Florida mother's epic fail of common sense puts her child in the hands of a predator and killer.

I’m rather surprised that this news story hasn’t shown up here yet, and if it has, I apologize.

To sum up: mother and three children are at a Dollar General in Jacksonville when a man approaches them, having heard the mother talk about stuff they can’t afford, and offers to pay for stuff for them at Walmart with his “wife’s” $100 gift card. They wait a while at the DG, then the man says that it looks as if they’ll have to meet his “wife” over at the Walmart with her card. So mom GETS INTO THIS TOTAL STRANGER’S VAN WITH HER THREE CHILDREN and he drives them over to the Walmart.

After they’ve stalled around a while browsing in Walmart while waiting for the “wife”, the guy says he’s going over to the store McDonalds to get something to eat and would anybody like anything. Now, early reports said that the mother let her eight-year-old daughter Cherish go with him. Later, the mother said that she DIDN’T give her permission, that of course she wouldn’t have because the guy seemed “creepy” and she had a bad feeling from the time they were in the van, and that Cherish must have followed him without telling her (then why didn’t the mother notice?).

Anyway, once the mother realizes they’re gone she calls the police.

This eight-year-old girl’s body was found in a nearby church a day later. The man is a registered sex offender who had been released from prison in May.

Now, of course I feel nothing but loathing for the monster who could do something like this. But I feel no less disgust for the mother in this case. I’ve seen comments expressing sympathy for her like “she made a mistake and she’s being punished enough for it,” or, “she lost a child…hasn’t she suffered enough?”

Sorry, but that doesn’t wash. A “mistake” is if you take your eyes off your kid for a moment–which can happen to anyone. A “mistake” is if you trust a friend or family member that you didn’t know was a pedophile.

This…well, what is drummed into every person’s head from kindergarten on? “Don’t take gifts from a stranger. Don’t get into a stranger’s car.” This grown woman did both, and brought her three children with her. Regardless of whether she let her daughter go with the man (and her later story sounds suspect), she showed incredible stupidity and carelessness in going with this guy in the first place…so much so that I question her ability to raise her other two children.

Which Cherish’s father seems to agree with, BTW. Apparently, he (who was never married to the mother, but is married to someone else now and living in California) has been trying to get primary custody of her for years. To make it even sadder, she was supposed to fly out to California on Saturday to visit him. He made a Facebook statement condemning the family courts for ever giving her custody, claiming that he had tried to present her issues to the court but had been brushed aside, being told he was only trying to “hurt” her. Well, he says, the truth about the “great mother” has come out.

Either this woman is too stupid to be trusted with her two other children (with her current boyfriend), or…there’s something worse going on that we haven’t found out about yet.

So, either way, I pit this woman and I hope her other children are removed somewhere safe away from her.

But c’mon - a shopping trip to Wal-Mart, followed by haute cuisine at Micky D’s! Find me a woman who wouldn’t be swept off her Reeboks by luxury like that.

Top it off with a trip to the city junkyard to shoot rats, and it’s the most fun a girl can have after pulling the train at the Sadie Hawkins’ Day dance.


So a strange old man comes out of nowhere to give you a $100 and you think nothing of it. How fucking stupid can one person be? I also find it hard to have sympathy for the mother.

Two things everybody should know:

Never let anyone you don’t know really well drive you anywhere.

Trust your vibes. I’ve heard various members of law enforcement preach this for years. If you get a creepy vibe, it’s because there is something wrong.

If you go onto a site like NotAlwaysRight.com you can finds tons of heartwarming stories that start off just like this one. I’m sorry, I’m not going to demonize a woman who made a mistake and lost her daughter in the most horrific way possible because of it. Yes, it was poor judgment. But, my god… talk about kicking someone when they’re down.

Those stories start with a kind gesture but none of them continue with “he seemed really creepy but…”

And plenty of the stories on NotAlwaysRight feature someone who seems fine at first but takes a swift right turn into crazy freakout-ville.

Yeah, frankly this is the worst kind of RO there is.

She made a mistake, and it was a stupid mistake, and she should have known better, and she must be the dumbest person on the face of the planet. And since she is so stupid, she deserves to have her daughter murdered and her other two children taken away. Have I got that right?

Seems a bit of selection bias.

You also never hear about the stories where it turns out the creepy guy was actually just a decent person trying to be kind. Because “misjudged person actually kind; does charitable works” is one of the most boring stories in the world. It’s only interesting when the creepy guy is actually a creep.

Though, taking a ride with somebody you don’t know is pretty dumb. I’m not going to blame the victim, and she’s clearly thought about what she could have done differently. That said, I don’t have much sympathy for her. For her daughter and the rest of her family, hell yes, I have nothing but sympathy but none for her.

Nope. You got it wrong. But thanks for playing and embellishing well.

Nobody said that she deserved to have her daughter murdered. In fact it was the murder of her daughter that made everyone aware that everything else in your statement is true.

Glad to help. Bubba

Back when Regean was POTUS I was camping once. I have a Volkswagon. The good thing was they were easy to fix. The bad thing was they always needed fixing/adjusting. So, I carried every tool I could ever need to fix the thing because I was out in the boonies nearly every weekend.

