One Year Later: Father of Cherish Perrywinkle speaks to FCN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- This weekend will mark one year since the abduction and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle. A crime that shook Jacksonville to its core and still is having an impact on laws in our state today.

First Coast News breaks down a timeline of the major events during those ten hours.

-11:18 pm on June 21st, 2013- A frantic Rayne Perrywinkle calls 911 to report her daughter Cherish was taken from the Walmart on Lem Turner Road. Rayne told officers a man she had met earlier that evening at Dollar Genera, Donald Smith had offered buy her and her children clothes from Walmart. While in the Walmart, authorities say Smith offered to take Cherish to get something to eat at the in store McDonalds, but the two disappeared.

-11:36 pm- JSO broadcasts the first BOLO- be on the lookout- for Cherish Perrywinkle and Donald Smith's white van. Officers then watch the surveillance video showing Smith with Cherish inside the Walmart and verify they left in Smith's van.

-2:20 am- June 22nd, 2013- A Homicide sergeant notifies homicide lieutenant of the need to initiate Amber Alert.

-4:21 am -- The Amber Alert is issued

-4:39 am- An EARS notification is sent to local media advising of a news conference to take place at 5 am. The message advises that the case is in reference to an abduction of a juvenile by a known sex offender.

-5:27 am- JSO sends out photos of Cherish and Donald Smith and pictures of Smith's Van to local media.

-8:34 am- A citizen spots a suspicious vehicle matching one she saw on TV at Highlands Baptist Church on Rutgers Rd.

-8:57 am- An officer sees Smith's van on I-95 Southbound.

-9:05 am- Smith is stopped on I-95 downtown and taken into custody. Cherish is not in the van.

According to documents he told officers he was smoking crack cocaine all night with prostitutes. When asked why he was all wet, he allegedly told police he sweat profusely when doing drugs.

-9:20 am- Cherish's body is found by the K9 team submerged in water in a grassy marsh area behind the church on Rutgers Road. A plastic Walmart bag found nearby.

In the days after Cherish's horrific abduction and murder, FCN learned more about Smith's checkered past and that he had just been released from jail three weeks before Cherish's abduction. He is now in the Duval County Pre-trial Detention Facility, awaiting his trial on charges of first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery. He has pleaded not guilty. If convicted the State Attorney says they will seek the death penalty.

FCN spoke to Perrywinkle's father, Billy Jarreau Friday.

"I live with this every day, I spend a lot of time just walking around and I do a lot of researching, looking at stories, and looking at details and trying to find answers and there isn't any," Jarreau.

Cherish vacationed with her father in California the summer before her death. Jarreau says he tried to gain custody of her but it was an ongoing battle.

"We obviously had different opinions on how we should raise children and when the mother has custody you don't get much of an option," he said.

Jarreau says he was just starting to build a great relationship with his daughter. He also described what the last year has been like for him.

"It's been really hard. I've been searching for answers for a lot of the things. To sit out and wait for the trial and everything else that happened, it's's agony," he said.

On Saturday, FCN spoke with Lysa Telzer, the Senior Victim's Advocate for the Justice Coalition.

"Nobody can imagine what it's like to walk in her shoes. But, she's an incredible woman for people who don't know Rayne the way I've gotten to know Rayne," she said.

She was speaking about Cherish's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle. Telzer said the coalition has been behind her since day 1.

"She's an incredible woman," Telzer said.

About suspect, Donald Smith, who is awaiting trial, Telzer said

"Justice will be served. There's no doubt. He will get what he deserves."

The process is of a personal note to Telzer. Her mother-in-law was murdered in December 2009.

"I know what it's like to be alone and to face a courtroom and not knowing the lingo and what goes on," Telzer said.

Telzer said the coalition would be with Rayne through the process.

Jury selection is set to begin October 6th.


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