Cherish Perrywinkle: A Tragedy That Could Have Been Prevented

RIP Sunshine
RIP Sunshine

Jacksonville, FL.-June 22, 2013– An eight year-old girl named Cherish Lily Perrywinkle was kidnapped from a Wal-Mart on the northside of Jacksonville, FL. The child’s body was found on Saturday, June 22, 2013 near a church on Broward Rd. The suspect Donald James Smith, who is 56 year-old, befriended the child’s mother Rayne Perrywinkle at a Dollar General Store on Edgewood Ave. around 7 pm Friday night.

After earning the mother’s trust, Smith offered to buy $100.00 worth of clothing and food for Cherish and her two sisters. The Perrywinkle family rode with Smith to Walmart on Lem Turner Rd, where he claimed that he was meeting with his wife. After a couple hours of waiting and shopping, Smith offered to buy the family some hamburgers from the McDonalds that is located the inside the Wal-Mart.

The young girl Cherish followed behind the suspect Donald Smith, while the mother wasn’t looking. The mother anxiously awaited the return of Donald and Cherish, however they didn’t return. The police were called after 11 pm to Wal-Mart, in order to find the missing child and the suspect who had taken her. An Amber Alert was issued at 5 am, even though the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department requested an Amber Alert to be issued at 2:30 am.

Currently, people are asking why it took so long to issue the Amber Alert, once the criteria for issuing an alert were met in this case. The police dug deeper into the suspect’s background and they learned that Donald Smith was already registered as a sex offender. He was place on the sex offender registry due to a previous case of kidnapping and assault on a child. Additionally, the investigating officers learned he had just been released from prison on May 31, 2013.

The morning of June 22nd, Donald Smith was pulled over by the police around 9 am, while driving the van that he drove the Perrywinkle family to Wal-Mart. The missing child was not in the van; however the police arrested Smith immediately. Subsequently, the police announced around 10 am, that missing child’s body has been found murdered by a church on Broward Rd.

Cherish Perrywinkle’s father Billy Jarreauand her mother Rayne Perrywinkle were recently in a battle over custody of the child. However, the judge overseeing the case decided that Cherish should remain with her mother. However, her father received visitation and on the tragic day of her murder he was planning to take Cherish home with him in California for the summer.

Instead her father is coming to town for her funeral and he has a lot of unanswered questions about how this happened to his daughter. Mr. Jarreau believes that the child’s mother Rayne Perrywinkle is to blame for her daughter’s death, because she made bad decisions which led up to the child’s death. However, she had no idea that the man offering to help her family would turn out to be a monster. The child’s mother thought he was a family man with a wife and two children, but he was a monster who used the family man line to earn the mother’s trust.

Police confirmed that he is not married and he does not have any young children, as he claimed to the child’s mother. He was a registered sex offender, but how could the mother have known that at the time he met her. Sexual predators look normal and they have no identifying marks that can warn people to beware of them. In fact, he has a long history of crimes against children, as well as impersonating a Department of Children and Families case worker.

Unfortunately, Cherish would have never met Smith, if the justice system had worked properly and kept this predator behind bars. He is now facing charges in this case and possibly will receive the death penalty. I know it is easy to blame the mother, but instead help the family with food or clothing. Additionally, the family will need help with burial costs.

Apparently, the family needs help according to the local news, so take a moment to pray for the family and then figure out a way you can help. Cherish Perrywinkle will be laid to rest on Thursday, June 27, 2013 by her family, friends, and community. Additionally, if this case angers you, then stand up and work with families who are trying to change the laws concerning child predators.


After Cherish Perrywinkle’s death, hundreds mourn

Retrieved on July 24, 2013 from the World Wide Web

Cherish: A Life cut too short

Retrieved on July 23, 2013 from the World Wide Web