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Inside the investigation: A promise of a dress, McDonald's led to murder

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Updated: 6/24/2013 12:24 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Police say a mother of a child found dead was first lured to an area Walmart by a stranger offering to buy her a dress.

The stranger, Donald James Smith, is now charged with killing her daughter, 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.

[Special coverage: Remembering Cherish]

According to a report obtained by Action News, the girl's mother first met the suspect at a Dollar General store on Edgewood Avenue at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

He went by the name of Don.

Detectives said Don initiated a conversation with the girl's mother, asking her if she wanted a dress.

The suspect, according to the report, said his wife had a $100 gift card for Walmart but that the girl's mother would have to wait until the suspect's wife arrived to use it.

They waited at the Dollar General store but the so-called wife never arrived.

The suspect then told the girl's mother they could meet his wife at Walmart on Lem Turner Road.

Police said the woman and her children got into the suspect's vehicle and drove to Walmart.

They started shopping at Walmart. A short time later, the suspect walked away from the mother, advising her he was going to McDonald's to get something to eat.

Police say the little girl followed. The two walked out of the store and into a white older style van at 10:41 p.m.

The girl's mother told police she didn't know the man prior to the incident.

Police dispatched a helicopter, and Walmart provided surveillance video of Smith and Charish leaving the store.

A witness told police she saw a white van that matched the description of Smith's van parked behind a church in the 10400 block of Rutgers Road. As officers responded to that area, they saw Smith's van driving away.

He was pulled over and detained. His clothing matched what was shown on Walmart's video, according to the police report. His clothing was dirty and soaked with water.

Smith is scheduled to be in court Sunday morning.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

sondra65 - 6/26/2013 4:32 PM
0 Votes
I would NEVER even accept a dress from a stranger, let alone allow my own child to be around one!!! Don't these parents read or listen to the news these days??? SERIOUSLY! It was the mother's responsibility to keep that beautiful child safe!!!!!

Realchange - 6/25/2013 9:09 PM
1 Vote
Save tax payers money. If it's open shut case of man 20 or older with a 12 years or younger child that he knew was child. (I have seen a 12 year old girl pass for 21 about 14 years ago) Execute him by electric chair 3 death sentences to make sure he dies. Make damn sure he is guilty though. In cases of 12 and older depends on the type of rape as to what they should be charged with. Fla has alot sex offenders, because of the laws applied, some of them in truth are just stupid guys that didn't think properly when some young girl hit on them. Guarantee you line up 14 of the worst fry their asses all in one day, and let the media show it. There would be dramatic drop in child abduction rape /murder cases. We don't need tattoos or branding (which supreme court liberals would state is cruel and unusual punishment). A jury may deprive a man (monster actually) of life by due process and supreme court cannot stop that if it is legal. As I said before take the worst of the 14 sex offenders out there stop playing games with them and hold a monster fry you can bet some this evil stuff would stop.

LUBINND - 6/23/2013 12:31 PM
1 Vote
Tattoo these guys with the O/P right betweem the eyebrows..especially if they are gonna be released among the public..so, that everyone knows who they are....put some type GPS on them for 24/7 monitoring...putting a sign in thier front yard and posting the're in your neighbor does nothing...except send them way across town to do evil....but a marking right between there eyebrows would do a lot more....so they came to his house that morning, to do some kind a verification check and that same night he travels over to Northside with the intent to find a child...also, please explain why he was charged as an offender and not prediator in his previous crimes since they involved children....

justicenow - 6/23/2013 3:59 AM
1 Vote
Justice will be done in jail because there is no justice in our system. They need to do like they dif in the old dayd kill them or start taking limbs. I beleive that should be done. There is no morals, nor any boundries for people anymore. Always the children suffer. Sad and corrupt world we live in. We the people have to unite. That is the only way justice will prevail. To much corrupt dictatorship!

imtellin - 6/23/2013 3:01 AM
2 Votes
well, dear old mom doesn't sound like the brightest bulb in the chandelier to begin with.. doesn't excuse what this creep did to that little girl.. i think most fathers with children would like 5 minutes or less with mr. smith,, and fathers with daughters even less.. the laws on these offenses need to be stronger, the penalties longer. or bracelets on ankles as a condition of release.. mr. smith can expect justice upon his arrival back in prison..

Scienide - 6/23/2013 1:26 AM
1 Vote
What a creep!! You can't trust anyone anymore. I am sure these types of crimes have gone on ever since the beginning, but with more news coverage, we get to see the results of them live on the air. You would think people would be a lot more defensive.
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