Police gather at the Highlands Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. on June 22 where authorities said the body of...
Police gather at the Highlands Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. on June 22 where authorities said the body of 8-year-old Charish Perriwinkle was found.
Photo credit: AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey
A registered sex offender has been charged with murder and kidnapping after an 8-year-old Florida girl was found dead near a church in Jacksonville early Saturday.
Charish Perriwinkle of Jacksonville went missing while shopping with her mother at a Walmart around 11 p.m. Friday.
Donald James Smith, 56, of Jacksonville is accused of abducting and killing Charish, then dumping her body, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Smith was released from jail May 31 after serving 438 days on felony charges of child abuse and unlawful impersonation of a public employee, according to the Sheriff's Office jail database.
Charish's mother told deputies she met Smith for the first time Friday night. He offered to buy the family clothes, deputies said, so they went with him to Walmart.
Once inside the store, Smith and Charish were going to buy hamburgers at the McDonald's in Walmart, according to deputies. Smith kept walking, though, and left the store with Charish.
Charish's mother called police and gave them a description of Smith and his van.
When she was shown a picture of Smith, deputies said, she identified him as the person who had taken Charish.
Officials issued a statewide Amber Alert for Charish at 6 a.m. Saturday, and Smith was taken into custody shortly after 9 a.m. He was stopped traveling south on Interstate 95 near I-10 in Jacksonville.
Investigators discovered Charish's body near a church about 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
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