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Cherish's father says he fought for custody for 6 years; Report recommended father take custody

5:17 PM, Jun 24, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cherish Perrywinkle's parents fought for her custody for six years, according to court documents. 

A custody evaluation report from 2010 recommended Cherish's father Billy Jarreau take custody of the child, but a judge's decision ultimately overruled that recommendation.

Cherish Perrywinkle was expected to fly to California on Saturday to spend the summer with her father, but instead her father is flying to Jacksonville for her funeral.

"He was supposed to pick his daughter up for his summer time sharing, but instead he got a call that they found her little body," said Jarreau's attorney Gerald Wilkerson.

Wilkerson has been representing Billy James Jarreau since the custody battle began in 2007. 

A custody evaluation report from June 2010 documents interviews with both Jarreau and Cherish's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle. 

The report says the two shared a romantic encounter while Perrywinkle was a dancer. The relationship resulted in a pregnancy, but the parents have different accounts of what happened next.

Jarreau stated in the report he was unsure the child was his and had no contact with Perrywinkle for three years until the state sought him out for child support.

"[Jarreau] found out because the mother attempted to get assistance through the government with food stamps or something like that and whenever that happens the state of Florida will pursue the biological father and that was the first time he even knew he had a child," said Wilkerson.

But Rayne Perrywinkle's account says Jarreau knew about the child all along. 

Her boyfriend of eight years, Aharon Pearson, said he is the one that raised Cherish after meeting her mother when Cherish was 10-months old.

"So he hadn't seen her for four years and [Rayne Perrywinkle] went to put him on child support, all of a sudden he wants full custody," said Pearson. 

A judge granted full custody to Perrywinkle in 2007. 

Since then Jarreau has seen Perrywinkle during holidays and summer vacations. 

In 2009 Jarreau attempted to gain custody of Cherish after his attorney said Jarreau noticed neglect. 

Wilkerson said teachers were contacting Jarreau and were concerned for Cherish. In the report, the custody evaluator noted that Perrywinkle's home was in poor condition and had no air conditioning. 

The evaluator recommended Jarreau take custody but the judge granted custody to Perrywinkle. 

"The judge noted that if she were to allow the child to go live primarily with [Jarreau] in California that the effect of that would be that the mother would not ever see the child again because she did not have any money any means to pay for travel," said Wilkerson.

The custody battle continued with a second petition for modification in 2012 and was still ongoing at the time of Cherish's disappearance. 

But Perrywinkle's boyfriend, Pearson, said Cherish was extremely close to her mother.

"That's all Cherish ever wanted was mommy," said Pearson. "She was so close to her mom."

First Coast News

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