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Florida Child Murder Cases Trigger Tougher Child Protection Laws

By: Mike Vasilinda
By: Mike Vasilinda

When Jimmy Ryce went missing, his parents were told to wait 24 hours to file a report. Today, there are missing child alerts transmitted by pagers, phones and the Internet, and for the last seven years there have been ceremonies to remember those children who have been lost.

Guy Tunnell, FDLE Commissioner, says, “This year we experienced yet two more tragedies; the disappearances and murders of Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lundy.”

For parents who have lost a child, it is a chance to meet with the handful of others who can truly grasp their loss.

Heather Cox, whose daughter was murdered in 1995, says, “I see how far we’ve come and it never seems enough, you know? It never seems enough. We’ll never get over losing Shelby. She’s gone.”

John Finch, whose son was murdered in 1997, adds, “He would be almost ready to go into high school. He’d been another handful, you know, but he’s in a lot better place than we are here.”

It has been 10 years since Jimmy Ryce was abducted and murdered here in Florida.
Jimmy’s dad says in those 10 years, there have been big advances in child safety.

But Don Ryce says there is so much more to do.

Don says, “We can’t afford to celebrate. We have not; we’re not in a position to claim victory over this kind of a crime.”

And for the parents of Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lundy, the girls who were murdered since last year's ceremony, the pain was too close. They chose not to attend.

Last week, a judge ruled Florida could keep sex offenders deemed not to be rehabilitated in civil commitment indefinitely.

The law was created under the Jimmy Ryce Act almost a decade ago.


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