The body of 8-year-old Cherish Lily Perrywinkle was discovered near a church in Jacksonville, Fla. around 10 a.m. Saturday, Jacksonville.com reported.
UPDATE: Initial reports suggested that Cherish Perrywinkle's mother allowed her daughter to go to McDonald's with Donald James Smith. The mother has now told Action News Jax that she did not realize Smith left with the girl.
Perrywinkle was abducted from a Walmart in Jacksonville at around 11 p.m. Friday.
Donald James Smith, a registered sex offender, has been arrested and charged with murder, according to Action News Jax.
Police have not commented on the cause of Perrywinkle's death.
The girl's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, told Action News Jax that she and her daughter met Smith Friday evening at a dollar store. Her two other children, ages 4 and 5, were also with her, according to Jacksonville.com.
Smith overheard the mother saying she couldn't afford to buy her daughter a dress, and offered to help her out. She says Smith told her his wife had a Walmart gift card, and could meet them at Walmart and use the card to buy items for the family.
They headed to the Walmart in Smith's van. Once there, Perrywinkle says Smith kept insisting they were waiting for his wife. At one point, he said he was heading to the store's McDonald's. The mother says she did not realize her daughter was going with him.
"He asked if I wanted anything and I heard Cherish say 'cheeseburger.' I thought she stayed near me. I didn't realize she went with him. I didn't let her go with him like people think," the mother told the station.
She also noted that at first she thought the man was "creepy and annoying," but he seemed like he truly wanted to help her. "Part of me wanted to believe this was a blessing for my children," she said.
Smith, 56, was previously convicted of attempted kidnapping and lewd and lascivious assault on children. Police tracked down Smith's van driving on I-95 in Jacksonville at around 9 a.m. Saturday. They have not said whether or not Smith led them to the girl's body.
Rayne Perrywinkle's two younger children were unharmed and remain in her custody.
CORRECTION: The Amber alert for the missing child, as well as initial police sources, incorrectly spelled her name "Charish Lilly Perriwinkle." The story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of her name, "Cherish Lily Perrywinkle."
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