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Body of abducted Florida girl found at church

Published On: Jun 22 2013 01:28:58 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 22 2013 03:44:09 PM CDT
Charish Perriwinkle & Donald Smith closeups

Just over an hour after a 56-year-old sex offender seen leaving a Jacksonville, Fla. Walmart Friday night with an 8-year-old girl was arrested Saturday morning, police say the girl's body was found at a church.

Police say Donald Smith was taken into custody in a traffic stop about 9 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 95, but the girl was not with him, reports WJXT.

About 10:15 a.m., an emotional Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman announced the victim's body was found at a church on Broward Road.

"We located the body of Charish Perriwinkle," Officer Shannon Hartley said. "A very difficult time, obviously, for everyone involved."

Police say the child apparently left the Walmart store with Smith in a 1998 white Dodge 1500 van, Florida tag number BCBK32. That vehicle was stopped about 9 a.m. Saturday on I-95 near the Interstate 10 split. There was no sign of the girl in the van.

Within 30 minutes, police said they received a lead that led them to the church -- which Hartley did not name -- where the body was found.

Police say officers were called to the Walmart on Lem Turner Road at 11 p.m. Friday to a report of a missing girl. They quickly determined the girl was abducted. Overnight, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a statewide Amber Alert.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Sgt. Lonnie Mills said Smith met and befriended the mother and her three children at the store and took Charish to get her a snack.

"When he got to the front of the store under the guise of going to the McDonalds, (he) just continued and got into the vehicle with her," Mills said.

Smith has been in Florida's sex offender database since a 1992 conviction in Duval County for attempted kidnapping and selling obscene materials.  According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office jail database, Smith was arrested in 2003 on charges of burglary and dealing in stolen property and in 2006 for a parole violation. 

In 2009 Smith was charged with child abuse, making obscene phone calls to a 10-year-old girl and making verbal threats. According to the arrest report he claimed he was a social worker with the Florida Department of Children and Families and told the family they were under investigation by the state.

Smith was just released May 31 after being held just over two months on charges of attempted child abuse and impersonating a public employee.

After his release, neighbors said Smith lived with his mother, within a half mile of a middle school.