JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Rayne Perrywinkle has been too emotional to speak of the night her child was taken, but her long-time boyfriend believes she was manipulated by the suspect who he says appeared to be a 'family man'.
"Rayne never ever gave that man permission to take Cherish to McDonalds. Rayne never let the children out of her sight," said Aharon Pearson, Rayne Perrywinkle's boyfriend.
It was a normal Friday night and Aharon Pearson said Rayne Perrywinkle and Cherish were doing what they always do, shopping at dollar stores. The night started at the Dollar General on Edgewood Avenue.
"When Rayne was at the dollar store she was a little short on the money she needed for the dresses and [Smith] noticed that and said 'you know my wife has this extra gift certificate she doesn't need', you know, we're just going to give it to you," said Pearson.
The 'family man approach,' that's how Pearson describes suspect Donald Smith's actions.
"He posed as a family man with children, and to my amazement, he manipulated her. I mean Rayne won't even get in the car with one of my friends that I've known. She's very protective of the children, but he posed as a family man," said Pearson.
The group traveled to Walmart on Lem Turner Road, and after hours of shopping, the nightmare began.
"Actually she was very uncomfortable, she admitted. And when they got to Walmart Rayne was busy looking at clothes and stuff. I guess this Donald guy said something to Cherish behind Rayne's back about going to McDonalds," said Pearson.
Pearson said Perrywinkle never allowed Cherish to go with Smith, but it was too late when she noticed Cherish was gone. He said she looked around the store for 20 minutes before realizing Cherish had been taken.
"She didn't realize they left the store. She walked around the store looking for Cherish, asking the employees, 'have you seen a little girl?'" added Pearson.
According to Pearson Rayne went to the McDonalds and security and asked employees if they and seen Cherish.
"Finally she went to one of the employees and said I think my daughter has been taken, and that's when they called 9-1-1," Pearson said.
Cherish's dream was to become a doctor.
Pearson said her favorite color was pink and that she loved to play dress up and watch Disney movies.
Questions still remain about what happened in the hours leading up to the discovery of her body early the following morning.
First Coast News