Younger sisters of slain Florida girl taken from mom

Girls' safety is agency's priority, says DCF

Published On: Jul 11 2013 09:43:51 AM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The two younger sisters of an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl who was abducted and slain have been removed from their mother's care.

Department of Children and Families spokesman John Harrell told The Florida Times-Union on Wednesday that the girls' safety -- not punishing the parent -- is the agency's priority.

Cherish Perrywinkle was found dead the day after she was abducted from a Jacksonville Walmart on June 21. The child, her mother and sisters went to the store with a man who had offered to buy clothing for them. Police arrested 56-year-old Donald James Smith on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery.

A judge gave Rayne Perrywinkle primary custody of Cherish in 2010 during a dispute with the child's father Billy Jarreau.