An 8-year-old missing girl has been found murdered after she was abducted from a Walmart by a known sex offender who had only been out of prison for three weeks. Horrible enough. Tragic enough. But what makes this story particularly strange is that little Cherish Perrywinkle wasn't exactly "abducted." She had reportedly been given over to suspect Donald Smith willingly by her mother -- who had become friends with Smith in a Walmart and apparently let her little girl go with the man alone to another part of the store.
Reports say that 56-year-old Smith, a longtime sex offender who had only been out of prison for three weeks, befriended Cherish and her family -- her mom and three sisters -- in a Jacksonville, Florida Walmart. He then talked Cherish's mom into allowing him to take Cherish to the front of the store, where a McDonalds was located, for a snack. The two then disappeared.
Less than an hour later, she was reportedly dead. Her body was found near a local church.
Normally when I hear about tragedies involving children that could have been avoided with more vigilance, responsibility and common sense, I try not to judge.
BUT WHAT THE HELL?! Why would mom let her child go anywhere with a man she had just met?
If reports are correct, the mother was alone with four kids. Did she get overwhelmed and welcomed the idea of someone taking care of her child for awhile? Was Donald Smith particularly unthreatening-looking and persuasive? Was the mom having a really rough day and just had a momentary lack of judgment?
News reports can get things wrong, so perhaps there was something different that went on here.
No doubt this mother will be punished enough with guilt and heartbreak. In our moment of outrage over this possible lack of common sense, let's remember that it's the adult man who allegedly perpetrated this horrific crime. It is difficult to go around trusting no one. We do sometimes feel we're being silly and paranoid when someone new tries to be nice to us and we're suspicious of it. I'm trying to understand this. But I just don't.
What do you think happened here?
Editor's Note: Cherish's name has been corrected from its original misspelling.
Image via Amber Alert