Sheriff: Polk teen’s brutal murder motivated by jealousy

Local News

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says the brutal murder of a teenage boy was premeditated and motivated by jealousy.

Deputies say 15-year-old Giovanni Diaz was beaten to death with a baseball bat on Monday afternoon.

One of Diaz’s friends, 16-year-old Dillen Murray, has been charged with his death.  

A 16-year-old Polk County boy was charged with first degree murder after investigators say he beat a 15-year-old friend to death with a baseball bat.

Sheriff Judd says Murray made a “frantic 911 call” just before 3 p.m. Monday because he had “hit his friend in self-defense with a bat.” 

When deputies responded to the scene near Caloosa Boulevard and Lake Boulevard, they found Diaz unresponsive with extensive blunt force trauma to the head, face, chest and arms. They also found an aluminum tee-ball bat dented and covered in blood.

During an interview with detectives, Sheriff Judd says Murray presented them with an “elaborate scheme” claiming Diaz attacked him first with the bat and his fists.

After detectives explained they didn’t see any evidence of Diaz hitting him with the bat or punching him, Sheriff Judd says Murray finally told them the truth that Diaz never hit him.

Sheriff Judd says they also told the teen about a witness who came forward and told detectives that two days before the murder, Murray asked, “I wonder what it’s like – what does it feel like – to kill somebody.”

“Dillen then told us what we believe is the true story. And it was all crafted as a result of jealousy and anger,” Sheriff Judd said.

Before the murder, Sheriff Judd says Diaz told Murray he had “relations” a few years ago with a girl that Murray liked.

“It so angered Dillen because he was ‘in love’ with this young lady who didn’t like him at all,” Judd said.

According to the sheriff, text messages show Murray texted Diaz last week asking him to go into the woods and smoke marijuana. Diaz later agreed to meet on Monday.

While they were in the woods, Judd says Diaz once again brought up his “relations” with the girl that Murray liked. The sheriff says it infuriated Murray, who then started hitting Diaz with the bat he brought along.

Judd says Murray hit the victim repeatedly. Murray later told detectives he “wanted to make sure the victim was not going to talk bad about the girl he loves anymore,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Murray has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of possession of marijuana.

Diaz was a student at Frostproof in the Polk County School District. Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd released this statement yesterday:

“Giovanni Diaz was a true joy to teach. He was happy and fun-loving, intelligent and analytical. 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.”

“From everything we’ve learned, Gio was a good boy,” Sheriff Judd said. “He was not a troublemaker at home, he was not a troublemaker at school. On the other hand, you have Dillen.” 

During the news conference, Sheriff Judd showed pictures Murray had posted on his Facebook page, including one of a bloody clown and another of a bloody knife.

“This kinda gives an image of what we believe is the way that he thought,” Judd said. “We know that peoples’ Facebook pages and social media can show their real personalities. And we think that these photographs that he had on his Facebook page captures his personality very well.”

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