Polk County

Mother of Lake Wales murder victim speaks about son's brutal beating

LAKE WALES, Fla (WFLA) - Nikki McNabb is trying to be strong, but it's hard. 

"In all honesty, I think if I was alone, I would go insane," said McNabb. "There aren't really any words to describe how you feel." 

On Monday afternoon, she learned her 15-year-old son, Giovanni Diaz, had been brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat. 

The suspect? A boy her son hung out with, 16-year old Dillen Murray.

McNabb says Murray roughed her son up a couple of years ago and she was forced to call the authorities. 

Murray was arrested on a battery charge for striking Diaz and another teen in their Lake Wales mobile home park. 

But Gio, as his mother called him, was willing to forgive and forget and was soon hanging out with Murray again.

Polk County sheriff's officials say it was Murray who called 911 to report the beating on Monday. 

Sheriff Grady Judd says the murder was over a girl.

McNabb finds the whole thing difficult to understand. She knew her son's "friend" was trouble, but never dreamed her son's life would end like this. 

She says Murray even spent the night at her home last year, after his father kicked him out of the house.

Now, she is surrounding herself with family members and friends, trying to be strong for them. 

"I can't let them see me down," said McNabb. "And I know this is what Gio would have wanted... For me to be strong because that's how I've always been." 

She is still in disbelief that her 15-year old child is gone and smiles as she remembers him. 

"Just an awesome kid all around. He wanted to be friends with everybody, no matter what they did to him," said McNabb. "Very caring, compassionate, funny. He was a great listener to everybody.  Everybody knows him. All the people out here know him. "

Friends of the family set up a GoFundMe page to help with final expenses. 

McNabb says her son won't be buried in a suit, rather the skateboard clothes and Vans shoes he loved to wear.

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