the hospital?
Witness: They’re going to hospital right now.
Witness: Yeah. Her uncle just came back from [inaudible], he left for a minute and…
Dispatcher: [cross-talk] Okay.
Witness: …he’s back but I’m at the house.
Dispatcher: Okay, okay. We can go ahead and disconnect we already have, um, help on the way but my partner is already gathering their information. Okay? Okay.