A horrifying finality to an Amber alert has brought the truth of tragedy to a mother of two. Around 10 a.m. on Saturday, the body of 8-year-old Cherish Lily Perrywinkle was found nearby a church in Jacksonville, Florida. She had been abducted from a Walmart in Jacksonville on Friday night around 11 p.m. The girl had been with her mother and two younger sisters. Initial reports indicated that Rayne Perrywinkle gave her daughter permission to go to McDonald’s with sex offender Donald James Smith.
According to grieving mother Rayne Perrywinkle, while her family was at a dollar store, Smith overheard her say that she couldn’t afford a new dress for her daughter. That is when Smith offered her a Walmart gift card. While Rayne Perrywinkle’s first instincts told her ‘danger’, she wanted to believe he would help her family. She herself noted that at first the man seemed ‘creepy and annoying.’ She is quoted as having said, “part of me believed this was a blessing for my children.”
Agreeing to trust in the kindness of strangers, the family got into Smith’s van. Smith then drove them to Walmart, telling them he was “waiting for his wife.” He then said that he was going to McDonald’s. “He asked if anyone wanted anything and Cherish said ‘cheeseburger.’ I didn’t realize she went with him.” Rayne Perrywinkle said. Ultimately, one daughter left with the sex offender, unbeknownst to her mother, according to the Huffington Post.
Donald James Smith had previously been convicted for attempted kidnapping as well as lewd and lascivious assault(s) on children. This tragedy came to a conclusion when police tracked down Smith’s van. He was found driving the van around 9am, on I-95 in Jacksonville. According to Jacksonville.com, police “have not said whether or not Smith led them to the” girl’s body. Ultimately Smith has been arrested and charged with murder, and so the legal process begins.