Cherish Perrywinkle's mother speaks after daughter's death

Rayne Perrywinkle says 'every day is a struggle,' can barely eat or sleep

Rayne Perrywinkle
Rayne Perrywinkle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Six weeks ago, Rayne Perrywinkle lost a light in her life -- her daughter 8-year-old Cherish.

"It's been 6 weeks and I keep thinking she's going to walk in the door," Perrywinkle told Channel 4's Hailey Winslow Tuesday night. "It's beyond any nightmare I could ever imagine. I don't ever want any parent to feel like this."

Perrywinkle said every day is a struggle and she feels nauseous all the time. She said she can barely eat or sleep.

Perrywinkle said her pain continued after her other two other children were taken away by the Department of Children and Families.


"My children are my light. When Cherish left, everything's gone," said Perrywinkle. "After Cherish left, my other girls left, everything fell apart. She played with them, she was always the mother, the teacher. Sometimes I'd get mad at Cherish because she'd be too bossy. Life is too short, Hailey."

Perrywinkle said she never imagined something like this could happen. She said she never imagined life would be so short for Cherish, who police said was kidnapped and killed by Donald Smith, a sexual predator.

"This should never happen. It's an abomination that he was ever let out and I'm totally disgusted in the justice system for ever letting him out," said Perrywinkle.

Now, Perrywinkle said she plans to do everything in her power to prevent what happened to her daughter from happening to another child.

"I fear for the next mother and the next parent that's going to be on TV. It could be tomorrow, it could be a few more months, it could be a year," said Perrywinkle. "I don't want to see another mom like myself or Mark Lunsford or Mark Class or Somer Thompson's mom, Diena Thompson. I don't want to see any more people like that on TV. It's devastation and now I'm added to the list."

Perrywinkle said she's hoping stricter laws will be put in place to protect kids like Cherish from predators.

"If I could say one more thing to Cherish, what would it be? Wait for me at the gate," said Perrywinkle.