On Oct. 1, Tristan Dilley was found dead in her Buna, Texas, home after suffering two gunshot wounds to the head. The 14-year-old was discovered after family had returned home from a shopping trip.
According to the Daily Mail, Tristan’s mother yelled for her daughter to come downstairs, but when Tristan didn’t answer, her mother assumed she was sleeping and asked her 13-year-old bother to go upstairs and wake her.
That’s when Tristan’s body was discovered laying in a pool of her own blood.
During their initial investigation, the local authorities found no signs of a forced entry or that Tristan put up a fight, leading them to believe the teenager knew her killer.
Tristan’s phone records showed the last person she had talked to was someone named “Adam.” According to the conversation, the pair was devising a plan in order to meet up while her family was out on their shopping trip.
As the Beaumont Enterprise suggested, Tristan told her mom she was too tired to go shopping and asked if she could skip the trip to rest up after the school dance she attended the night before.
Soon after, the police named Tristan’s 19-year-old boyfriend, Paul Adams, as the main murder suspect.
The authorities initially pinged Adams’ cellphone to a wooden area near the Texas-Louisiana border, but they were unable to locate the 19-year-old. The following day, Adams made a phone call to his mom, who authorities questioned once they arrived at her house.
Adams reportedly told his mom that while he was at Tristan’s house the night she died, he wasn’t the one who killed her.
Police were then able to ping Adams’ cellphone again. Officers found Adam attempting to build a camp in a secluded area of the woods. However, once the officers began approaching him, Adams took his own life.
Following a search of the makeshift campsite, the authorities found a suicide note. They released the contents of that note Wednesday. It read (emphasis added):
I know what you’re thinking but I didn’t kill her. I loved Tristan with all my heart. I know we shouldn’t have snuck around but I also know she’s 14 and I am 19 but that did not matter to us. We cared about each other deeply. It was her birthday soon and we just wanted to see each other. When I got to her house everything was fine for a few hours but then we heard someone come in. We thought it was her parents, but it was some man. He looked to be in his mid 50’s, wore blue jeans and a Boston Red Sox ball cap. Thinking it was her parents, I hid in the bathroom, but I realized it wasn’t her parents when Tristan started screaming. I didn’t see what happened, but I believe she was (assaulted) because she kept screaming for him to get off her and I just stood by. I wanted to try and help her, but he was threatening her with a gun. I knew if I tried anything he would shoot me too but if I knew now what I knew after it all happened I would gave my life to try and save her.
Now this is all happened I feel it will just be better to end my life. I can’t live knowing I was too much of a coward to do anything about it. I don’t even know Tristan’s parents’ names, but I am so sorry this happened. I’d do anything to go back and stop him if I could. Mom, I love you with all my heart, you were the best mom anyone could ask for. I wish I could’ve finished college and got a job with good family but now things will never be the same. I feel they will hold me responsible and after watching so many shows of Lock-Up, I’d rather die than be locked up in a cage my whole life. I have so many questions as well. Why did this happen to us? But I guess the universe if full of surprises. Yes, I am scared to die but the alternative to staying alive seems hopeless. I just hope my death is quick.
I believe Tristan died instantly. I just remember hearing two shots and then silence. When I looked in her room, all I could see was a perfectly still body and a huge puddle of blood. I didn’t know what to do besides run but even running from something like this is useless. My only wish is to be cremated and I want all of my possessions to go to my parents. I know people will think that I killed her or I was responsible for letting it happen but I know what happened. I felt like a drop of water in all the oceans. I wanted to scream but no words could come out. It was as if the breath was knocked out of me.
However, despite Adams’ note, authorities say evidence still suggests he was the one to take the 14-year-old’s life. As the Beaumont Enterprise reported, tests revealed the same revolver used to shoot Tristan was the same gun Adams used to kill himself.
Other tools found at Adams’s campsite — including “a hatchet, rope, burlap sacks, eight pairs of handcuffs, dumbbells, bottled water, a water purification kit, food supplies, a book about human anatomy and $577 in cash “— suggested Adams was possibly planning to dispose of the teen’s body after taking her life.
Most of the supplies were reportedly purchased at Walmart on Sept. 28, just days before Tristan’s murder.
Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman told the Beaumont Enterprise:
“[Adams] ruined two families. Not just hers, but he ruined his too.”
Tristan would have celebrated her 15th birthday just two days later on Oct. 3.