Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Undeserved Trust…Unbelievable Loss

on June 25, 2013


Charish Perriwinkle

I watched the news yesterday, and once again, was disgusted to find that another small child had been abducted and killed by a registered sexual offender.  I shook my head as the details were reported on how this horrible man was able to get his hands on an innocent child.  Another unbelievable loss that never should have happened.

Charish Perriwinkle and her mother were shopping in a dollar store when a man, Donald James Smith, befriended the mom and offered to help her out by buying clothes at a local Wal-mart.  The three traveled to Wal-mart and had spent a couple of hours shopping when Smith suggested that he go get some burgers from the McDonald’s located in the store.  He offered to take Charish with him and then proceeded to walk with the child out the front door.

Charish’s body was discovered on the grounds of a church, where police had responded to a report of a suspicious van in the area.   A short time later, a policewoman spotted Smith’s van as it passed her and he was stopped and arrested on suspicion of murder.  Bail has been denied and he is awaiting trial.

As a mother, my first question was how could the mother let a complete stranger take her daughter away to be raped and killed?  How could she have trusted a man she knew nothing about whisk her child out of her life?  The Internet is screaming with condemnation of a mother who misplaced her trust and lost her child in such a horrific manner.

Before we judge her, however, we need to consider the man responsible for this crime.  Smith had a long history of sexual offenses and had just been released from prison on May 31.  He has been a registered sex offender since 1993.  He was convicted for attempted kidnapping and selling obscene materials.  Several arrests later, he was convicted on charges of child abuse when he made obscene phone calls to a ten year old girl.  He pled guilty to impersonating a public employee and aggravated child abuse by willful torture.  He served a year in the county jail until he was released in May.

This man was a predator, wise to the ways of appearing to be a stranger willing to perform a random act of kindness to a mother and her kids during hard times.  He wooed her with his offer of help for her kids and spent hours with her to build up an undeserved trust.  Yes, the mother made a fatal mistake when she agreed to have Charish accompany him to McDonald’s.  For all we know, the restaurant might have been in her view and she got distracted for a few minutes while Smith took her daughter out of her life forever.

This mother will have to live with the guilt and the torture of knowing that her one moment of giving a stranger her undeserved trust cost her daughter her life.  She has to live with that and feel the pain of her loss every day from here on end.  We don’t need to add to her grief by judging her for her mistake.

What we do need to do is question how this vile, despicable man with a long list of sexual offenses against children was released to commit such a heinous crime?  How many times does it take for a sexual predator to be arrested before he is incarcerated for life to prevent him from harming one more innocent child?

Evidently, the answer is when he finally rapes and murders an eight year old little girl and gets caught.

It has been proven, over and over, that pedophiles CAN NOT be rehabilitated.  It just isn’t possible, experts have said over and over again.  So, why are these sexual predators released, time and again, to hurt our children?  When are lawmakers going to wake up and start protecting our children and not the criminals who prey on the innocent?

I hope the answer comes before another mother places her undeserved trust in a stranger and winds up experiencing the unbelievable loss of her child.

This post is dedicated to Bloggers For Peace.  Check out a great site “I am for Change” – you won’t be sorry!

32 responses to “Undeserved Trust…Unbelievable Loss

  1. Bastet says:

    What a complete and utter horror…people are quick to judge, until they find themselves in similar situations. I’m horrified by the law, the criminal act and the public for all their senseless holier than thou attitude.

  2. btg5885 says:

    This breaks your heart. Most predators do not foam at the mouth. They are appear very trustworthy and befriend you. That is why this is so scary. BTG

    • I was so scared by the fact that these predators are allowed to walk around free, I was unable to sleep and thought I would feel better writing about the case. I don’t. I feel scared and worried that these predators are even now lining up a poor innocent. Hard to shake the feeling!

  3. Sallyann says:

    These predators are some of the most manipulative beings on the planet. They spend their time grooming and deceiving the whole of society. I really do feel for the mother, she was taken in by an expert.
    I don’t believe these monsters should be locked up at all, they are what they are and no amount of counselling is going to change that … I believe they should just be shot.

  4. Anyone that ever has been fooled by a conman will know that even the most alert among us are going to slip up. I don’t have the answer but remember the approach taken in Minority Report. Can we stop appalling crimes like this by proactively removing dangerous people? One thing is for sure, the society has failed this girl and her mother.Very sad.

  5. I dont think its so easy to fix, and tougher laws wont make much of a difference, if youre really commited to do something youre just going to do it, even if you get shot later.
    The fast solution most people can think of is blaming the mother, I dont know the details of that case but I feel its kind of bad luck, its difficult to close all the doors and windows, isolating yourself from society in order to be protected, you have to put some trust out there one way or another, you cannot walk down a street, watch all the time over your back and check all the blind spots.
    Did the mother act wrong by trusting a stranger? probably but I dont know, I wasnt there, I dont know how well he deceived her her.
    “pedophiles CAN NOT be rehabilitated” I dont think that works in a court, you cannot prejudge someone.
    The only solution I can think of its caretakers learning from her tragic experience, and better mental health care, but thats another whole disgusting topic. I also get the feeling it would be better to do something about the corruption that allows the black market of kids.

    • There are no quick and easy answers, but I hope that someday, someone will find a way that we can protect our children from pedophiles. I am an’s just how I roll!

      Thanks for reading and your comments. Always appreciated.

