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Memorial growing outside of Highlands Baptist Church

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Updated: 6/24/2013 12:25 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The mother of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle tells Action News that her daughter's murder has been an emotional nightmare.

Rayne Perrywinkle stopped by a roadside memorial for her daugher Saturday night.  Flowers, teddy bears and notes of encouragement line the sidewalk in front of Highlands Baptist Church on Broward Avenue. The church is near the wooded lot where the girl's body was found Saturday morning.

[Special coverage: Remembering Cherish]

"Thank you to everyone for all your thoughts and prayers," she told the dozen strangers who were gathered when she arrived. "My little girl, I just don't know why, why?"

Perrywinkle was very emotional, and Action News respected her wishes not to go on camera, but she approached our reporters to share more about what happened Friday night.

Rayne Perrywinkle tells Action News that Donald Smith approached her inside the Dollar General on Edgewood Avenue, after he overheard her telling her daughter that she couldn't afford a dress the girl was asking for.

"He saw me putting things back because I couldn't afford them, and he offered to help me pay for some other items with a Walmart gift card that his wife had. We waited in that parking lot for a long time for her to come to the store, but then he said she [his wife] wanted him to meet her at the Walmart."

Perrywinkle told Action News she thought Smith was "creepy and annoying," but eventually seemed genuine in his offer to help.

"Part of me wanted to believe this was a blessing for my children, and that's what I kept telling myself, but when we got in the car I felt very tense and was sitting straight up."

Perrywinkle says she felt uneasy as soon as she got into Smith's van.

Perrywinkle says Smith continued to follow her every move inside the Walmart and insisted his wife was on her way.  As they waited for his "wife" to arrive, he yelled "from across the way" and said he was going to McDonald's for a burger.

"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. He was creepy, so I wouldn't have let her go, I just didn't realize she was gone."

Director Mike Williams of the JSO's Investigations and Homeland Security Division said Saturday that the amount of time between Cherish's disappearance and the time her mother called 911 for help was "not long."

The roadside memorial honoring Cherish will likely grow in size Sunday when a vigil is hosted by The Justice Coalition is held. The time has not yet been confirmed.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Perla 2012 - 6/26/2013 1:33 AM
0 Votes
Parents please have your children like a purse ful of cash under your arm-pit why you don't leave your purse everywhere ????. Please parents don't be stupied sorry, but I'm very very upset):

georgiagurl - 6/23/2013 12:31 PM
2 Votes
I really hate what this beast did to Charish and her family. My family and I extend our deepest condolences.

georgiagurl - 6/23/2013 12:07 PM
2 Votes
I do feel sorry for the mom over the loss of her daughter, but let this be a lesson to other mothers to not become so desperate and fall for any promise of clothes, food, etc, that you forget to protect your children, especially if the person making the promise is "creepy and annoying".

hkolln - 6/23/2013 11:35 AM
3 Votes
ALWAYS, ALWAYS listen to your gut feelings!!! The dress is not worth the safety of your child. And from what I've read elsewhere she called police after 30 mins of her daughter being gone but here she says she didn't know she went with him? I ALWAYS know where my children are and they are always with me. This story makes no sense to me. Maybe I'm missing something. This story is just so sad and tragic.

darkandlovely - 6/23/2013 9:33 AM
2 Votes
You don't trust when your instincts say different. My daughter would have to go without the dress until I could afford it. By her own admission, she thought the guy creepy. ALWAYS listen to your instincts. It's when you second guess yourself that leads to trouble. So sad.

pinamia - 6/23/2013 9:21 AM
2 Votes
This man could have killed her whole family. Don't blame the mom. She thought there was some good in this world and thought this man would help her out instead he killed her child. There comes a time where we all have to trust. Do you think he left her by a church by accident? The devil tries to destroy our trust so we become less and less human. And the comments on these boards are not of humans but of evil tongued snakes. RIP Charish. I'm praying for your mom and family. They need prayers so they can go on. I pray the healing power of Jesus can help you. A big hug to you all. I'm sorry for your loss. Don't give up on people.

irinabj - 6/23/2013 12:32 AM
2 Votes
Should we assume she called 911 a minute after the daughter disappeared from her sight? Wasn't it like a span of 30 minutes between the two events (mcdonald's comment and 911 call)? If I felt the guy was 'creepy' I would have not climbed in his van with the three kids! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Now the mother tries to change her story so she would not go to jail??? WTF?
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