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Fla. man Donald Smith pleads not guilty to kidnapping, murder of girl

  |   June 23, 2013 at 1:09 PM
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 23 (UPI) -- Donald Smith, accused of kidnapping and murdering on Friday a Florida girl, Cherish Perrywinkle, 8, pleaded not guilty to the crime Sunday.

Smith, a registered sex offender, allegedly befriended the child's mother Friday evening at a Jacksonville store, asking whether she wanted a dress and offering to let her use his wife's $100 gift card for Walmart, Firstcoastnews.com reported.

The wife never showed up and the suspect, Cherish, Cherish's mother and two other children drove to Walmart, as Smith said that's where they could meet his wife, Firstcoastnews reported.

Police said Smith later left the store with Cherish. The mother called police at about 11 p.m. that night, saying the child had gone missing at the store, and she identified Smith on surveillance video as Cherish's kidnapper, First coastnews reported.

An immediate air-and-land police search of area was begun and an Amber Alert was issued early Saturday morning, the web site said.

Photos of a white 1998 Dodge Van believed to be involved in the kidnapping were released and the suspect was arrested after he was seen driving the van, police said.

The girl's body was discovered near Highlands Baptist Church on Broward Road, police said.

Smith next court appearance is scheduled for July 16, and he faces murder and kidnapping charges.

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