JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The father of Cherish Perrywinkle is planning to come to Jacksonville to bury his daughter.
As Action News was first to tell you, his reunion with Cherish’s mother could be difficult.
Cherish and her mother were shopping for clothes the night before the 8-year-old was scheduled to fly to California for the summer.
A trip to see her father, Billy Jarreau. A trip she never got to make.
“He was going to pick her up at six in the morning and instead he received a phone call from detectives that they found his daughter dead,” said Gerald Wilkerson, Jarreau’s attorney.
A death, Wilkerson, claims would have been prevented if cherish was in the right hands.
I've learned through court documents, Cherish's parents have been entangled in a bitter custody battle since 2007.
The court ruled in the mother's favor. "It was hard for the court to really see it was a good idea to send the child to California with my client," says Wilkerson, "The mother in this case just didn't have any way to pay for transportation, so she'd probably never see her daughter again."
According to the documents provided by Wilkerson from Duval county schools, Cherish missed 18 days of school in one semester.
“My client was contacted by the school that the child had head lice and she wasn't allowed to ride the bus. She still sent the child to school and that resulted in the child being stranded twice at the school,” said Wilkerson.
Wilkerson says it's just one of many issues surrounding a problematic parental track record. “We believe the child would be alive today if he had custody of her."
"I couldn't ask for a better mother," said Ahron Pearson.
Pearson has two children with Cherish's mother.
He tells me Jarreau's accusations are challis and cold. And claims Jarreau offered him money to adopt his daughter.
As a community mourns the loss of a beloved little girl, Pearson says now is a time for grieving not pointing fingers. “This is a moment where people are upset and the fact that he called Cherish's mother telling her how dare you do this, this is your fault. Then he called me and said I knew this would happen, I hope you rot in hell."
Jarreau is also speaking out on Facebook. In a message posted Saturday he wrote, "To everyone I am trying to stay politically correct and not express my true feelings of how our great system caused this. I spent many years in the court presenting issues and being ignored and told I was trying to hurt the mother. Now, the truth of the great mother is out. It was at the cost of my child's life. RIP young lady. my nick name for her."
Jarreau's attorney says he will make the trip to Jacksonville from California for her funeral.