LAKE WALES (FOX 13) - Hundreds and family and friends of a Polk County teenager who died a brutal death gathered Thursday night to remember the boy who touched so many lives in such a short time.
The group of loved ones joined together and walked down the road to where 15-year-old Gio Diaz was found. They walked deep into the woods, to where detectives said 16-year-old Dillen Murray, a supposed friend, beat Gio to death with a baseball bat in a jealous rage over a girl.
"It's terrible that my son lost his life like this," said Jose Diaz, Gio's father. "Everybody knows him and they know that he's got a loving heart and it's very hurtful."
Through her tears, Gio's mother, Nikki McNabb, led the vigil.
"You guys remember who he was and how he was and you guys live like that, and remember that, and come together. We have to stop this bullying," she said. "There's too much hate in this world. An awesome child was lost because of this."
Everyone who knew Gio has described him as kind, caring and intelligent; he was already taking college courses and planned to graduate early.
"Gio was a kindhearted, sweet guy. He was funny. He knew what to say at the right time," said Anna Carden, who described him as a "brother."
"I keep telling myself he's in a better place. He didn't deserve that though," added Trevor Lahman, another good friend.
Investigators said Dillen admitted he was angry that Giovanni had told him that he’d had relations with a girl Dillen was in love with. They believe Dillen asked his friend to meet him in the woods, then confronted him.
Dillen initially called 911 claiming that he’d been attacked, but when detectives pointed out that he did not have evidence of any defensive injuries, he allegedly changed his story.
Gio's family is now planning his funeral. They said an online fundraising effort has brought in a lot of money to help cover the costs.