The discovery of missing 8-year-old girl Cherish Perrywinkle's body over the weekend was the ending to the story no one wanted to hear. But the more we hear from Florida police about Donald James Smith, the 56-year-old registered sex offender they think killed her, the more inevitable tragedy seems.
Smith is the man who met Perrywinkle's mother in a dollar store Friday night and apparently convinced her he was some sort of good Samaritan, offering to buy food and clothes for her and her four kids. At some point Cherish (who was first identified in an Amber Alert as Charish) allegedly left a Wal-Mart with Smith on her own mom's OK.
Why she said yes is anyone's guess. Maybe she was overwhelmed with four kids on a hot summer night and not thinking straight. Maybe she really believed this guy was a good guy.
Now we know her 8-year-old daughter is dead, and the monster is not Cherish's mom. It's Donald Smith.
Because whether he's responsible for killing this little girl and abandoning her body in the woods near a church or not, we now know this man out of prison, out walking the streets and mingling with average families, is pure evil.
According to reports of Donald Smith's sordid past:
1. In 1993, Smith was added to the sex offender registry after being convicted of attempted kidnapping and selling obscene materials.
2. After that conviction, Smith didn't keep his nose clean. He's had a series of arrests over the past 20 years.
3. His latest offense was a charge of child abuse in 2009 after making obscene phone calls to a 10-year-old girl, making verbal threats, and impersonating a social worker with the Florida Department of Children and Families who claimed to be investigating the girl's family.
4. Smith only left jail on May 29 after his latest tangle with the law, and on the very day Cherish went missing, he met with police to comply with a state law that requires sex offenders to verify their address once a year. He had been reminded that very day not to be around kids ... and yet the evidence point to him violating that order. He knew the rules and he allegedly ignored them completely!
At least we'd like to think that a meeting with cops should be enough to keep sex offenders on the straight and narrow for a few days ... at least. But even if he just cozied up to Cherish's mom, it looks like Smith was already up to his old tricks within hours of talking to the police!
Whether he killed Cherish or not, this is not a guy we want walking around on the streets, going to dollar stores where we take our kids. Now he's locked up with no bail and likely won't be out any time soon. Now kids are safer.
But what does that do for little Cherish?
It's tragic that it took the death of a little girl to make the courts realize that.
What do you make of this man being out of prison to begin with?
Image via police
Going to baseball games
Riding bike rides in the nice weather
Playing outside after work/school
Going for walks outside