Donald Smith was found guilty of abducting, raping and killing eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle after he lured her away from her mother in June of 2013. Picture: Bob Self
Donald Smith was found guilty of abducting, raping and killing eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle after he lured her away from her mother in June of 2013. Picture: Bob Self

Killer’s sick reason for murder

"I KNOW you're in there, little b**ch, I'm going to find you."

These are the terrifying words of a killer stalking his victim as she made her daring escape.

A woman who was almost kidnapped by the same monster who strangled a little girl to death after luring her from a Walmart shopping centre has described the awful series of events that led to her abduction attempt.

Kerri Anne Buck was 13 when Donald Smith, who was last week found guilty of first degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery of Cherish Perrywinkle, 8, tried to pull her into a van.

As court proceedings for Mr Smith enter the sentencing phase, Ms Buck tearfully told jurors how Mr Smith had made the attempt while she walking to a friend's house on a Sunday morning in 1992.

The van, complete with tinted windows, pulled up next to Ms Buck. Smith, then 37, began to ask her questions in a "mean and scary" voice.

"He was coming toward me, and he stopped. he asked if I knew a girl named Susie," Ms Buck told Assistant State Attorney Mark Caliel.

"He demanded that I get in the van. He told me to get the f**k in the van."

 

Ms Buck said she then ran for her life, while Smith chased after her. When nobody was home at her friend's house, she managed to hide away in a park in a tube slide but said: "I was scared, I was slipping, I was afraid I would fall out and he would find me."

When she could hear Smith approach the park, she heard him say: "I know you're in there little b**tch, I'm going to find you."

Ms Buck said that in the weeks that followed, Smith parked outside her house in the same van.

He was later tried and convicted of attempted kidnapping and served several years in prison.

"He looked at me like he was going to kill me," Ms Buck said. "I will never forget his face."

 

Last week, it took a jury just 14 minutes to find Smith guilty, after viewing countless graphic images of Cherish Perrywinkle's battered body that often left them in tears.

Smith now faces the death penalty after he lured the little girl to her death in an American shopping centre while out shopping in June, 2013.

Last year, video released by the State's Attorney Office in Florida, US, showed horrifying CCTV footage in which Cherish and her mother and sisters are approached by Smith at a Walmart in Jacksonville, Florida.

It was the last time eight-year-old Cherish was seen alive.

She suffered severe injuries, abrasions and contusions to her body after being strangled with a piece of clothing, tortured and raped.

Donald Smith enters the courtroom for the start of the second day of his trial for the rape and murder of eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in Jacksonville, Florida. Picture: Bob Self
Donald Smith enters the courtroom for the start of the second day of his trial for the rape and murder of eight-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in Jacksonville, Florida. Picture: Bob Self

Before the court proceedings began Smith's lawyer asked that his client, who was shackled and dressed in an orange jumpsuit, be uncuffed so he "could take notes".

It's all a clever ploy though; he could wear civilian clothes but "wearing jail clothing is part of the defence strategy", according to Action News' reporter on the scene, Bridgette Matter.

His lawyers argued Smith suffers from a severe mental illness and that in the two weeks before Cherish's murder, he was on a cocaine binge and had begun to have ideas about killing his drug dealer.

But Dr Heather Holmes, a clinical and forensic psychologist, testified that during disturbing conversations with Smith, he "did not exhibit remorse" and "can't be cured".

He is "one of the most dangerous" people she had ever evaluated and was "manipulative, lacked empathy and remorse".

He was also "angry with Cherish for getting in the van with him".

The little girl is led out of the Walmart and to her death.
The little girl is led out of the Walmart and to her death.

Ms Holmes diagnosed Smith with anti-social personality, borderline personality features and a pedophilic disorder, describing an attraction to prepubescent female children.

Even Smith's lawyer described him as "sick".

He also has a severe cocaine abuse disorder, and is addicted to the drug.

Two weeks before Cherish's murder he tried to enact an emergency or involuntary commitment to hospital because "he felt that he was not safe, he reported being unable to get off cocaine, go to sleep and having homicidal thoughts".

Clinical pharmacologist Dr Daniel Buffington also testified that Smith used cocaine in a bathroom at the Walmart on the fateful night he kidnapped and killed Cherish.

He said Smith had "snapshot memories" of that night but remembered the moment after killing the little girl, he thought to himself: "F**k, I'm a convicted sex offender how am I going to explain this?".

 

Smith lured both Cherish and her mother by offering to buy them new clothes. Cherish's mother later told police she was struggling to buy clothes for her daughters when Smith overheard and offered to buy them for her.

Hours later, at 11.18pm that evening, the girl's mother, Rayne, called 911 desperately looking for the child, whom she says was last seen in the company of Smith.

CCTV footage shows the little girl being led across the store's car park by Smith.

"She died after she sustained tremendous force on her neck such that she could not breathe," Jacksonville chief medical examiner Dr Valerie Rao had earlier told the court.

Rayne Perrywinkle, second left, the mother of Cherish Perrywinkle reacts to the first verdict of guilty in Donald Smith's trial for the brutal rape and murder in the Duval County courtroom of Judge Mallory Cooper. Picture: Bob Self
Rayne Perrywinkle, second left, the mother of Cherish Perrywinkle reacts to the first verdict of guilty in Donald Smith's trial for the brutal rape and murder in the Duval County courtroom of Judge Mallory Cooper. Picture: Bob Self

Rayne told police Smith had offered to buy the family food from a McDonald's inside the store and Cherish followed him to get the food. But they never returned.

Smith was arrested 10 hours later after his vehicle was spotted by a police patrol officer.

Cherish's half-naked body, still wearing the same orange dress she is seen wearing at Walmart, was found in front of a church the next day.

A total of three days is expected in the sentencing proceedings.

- Continue the conversation with Matt Young on Facebook or Twitter.

Killer Donald Smith leads the little girl to his van.
Killer Donald Smith leads the little girl to his van.

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