In June of 2013, eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle was abducted from a Jacksonville Walmart. Her mother Rayne had taken her children shopping for new clothes on the night of June 21st when she met an older man who offered to help them get better deals. Little did Rayne know that this chance encounter would be the last time she would see her daughter alive.
Cherish’s abduction triggered a massive search effort and attracted national media attention. Although investigators worked tirelessly to find Cherish, they were unable to locate her in time. Tragically, it was not until two days later that her body was discovered near a church in Jacksonville.
The perpetrator of this horrific crime was Donald Smith, a previously convicted sex offender who had managed to elude authorities for several years after violating his probation terms earlier in 2013. Smith was arrested and charged with Cherish’s murder and sentenced to death in 2018 by electric chair—the first death sentence imposed in Duval County since 2000.
The story of Cherish Perrywinkle is tragically familiar yet remains one of the most heartbreaking cases of child abduction in recent memory. A documentary film entitled “Cherish” has been released that sheds light on all aspects of this tragedy and offers an insight into how such a terrible thing could happen. It is a must-see for anyone interested in learning more about how we can prevent similar tragedies from happening again in the future and gives us all hope that justice can be served even in cases as devastating as these.