A 16-year-old Florida boy is accused of killing a 15-year-old friend in what authorities are calling “premeditated, cold-blooded murder” allegedly motivated by jealousy over a girl, PEOPLE confirms.
The suspect was charged on Monday with the murder earlier that day of Giovanni “Gio” Diaz, Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd announced at a news conference on Tuesday.
It appears the suspect has not been charged as an adult and PEOPLE does not identify juveniles accused of crimes.
It is unclear when the teen is scheduled to appear in court. He has not yet entered a plea and attorney information was unavailable Wednesday.
“It absolutely, totally breaks your heart when you see a wonderful, young 15-year-old boy who’s now dead because of premeditated, cold-blooded murder that this kid committed, and that’s what it was,” Judd said.
The killing was motivated by longterm “jealousy and anger” over a girl both the suspect and victim had liked, according to Judd.
Judd said that shortly before 3 p.m. Monday, Polk County deputies responded to a 911 call allegedly made by the suspect claiming he had badly beaten his friend with a baseball bat in self-defense. Upon arrival, deputies discovered Gio unresponsive and suffering from blunt force trauma to the head, chest and arms.
During questioning with law enforcement, Judd alleged, the suspect initially created an “elaborate scheme” in which Gio had attacked him first, forcing him to use an aluminum baseball bat to defend himself.
But when authorities asked the suspect why he showed no signs of being attacked, the teen allegedly admitted that Gio never hit him.
Investigators told the suspect they had spoken to a witness who came forward and said that two days before Gio’s death, the suspect asked, “I wonder what it’s like — what does it feel like — to kill somebody?”
It was then, Judd said, that the suspect allegedly told investigators the “true story” and gave them a “complete confession.”
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The suspect said that he’d become angry with Gio before the slaying because Gio had told his friend that a few years ago he had “relations” with a girl that [the suspect] loved but who “didn’t like [the suspect] at all,” Judd alleged.
“[The suspect] was totally enraged at the thought of Gio having any kind of relationship with this girl who he was deeply in love with,” Judd claimed.
He allegedly admitted to hitting Gio with the aluminum bat until he died, Judd said.
Text messages recovered from the suspect’s phone allegedly showed that the teen lured Gio into the woods by asking him if he wanted to hang out and smoke marijuana. Once in the woods, the suspect asked Gio about the girl and got angry, authorities suspect. He allegedly began hitting the younger boy with the bat — leaving it dented and covered in blood.
The 16-year-old has had issues with law enforcement in the past, Judd told reporters:
In October 2016, he was arrested and charged with two counts of battery after he allegedly attacked Gio and a young woman on the same day. In April, the suspect was charged with felony battery after he allegedly got into a fight with his father in a domestic violence incident.
When asked whether the suspect was punished for the three incidents, Judd answered: “He’s a juvenile, what do you think the outcome was? Nothing.”
The disposition of the charges in those earlier incidents was not immediately clear.
Because of the violent nature of the previous allegations against the suspect, Judd said he has requested the boy be charged as an adult.
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Prosecutors and court officials did not immediately return PEOPLE’s messages seeking comment.
Gio attended Frostproof Middle/High School, Judd said. Polk County School District Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd released a statement to local TV station WVFLA on Tuesday in which she described him as “a true joy to teach.”
“He was happy and fun-loving, intelligent and analytical,” Byrd said. “He and his principal used to play a game at lunchtime. Giovanni had a Rubik’s Cube, and Principal Windham would mix up the colors and watch as Giovanni once again solved the puzzle. Giovanni had a very bright future ahead of him that ended brutally, senselessly, and much too soon. The Diaz family is in our hearts and prayers.”
The suspect was homeschooled at the time of the killing, Judd said this week.
“From everything we’ve learned, Gio was a good boy,” he said. “He was not a troublemaker at home, he was not a troublemaker at school. On the other hand, you have [the suspect].”
A GoFundMe has been started to help with Gio’s funeral expenses.