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Funeral For Slain Florida 8-Year-Old Scheduled

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

Associated Press Release

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Funeral services will be held for Cherish Perrywinkle, the 8-year-old girl who authorities say was kidnapped and killed by a sex offender with a long criminal record.

The Paxon Revival Center Church will celebrate Cherish's life at 2 p.m. Friday.

The 8-year-old girl's body was found Saturday morning. Donald James Smith has been charged with murder and kidnapping.

Church pastors say Cherish has attended the church for four years and that she was a sweet little girl. Court documents say Cherish loved Disney movies and the color pink.

Records show that Cherish's parents were never married and fought years for her custody.

The man accused of killing Cherish was convicted of sex crimes against children and had gotten out of prison less than a month earlier.


Associated Press Release

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The father of a northeast Florida girl who slain after being abducted while shopping with her mother has arrived in Jacksonville for her funeral.

In statement Wednesday, Billy Jarreau said he was in shock and disbelief that his daughter, Cherish Perrywinkle, was gone.

Jerreau and Cherish's mother had a long custody battle over the girl. Jarreau's attorney told The Florida Times-Union (http://bit.ly/10n0qlf ) that seeing the case end with the 8-year-old's death is "just the most helpless feeling you can ever imagine."

Authorities say a registered sex offender abducted Cherish from a Wal-Mart on Friday night. Her body was found Saturday morning. Donald James Smith has been charged with murder and kidnapping.

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Information from: The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, http://www.jacksonville.com


By: Mike Vasilinda

The man accused of murdering an eight year old after leading her from a Wal-Mart near Jacksonville was once recommended for civil commitment for sex offenders. That means he would not have returned to society until cured the case fell through the cracks.

Donald James Smith is accused of killing eight year old Cherish Perrywinkle after befriending her family and leading her from a Jacksonville Wal-Mart. Smith was convicted of a sex crime in 1992 and as he was about to leave prison in 1999, the state flagged Smith as likely to re offend and be dangerous in the future. Psychiatrists who evaluated him agreed.

Just one percent of all sex offenders and predators get such a recommendation. “In the statue says that we’re supposed to be looking for that small, extremely dangerous number of predators,” says Daniel Monfaldi Administrator of Sexually Violent Predator Program from DCF.

Smith was sent to a civil commitment facility near Tampa. Keeping a violent sexual predator in confined treatment after their sentence has run out requires the approval of an unanimous jury, right now there are about 650 people undergoing that treatment.

For some reason a jury never heard about the state’s or psychiatrist’s fears. “He did do some treatment but the court let him out in 2002. There is no notation, there is just the petition was dismissed,” said Monfaldi.

Smith was arrested again in 2009 for making obscene calls to a ten year old. The charges were dropped to misdemeanors, and because there was no felony, Smith didn’t meet the criteria to be reevaluated.

That’s an evaluation that almost certainly would have found Smith a danger to re-offend, and would have kept him in prison indefinitely instead of allowing him to be in a Wal-Mart where he kidnapped 8 year old Cherish Periwinkle.


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