8-Year-Old Abducted And Killed By Registered Sex Offender Less Than A Month After He’s Released From Prison

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Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 12.39.08 PMIt’s stories like this that make me want to put my arms around my children and never let go. An eight-year-old girl is dead after a registered sex offender “befriended” her and her mother and managed to orchestrate a kidnapping – right out from under her mother’s supervision.

On Friday night, eight-year-old Charish Lilly Perriwinkle, her mother and her two younger siblings were shopping at a dollar store in Jacksonville, Florida. Donald James Smith, 56, a registered sex offender who had just been released from prison weeks earlier happened to hear her mother mention that she couldn’t afford to buy her a dress and offered to “help her out.”  From The Huffington Post:

Smith told her his wife had a Walmart gift card, and could meet them at Walmart and use the card to buy items for the family.

They headed to the Walmart in Smith’s van. Once there, Perriwinkle says Smith kept insisting they were waiting for his wife. At one point, he said he was heading to the store’s McDonald’s. The mother says she did not realize her daughter was going with him.

“He asked if I wanted anything and I heard Cherish say ‘cheeseburger.’ I thought she stayed near me. I didn’t realize she went with him. I didn’t let her go with him like people think.”

Instead of heading to McDonald’s, Smith took the young girl out of Walmart and to his van. That would be the last time she was seen alive. An Amber Alert was issued when her mother reported her missing that night.  On Saturday morning police stopped Smith in his van and detained him. Charish was not with him. Local tips led police to a church four miles from the Walmart where he abducted her – and her body was found.

Smith was previously convicted of attempted kidnapping and lewd and lascivious assault on children. From

Smith served prison time for attempted kidnapping and lewd and lascivious assault on children. The first time he attempted to lure a 13-year-old girl into his van and chased her as she ran away. The second time involved Smith trying to lure two girls into his van with pornographic magazines, according to Times-Union archives.

Smith was last arrested in 2009 where he was accused of impersonating a Department of Children and Services officer and making obscene and threatening calls to a 9-year-old girl.

The arrest report said he had called a 12-year-old boy on his cellphone asking to speak to his sister, whom he knew by name. The boy gave him his mother’s cellphone. The man called her saying he was with DCF conducting an investigation regarding her daughter.

The girl was visiting grandparents, so he called them and spoke with the daughter for about 20 minutes. He had asked questions about whether she wore a bra and what her privates looked like. Then he told the grandmother the child’s father and grandfather were suspected of molesting her and that if she told anyone of their conversation she could go to jail.

He demanded she bring the girl to a McDonald’s so he could examine her. She did so, but went inside instead of waiting in the parking lot as instructed. The man did not appear. The mother later gave police the man’s phone number and traced it to Smith.

The felony case ended in 2012 “with plea-bargained guilty pleas to charges that carried only a year behind bars.” He was released as a registered sex offender, not a sexual predator. This distinction allowed him to live within walking distance of a middle school. How in the hell is impersonating a DCF officer and attempted kidnapping an offense punishable by ONE YEAR in prison? This man is a predator. He stalked his prey in a dollar store and took advantage of a mother in dire financial straits. A beautiful eight-year-old girl with her whole life ahead of her is dead.

I’m disgusted. I’m going to go cry and hold my children now.

(photo: Florida Department of Law Enforcement)