So, anyway, doing yet another fix in the campground and this woman notices I am well endowed tool wise. She says hubby needs to fix something on the their van (forget what). Can she borrow some tools. Sure. Hours later she comes back. Hubby can’t fix van, needs part X, and is now down with back pain in the tent. So, can I give her a ride to the parts store in town? Sure, no problem, I wanted to get some stuff there myself and pick up some supplies at the convience store.

A few minutes later she is back at my camp. With her middle school? aged daughter. Okay, whatever…off we go…we all get what we want. And everybody is happy.

But, the dad NEVER came down to see me? WTF?

And back then I just figured she brought daughter so I would not pull some sly moves on her or something because the kid was with her. But reading this thread it JUST now occurred to me in one way she was using her child as a shield. She didn’t trust me enough to ride alone with me, but she trusted me enough to bring her kid along too. Not good.

Asking random stranger for help is a lot different from random stranger coming up to you and offering help (especially when one doesn’t really need it.) The world is still good enough so that there was only a very small probability that you were a perv. If you tried to insinuate yourself into her camp it might be different.

Yes, that is true. But my point still stands, I am fairly sure she brought the kid along as protection, not so the kid could get a joy ride in her lap to the parts store.

That happened to me a lot, too.

Or, her husband didn’t exist/wasn’t there, but was only made up so you’d think it wasn’t just her and her daughter in case you were a perv. But then when it turned out that she needed a ride, she couldn’t leave her daughter alone at the campsite, so she had to bring her along.

Maybe she trusted you more than she trusted the hubby? Or may be the hubby didn’t trust the momma to behave herself.

Also, she may have figured you weren’t a creep but might possibly still be a jerk and the kid was there because a jerk would only hit on the mom and be annoying if he saw an opportunity. The kid’s presence took away an opportunity.

To bad you didn’t give her a “confidential gay friend” vibe. She might have showed you her tattoos.

I disagree with the OP. Thinking that every stranger who offers to do you a kindness is probably a pervert/criminal of some kind is not a good way to go through life.

Especially when most such crimes are committed by someone the victim knows.
This “stranger danger” hysteria is utterly absurd. OP, this is what your misguided, not-so-sensible “common sense” produces–

(emphasis added)

But the difference here is that there was several red flags the mother ignored. Let me see… 1. Sure, it’s possible someone wants to help in a situation like the one described, but they usually don’t have the means to do so just on a $100 gift card. They may have money, they may have a gift card, but it’s not typically that large all for someone else’s disposal. 2. The “wife” never showed up at the original destination. 3. They had to ride in a stranger’s vehicle to get to the second destination. 4. The “wife” never showed up at the second destination. 5. The stranger was just willing to hang out indefinitely apparently? 5. After feeling the stranger is creepy, you don’t question where the “wife” with the gift card is and act accordingly when they still aren’t there? 6. You don’t pay attention to where all your kids are when the creepy stranger decides to leave.

So, to recap, this wasn’t just A mistake. And as was pointed out, the woman didn’t deserve her daughter’s death. But anyone who could ignore that many red flags sure as hell does deserve to have her other children go to someone who is able to look after them properly and keep them safe. I’m surprised she can keep herself safe. I’m also incredibly saddened for the father. Him trying desperately to get his daughter when he knew the mother was unfit must be eating him up inside.

One day, several years ago, my kindergarten aged son and I overslept, and we were running late for school. I got him dressed in a hurry, and ran out the door. The school was only a couple blocks away and we walked, but this was no day for walking! I picked up my little boy and I was running flat out to the school. A man I’d never seen before pulled over and asked me if I was going to the school, and was I running late? I said yes, and he offered to give us a ride, as he passed by the school on his way to work anyway. I got in the car, and he dropped us off at the school on time, and I thanked him profusely. When I told my (now ex) husband the story that night, he FREAKED OUT because I’d gotten into a car with a stranger, and put our son’s life in danger. And he was right. I realized then it was stupid, and dangerous, and I felt like such a fool. But in that moment, when I was desperate and he stopped, he was a fucking knight in shining armor. He was an angel, my savior!

I guess I think back on that day, when I read this story. Sometimes humans make mistakes. Giant huge stupid mistakes. Usually we make these mistakes with only small consequences, and we learn and move on, wiser. Sometimes those mistakes have devastating outcomes, though. I just feel sorrow for her and her family that this happened. It could have been me.

eta: she certainly missed several red flags, and I’m not saying her fitness as a mother shouldn’t be investigated. It should, and this should be a part of that investigation. She should perhaps lose custody. I just can’t go past that into mocking or despising her though.

I really need to go read the full story. So far I’m reading that $100 may or may not have changed hands between a mother who needs it and a stranger. It happens on a van ride to a store they were not all originally shopping at. That the mother & her other kids are aisle shopping at Walmart (possibly with that with that $100) while the stranger disappears with one of the daughters somewhere.

The daughter that, coincidentally, she’s losing custody of in short order to a father 3000 miles away.

The daughter that, coincidentally, happens to be of higher charisma than average. That the police were called when the stranger didn’t bring the daughter back on time.

I guess I just have a suspicious mind, because this sounds an awful lot like child-prostitution ending as murder. Possible Relevant Question: Is there a Felony Murder statute in place in Florida?