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Walmart: 'Code Adam' issued after Cherish Perrywinkle went missing from store

8:47 PM, Jun 24, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After Cherish Perrywinkle's mother notified employees at the Walmart on Lem Turner Road on Friday night that her daughter was missing, a "Code Adam" was issued, according to Walmart spokesperson Kayla Whaling.

A "Code Adam" is a protocol use by Walmart when a child is reported missing inside a store. 

When the call is made, store personnel are stationed at entrances and exits to make sure a child matching the description given does not leave the store. If after 10 minutes the child is not found, police are called.

Whaling declined to say if police were called after that 10-minute rule on Friday and deferred the answer to police. 

An Amber Alert was later issued for Cherish and her body was found Saturday morning near Highlands Baptist Church on Broward Road. Donald Smith has been charged with her kidnapping and murder.

Code Adam has been in Walmart stores since 1994. Walmart follows the guidelines created by the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The "Code Adam" is named after the son of "America's Most Wanted" host, John Walsh.

Cherish Perrywinkle was on the minds of parents in Jacksonville on Monday.

"It just broke my heart," Yolanda Bazemore of Jacksonville said. "I couldn't imagine that happening to my children."

Leslie Holfrid, another Jacksonville parent added, "It was hurtful. For a parent to have to go through that. For that child to have to go through that was very hurtful."

Melissa Sweet, a mother of three from Jacksonville, said

"I've always stressed to my kids that 'when mommy's in the store, you need to stay with me." Melissa Sweet a mother of three from Jacksonville said.

"[My children have] gotten out of my sight like if they've gone to another aisle where I couldn't see them and I didn't see them walk away," Sweet explained. "You have that second where you're just frantic."

First Coast News wanted to know what other security steps there are at area stores and discovered there are other protocols in place.

Toys R Us spokesperson, Katie Reczek said its stores also uses a Code Adam in an effort to keep children safe. 

Reczek's statement reads:

Toys R Us was one of the first retailers to adopt the "Code Adam" procedure when it was developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. In the event that a child is reported missing in one of our stores, the Code Adam procedure ensures that our store associates instantly mobilize to conduct a search and that the store can be secured to prevent the child from being taken by someone other than his or her parent or guardian. All of our store associates are trained to perform the specific steps in the Code Adam procedure.

More Information on safety at Toys R Us is available here

Stephen Holmes, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at The Home Depot released a statement to First Coast News saying:

We do have a thorough process that includes a storewide announcement, storewide search and assigning associates to monitor exits as we search for a lost child.

Holmes went on to say there are extensive procedures in place.

FCN also inquired with Walt Disney World but a spokesperson declined to comment.

First Coast News

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