  6. I used to be a child protection worker. Most pedophiles are not strangers, they are family members or individuals well known to the family. That’s the first thing to remember. Your child is more likely to be sexually assaulted by your friends, neighbors, relatives, youth ministers, minister, and day care workers than by a stranger. When my daughter was in after school daycare in Anchorage there was a worker there I just had a bad feeling about. I knew his Dad and still, this guy just gave me the creeps. I told my daughter to NEVER, under any circumstances, be alone with him. He molested every child in the group other than her. He molested the daughter of a federal judge. Call it child protection worker radar… I dunno. Molesters tend to work in jobs that give them access to kids. A point to ponder.

    At this point in time there is no cure for pedophila. Because of this I advocate life sentences or lifelong confinement in psychiatric facilities. It is a hardwiring problem. That being said, I do know two individuals who were wrongly convicted of a sex offense (not against a child under the age of 14) – so one conviction alone doesn’t necessarily mean lock ’em up and throw the key away.

    Pedophiles tend to be very smooth. They are the ultimate con artists. It is easy to point fingers at parents who make what in hindsight are stupid mistakes. Very few people are discriminating about those they meet. I often comment that if we understood how little most people actually THINK we’d be shocked – or perhaps not. I know in my years of social work that people make decisions that are not based on logic.

    • I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve written..I agree even more with the need to lock up these individuals for life.

      But, we must be sure they are guilty of the crime before deciding to throw away the key. In the case I’ve cited, the pedophile had a long, long, list of offenses. He never should have been released.

      • I agree that someone with a long history of pedophelia should never have been released. There is no cure and peds will kill to keep from going back to jail. Sadly, man pedophiles were themselves victims. Some of them, if treated early, can be helped. Others are hardwired wrong and for them there is no hope.

  7. Basharr says:

    I think it must be stated that though the mother made a poor choice in placing her trust in this man, we must all understand how cunning child predators are. Here in Ca we have, now it might sound freaky but I look at the list of predators in my town and because of that I ceased doing business with the guy who had been working on our van whenever it needed a tune up because he was on the list. I want to know who is on that list because I do not want anyone harming my grand children.

    I believe sex crimes against anyone are horrid, but on a child, a crime that should be punishable by death. My heart goes out to this mother, and to all parents who find themselves in the situation this mother is in. The courts are entirely too weak when it comes to punishing these animals that would prey upon our children. The world we live in has changed since I was a kid, In the world today you don’t dare blink for fear your child could be gone that fast.

    My heart aches for this woman, but even more so for the 8 yearld girl and the terror she must have gone through ….Sickening.

    • We also can access sexual offenders name and locations here in Florida. This poor mom just put her trust in the wrong person and her daughter paid a horrific price.

      Yes, it is most definitely sickening..and so is the thought that this man served a short one year sentence for sexual crimes against a child! What was the judge thinking?

      • What was the judge thinking? Depends on the crime, honestly. There are guidelines for judges to follow. There is a huge difference between raping a child and perhaps inappropriately touching a child over clothing. How old was the child? What was the level of harm? I suppose as an attorney, I pay more attention to the application of factors. Sentencing is a complex issue and not as simple as non-lawyers may think.

      • He made obscene phone calls to a ten year old and then posed as a worker from DCF to entice the family to turn the girl over to him. Luckily, they were not fooled and reported him to the police.

    • Due to the way the law is structured in the United States, sex crimes, even those against children, are not punishable by death unless there is a death. Again, what we need to understand is that “these animals” are often the step-parents, uncles, aunts (women do predate), brothers, sisters, etc. of the children who are abused.

      We look at stranger attack as the dominant form of child sexual assault when it is not. Most sex offenders know a child relatively well and groom the child over a period of time.

      In reality, the world is no different now than it was when I was a kid 60 years ago. My Dad was an FBI agent and a judge. I was a child protection worker in the 70’s when it was really a developing field and judges did not want to believe that fathers raped their daughters, mothers had sex with their sons, and that sexual assault of children was common.

      What we have now is more public awareness and heightened sensitivity to the issues of child molestation. Human history is one long, sad tale of child abuse and child sexual abuse.

      • I believe that you and I are of the same age; and I often wonder if the we were sheltered by the lack of technology the news media had in those days or if the crimes were just unreported.

      • My father was a judge. The news simply didn’t report on what was going on. It was not considered appropriate to report on. Further, people were allowed to do with kids what they wanted. There were laws on the books to protect animals before there were laws on the books to protect children. The first child protection cases in the US used animal protection laws. Children had no rights and we did not hold children in the esteem we do today.

  8. Basharr says:

    There are many judges who do not hand out sentences that fit the crime when it comes to sex offenders. Our children are the future of this nation, They should be treated as such by the judges overseeing these horrific cases.

  9. Judges have limits on what they can do regarding sentencing. For one thing, there is always a report from probation as to the recommendation on sentencing, for another, one must consider the background of the individual, and so on and so forth. Judges have been regulated by the state legislatures and congress as to the limits of what they can sentence. If you’re not in the legal field it seem that judges can do anything – they cannot.

  10. awful awful awful My heart aches for the Mothers who loose children to mean monsters. The system is crippled, need strong people prosecuting and judges who can lock them up forever!

  11. And we tell our children to never, ever go anywhere with a stranger… what a sad story, for the child and the mother, and society as a whole. How awful that people like this are allowed the opportunity to give life another go; he didn’t deserve that chance.

  12. Patty O says:

    Excellent, Excellent post. Prayers to Charish’s Mom for peace and forgiveness towards herself. And I completely agree – they can NOT be rehabilitated.

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