Dillen Murray, 16, trice arrested for battery as an even younger teen, told a friend, “I wonder what it feels like to kill somebody.”
Murray is now accused of beating 15-year-old Giovanni “Gio” Diaz to death Monday with an aluminum tee-ball bat in a wooded area of Lake Wales, Florida.
Diaz, a student at Frostproof Middle/ Senior High, was apparently seeing a girl that Murray liked, so Murray lured Diaz to the woods to commit, what police said was a “premeditated murder.” The proof of that is in the multiple texts Murray sent to Diaz luring him to the “rocks to chill,” according to police. The “rocks” a reference to a spot in the woods where kids hang out.
Polk County Sheriff homicide investigators charged Murray with first-degree murder in the bloody, brutal beating. Sheriff Grady Judd said he’d ask the state’s attorney to try Murray as an adult.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Murray, Just 16, Already Had Three Previous Arrests For Battery & Victim Diaz Was One of the Three People He Had Previously Assaulted
Polk County Sheriff’s department probable cause affidavits show that in March of 2016, when he was just 14, Murray was arrested for punching Diaz in the face at the school bus stop. That same day, he was also charged with slapping a girl in the face while on a school bus. Murray was handed over to the Juvenile Assessment Center. A year later, in May of 2017, Murray attacked his father who, while thrown against a wall by his son, was uninjured and declined to seek assistance at a domestic violence shelter.
Sheriff Judd said despite being charged three times previously for attacking people, there was apparently no punishment for Murray: “What do you think happened? Nothing.”
2. Murray, Jealous & Angry, Lured Diaz Via Multiple Texts to ‘Chill’ & Then Beat Him to Death, Police Say
Judd said Murray, furious that Diaz was dating a girl he liked, lured him into the woods. When Diaz arrived he found Murray there with a bat and asked, “What are you gonna do hit me with that bat,” Judd said adding that’s when Murray swung. Judd said the first hit from the bat knocked Diaz down and Murray, after switching stories, admitted beating and hitting Diaz nine times in the face and head.
Judd said Murray’s jealously drove him to murder but was not based in reality: “Dillen …had created a love relationship with, a girl who has nothing to do with him.”
Detectives interviewed friends and acquaintances of both Murray and Diaz and found out that Murray had just, in the past couple of days, learned that Diaz was hooking up with the girl and the denouement came when police were told Murray said on Sunday, “I wonder what it’s like to kill somebody.”
But that wasn’t Murray’s first story; he initially said he killed Diaz in self defense. But police saw no evidence of that, no bruises, marks, cuts, nothing. He was never struck by Diaz. Finally, when confronted he admitted he struck Diaz but said he was baited. The problem with that story was that Murray texted Diaz at around 10:30 Monday morning and asked him to “chill” after school: “Yo…Meet me at rocks after school so we can chill.” Diaz responded okay. Murray then sent an additional 13 text messages to remind him about their meeting and to ask if he was close to arriving. Diaz didn’t respond to those tests, but did arrive for the meeting. And Murray killed him.
3. After Killing Diaz, Police Say Murray Called 911 & Created an ‘Elaborate’ Story Before Confessing
As Murray is leaving the woods, he sees someone who police describe as a witness and says, “I just hit my friend with a bat, what do I do?” The witness said, ‘Call 911’ and then went to check on Diaz and found the boy “significantly injured.” Judd said Diaz had suffered horrific blunt force trauma injuries to his face and head: “Only your imagination can calculate …”
Meanwhile, Murray makes a “frantic” call to 911, Judd said, telling the dispatcher he’d hit his friend with a bat in self-defense. When deputies arrived, they found Diaz dead and a bloodied aluminum bat by his body. Murray said he ‘wailed’ on Diaz, but to protect himself, and that he thought Diaz might be dead. Police contacted Murray’s father and it was agreed deputies could take him to the sheriff’s department for questioning. This is, in part, Murray’s initial account from the PCSO probable cause affidavit:
Murray told police Diaz asked him last week if the two could meet up on Monday to smoke weed. When they met up, at around 2:45, Murray said Diaz asked if he wanted to play baseball after they smoked so. Murray went to his house to get a bat, returned and sat down and rolled a blunt. He said Diaz had to urinate and told him not to look. He said he heard the bat being picked up and that when he turned, Diaz had the with both hands over Murray’s head and was preparing to hit him. Murray said he tried to block an attack and was stuck with the bat, stood up, grabbed the bat and he said that’s when Diaz punched him in the face with a closed fist. Murray said Diaz charged him so he swung and hit Diaz, who staggered and fell. Murray said his “blood began to boil” and that he “wanted to kill him,” so struck Diaz a total of 9 times on his face and head and “windpipe.” He said he then ran for help. Police asked him why would Diaz want to attack him. Murray suggested a possible motive: Diaz had a few weeks prior showed him a Rubik’s Cube and Murray said it was “lame.” And then added another possible motive: Murray had sex with a girl Diaz liked.
Police said Murray “did not have any injuries consistent with being punched in the face or being struck with a bat in the forearm.”
When confronted he then said a week earlier he found out Diaz was having sex with the girl he was “in love with” which angered him. Murray said he and Diaz agreed to meet Monday and that Diaz said things about the girl that further angered Murray and he picked up the bat and alleged that Diaz said he was not afraid and called Murray names. Murray began to hit him. Repeatedly, Judd said until Diaz fell and then continued to strike Diaz in the face so Diaz wouldn’t “talk bad about the girl he loves anymore, which is why he struck the victim in the face while the victim was lying on the ground.”
4. Sheriff Judd Said Murray Should Be Tried As an Adult
Judd said in a press conference live streamed on the PCSO Facebook page that Murray was a disturbed kid and showed images from Murray’s Facebook. One of which was the Joker from Batman as played by the actor Heath Ledger. But other photos included bloody scenes, one a of a bloodied knife. Judd said with “this kind of personality” and with his prior arrests for assaulting people, including the victim Diaz two years ago and his father last year, were all the red flags needed.
“He admitted Gio never hit him. He admitted he beat him until he died.”
Judd called the beating death an “outrageous and vicious murder.”
Judd said the teen is rightly being charged with a capital offense, first degree murder, which in Florida can mean the death penalty.
“This was a premeditated murder, premeditated for a period of time,” Judd said. Planned.
Judd asked rhetorically, “Could an intervention have prevented this vicious murder?
5. Diaz Was a ‘Great Kid’ & One With a Bright Future. A GoFundMe Account Has Been Set Up to Help His Family Pay Funeral Costs
“Gio was a good boy, a great kid,” Judd said. Diaz was “on track to graduate early. He was a good kid.”
Judd said Diaz was bright and with a bright future ahead.
“Let me underscore, this,” Judd said. “Gio has never been in any trouble at all. Zero. He’s reported to have a high IQ, according to the school, according to his mother. He’s a good student. He’s just a good kid. Gio is just not a problem child at all and I think that adds to the sadness of this entire case.”
Gio’s mother shared this video on Facebook.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family cover the costs to bury their 15-year-old son.