Perrywinkle: 'I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy'


Rayne Perrywinkle 09-04-13
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office admits it made mistakes during the Cherish Perrywinkle investigation.

Police said 8-year-old Cherish was kidnapped from a Northside Walmart and killed by a registered sex offender.

A JSO internal investigation shows the mistakes started as soon as Cherish's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, called 911 the night of June 21. She reported her daughter had been kidnapped.

"I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy," she said.

She said she told the dispatcher she was afraid her daughter would be raped and killed.

In documents obtained by Action News, the dispatcher said she didn't believe her. Officer P.L. Robinson said the call "didn't seem real."

"When someone calls 911, that their child is missing, I want immediate action," Perrywinkle said.

The documents show Officer Robinson issued the signal for a missing person, not a kidnapping, which would have warranted more police attention.

When asked why she didn't include the fact that the mother feared her child would die, Officer Robinson said she couldn't give a reason.

"No, I just felt like she needed to talk, so I let her talk," she said.

"They don't trust people," said family friend Bruce Conway. "They don't believe the people. They're too busy. They don't have enough police officers."

Conway said he and his wife knew immediately JSO wasn't doing all it could to find Cherish. They noticed a delay in news coverage. Cherish had been missing for hours before they saw it on TV.

"If my child is missing, I don't care whether it's right, wrong, indifferent, I want you to put this on the news," Conway said.

JSO is now admitting its officers made mistakes. A total of six officers have been disciplined.  The 911 dispatcher was suspended for three days.

Two high-ranking detectives were also disciplined -- Sgt. Lonnie Mills and Lt. Rob Schoonover -- were also disciplined.  Both are veterans of JSO with decades of experience. Their mistakes boiled down to communication and doubt.

The report said Mills was in charge that night.  The report said Mills and other investigators doubted Rayne Perrywinkle's story and that she acted strangely.

They worried she could be in a custody battle and was trying to hide Cherish because the little girl was set to go visit her father in California the following day.

Still, Mills knew a child was missing and something had to be done. He called his superior, Lt. Schoonover, who had just returned from vacation.

The report details phone calls that were made between Schoonover and Mills. But it also says Schoonover went back to sleep, leaving Mills to manage the scene alone.

As a result, they were late deploying resources, late issuing an Amber Alert, and late notifying the media.

Now, a mother has the rest of her life to wonder what if they had done something sooner.

"If they would have done their job in the beginning and not blamed me for it, and do the proper steps, Cherish would still be here," said Perrywinkle.

Schoonover was suspended for three days, and was moved off the homicide unit to the patrol unit. JSO says that's a lateral move, not a demotion.

Mills was reprimanded, and also moved off homicide to patrol.