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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shannon's Soapbox: Who's on your street?

I don't usually post a blog entry while on a soapbox, in fact I've been completely lax on even posting an entry.  Hopefully I'll post even more soon, but on to what this entry is about.  

I'm writing this entry due to recent local events; an 8 year old (Cherish Perrywinkle) was taken from her mother in a Wal-mart and her body was later found near a church in Jacksonville, FL.  In case you haven't heard about it yet, here's a brief summary of the articles I've read:  Cherish's mother was in Dollar General with Cherish and her sister's on Friday night.  Cherish was supposed to fly to her dad's house the following morning and wanted a new dress which her mother said they could not afford.  In comes Donald Smith who told the mother that his wife has a gift card to Wal-mart and they could help them get some food and clothing if they rode with him to Wal-Mart to meetup with his "wife."  

Once at Wal-Mart, Donald walked off with Cherish to take her to the McDonald's...though he never returned with her.  At 11pm the mother called the police to report her child had been kidnapped.  An Amber Alert was issued, but unfortunately the outcome was Cherish's body was found near a church.

The whole story is heartbreaking.  Come to find out Donald is a registered sex offender.  He was just released on May 31.  Only 21 days before these tragic events happened!! Twenty-one days, not even a month!  On the SAME DAY of these events, he met with police to comply with a state law that requires sex offenders to verify their address once a year and was reminded he could not be around children.  He's been convicted more then once; in 1977 for lewd and lascivious behavior on a child under 16, in 1993 when he tried to lure three young girls into his pornography-filled van (he served 5 years), and in 2009 when he attempted to kidnap a 9 year old when he called their house and pretended to be a Department of Children and Families employee and needed to pick up and check out the girl.  Thankfully the family was suspicious and he failed to kidnap her, and he served a year for the attempt.  

Looking at these events and the history of this monster; I think the laws need to be looked at for sexual offenders/predators.  Especially repeat offenders!

Parents: educate your children not to go away with strangers, and lead by example!  In this case the mother got into the car with this stranger with her kids!  It's one thing when you put your own life in danger, but it's your responsibility to keep your children safe.  I'm not going to bash on the mother because I'm sure she's hurting from her grief, but I hope that her mistakes teach others that may have done the same thing she did if they were in the same situation.  Don't accept candy from strangers!  Candy, clothes, food, money...if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is too good to be true.

Be aware of your surroundings!  Did you know that each state has an online database of registered offenders?  It may or may not have helped in this case but it doesn't hurt to be aware of potential threats in your area.  Granted, there are sick people out there that haven't done something yet, but you can still be aware of the ones that have.  

I searched the Florida database to find offenders living within a 5 mile radius.  I was shocked to learn there's 163 offenders within 5 miles of where I live!

 Do you know who's on your street?
Did you do a search?  Were you surprised by the results?

Feel free to share this entry, at the very least share the link to the national registry list so others can check their surroundings!