For the first time, we’re seeing the final hours of Cherish Perrywinkle’s life caught on surveillance video.
The 8-year-old girl was abducted, raped and killed in 2013.
Her accused killer, Donald Smith, is still awaiting trial.
One video shows Rayne Perrywinkle and her three daughters shopping at the Dollar General where Rayne Perrywinkle said they met Donald Smith.
She said she was struggling to afford clothes for her daughters and Smith overheard and offered to buy them for her at the Walmart at Lem Turner Road.
“He couldn’t care less about any of that. He’s eyeing this little girl right here. That’s where his mind, his attention is -- all on Cherish,” said Action New Jax Crime and Safety expert Ken Jefferson.
Later when her mother calls 911, she recalls a red flag from when they were shopping together in the shoe aisle at Walmart.
“He wanted her to buy these really tall shoes that were women’s shoes and I told him no. I said, ‘They’re too high for her.’ I wouldn’t even wear shoes that high. Maybe he was grooming her. I hope to God he doesn’t kill her and I hope to God he doesn’t rape her,” Rayne Perrywinkle told the dispatcher.
“Well, the fact that he wanted an 8-year-old to get some high heels that she normally wouldn’t wear shows to you the perverted nature that he has. He wants to dress her up, put her in heels as though she was a woman, a mature woman,” said Jefferson, who used to investigate sex crimes.
The surveillance video shows Cherish Perrywinkle and a man who appears to be Donald Smith walk away from the rest of her family together.
Another camera shows them stop outside the McDonald’s inside the store for about 40 seconds, then walk out the front doors together.
A surveillance camera in the Walmart parking lot shows them walk to his van.
“What we know now is that he’s actually walking her to her death,” said Jefferson.
It took more than 11 minutes for JSO officers to respond to the Walmart after Cherish Perrywinkle’s mother dialed 911.
JSO has long said its slow reaction to her disappearance was because they were suspicious of whether her mother was telling the truth.
A seven-week internal investigation revealed JSO doubted Rayne Perrywinkle’s story partially because she was in a custody battle.
It took hours to notify the media and send out an Amber Alert.
Six JSO officers were disciplined.
“If there’s a doubt in your mind as law enforcement whether or not she’s telling the truth, still follow through immediately to try to find that little child. If you find out that she is lying, you go back and you charge her with giving false information to a law enforcement officer,” said Jefferson.
“If they would have done their job in the beginning and not blame me for it and do the proper steps, Cherish would still be here,” Rayne Perrywinkle told Action News Jax in 2013.
Jefferson said those lessons learned made a big difference for how JSO responded to Lonzie Barton’s disappearance.
“They responded properly, quickly with the Lonzie Barton case. They deployed all types of resources looking for this young child,” said Jefferson.
Smith's trial was supposed to start in less than two weeks, but it's been delayed.
He has a court appearance next month.
Cox Media Group