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Sheriff John Rutherford: Early communication lacking in search for Cherish Perrywinkle

5:26 PM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Sheriff John Rutherford said Tuesday that early communication was lacking in the abduction of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle, which had a tragic ending.

The little girl was found dead Saturday morning nearly 11 hours after officers responded to a call that she had been abducted late Friday night from the Walmart on Lem Turner Road.

RELATED: FDLE to review Amber Alert protocol after Cherish Perrywinkle abduction

"For some reason, they dropped off the portion about being a possible, what we call a signal 30 or abduction," said Rutherford, who wants to find out why the public was not told through the media early on that a child was involved.

The sheriff doesn't know if that would have changed the outcome, but he wants to know why procedure was not followed in wee hours of Saturday morning.

RELATED: Somer's mom offers support to Cherish's mom

Rutherford said when looking back on police work done that night, he finds nothing but a stellar performance.

He said pulling together information on a suspect for an Amber Alert in just a few hours was good police work.

RELATED: JSO releases timeline of Cherish Perrywinkle murder

"Amber Alerts, you cannot put out what you suspect. You have to put out what you know," said Rutherford, who said someone could get killed if you don't do it right.

The sheriff said luck combined with community eyes and ears played a huge role.

Cherish's father fought for custody for 6 years

"There was some lucky things too. A citizen stepped up and called when she say on television, saw a van behind the church," said the sheriff.

Around the same time, an officer working a crash saw the van, which lead the to the arrest of 56 year-old  Donald Smith. Smith has been charged in connection with the little girl's death.     

When it comes to the lack of early communication in the investigation, the sheriff said internal affairs will be asking questions to find out exactly what happened.  

RELATED: Funeral arrangements made for Cherish

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