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Suspect in Cherish Perrywinkle murder has long criminal history
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Suspect in Cherish Perrywinkle murder has long criminal history

Suspect in Cherish Perrywinkle murder has long criminal history
Photo Credit: Jacksonville Sherrif's Office
Donald James Smith was apprehended by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Saturday morning and is being questioned in his connection to the kidnapping of Cherish Perriwinkle.

Suspect in Cherish Perrywinkle murder has long criminal history

The man arrested for the abduction and murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle is a known sex offender and has tried to lure children before.

Our partner Action News reports Donald J. Smith tried to lure a young girl away from her mother in 2009. Smith, posing as a DCF worker, called a local mom saying he needed to speak with her child. The mother got suspicious and called police.  Smith was arrested.

Last year he pleaded guilty to attempted impersonation of a public employee and attempted child abuse by mental harm.  He was sentenced to one year for each count, but with time served, he was out of jail within a year.  Smith was released from jail on May 31 of this year.  He was out for just 21 days before Cherish was found dead.

The mother in the 2009 case told Action News today she is heartbroken and terrified, saying this could've been her daughter four years ago. Stephanie Boggs wonders why Smith was out of prison at all.

Smith's criminal past with children goes back decades.

Records show he was convicted in 1977 for lewd and lascivious behavior on a child under 16.

He was sentenced to five years in prison in 1993 for attempted kidnapping of a minor. He tried to lure three little girls into a van filled with pornography. When he was released, Smith had to register as a sex offender.

Police told Action News that Smith was not on probation during the time of Cherish's disappearance, but he was on JSO's radar while he lived at his registered address on Segovia Avenue.  Around 1 p.m., a woman at that home, believed to be Smith's mother, was led away by police.

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