Thousands gather to remember Cherish Perrywinkle at service

Published On: Jun 27 2013 08:58:12 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 28 2013 12:10:00 AM EDT

VIDEO: Hundreds gathered for the viewing of Cherish Perrywinkle to celebrate her life. Donald Smith is accused of abducting and murdering the 8-year-old girl nearly a week ago.


It was a solemn night on Jacksonville's Westside as thousands gathered to pay their respects to a little girl, they never knew.

Around 1,900 people signed the guestbook at the Paxon Revival Center Church on Thursday night and they all flowed into the sanctuary of the church to pay their respects to 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle.

"There's a difference in seeing an older person, but actually seeing a child that you're still raising, it's heartbreaking," said Sabrina McCaskill.

"When I found out, I felt like she was my child, and it just hurts me that somebody took her life that way," said Claydia Walker.

"Words cannot express what it feels like," said Kandace Knutson. "I cannot even speak on the air, because some of my comments would be expletive or deleted."

Emotions ran high as people talked about the tragic ending of Cherish's young life.

"Just compassion for the little child and the outrage of this happening," said Sylvia McCelndon.

"I just felt so sorry for that little girl," said Pat Bowman. "Didn't have a lot of things she should of had. Then, she ended up passing the way she did."

Tears were continual Thursday night with every person who looked in the casket and paid their respects to Cherish's mother, Rayne Perrywinkle.

Rayne Perrywinkle has been the target of a lot of public criticism following Cherish's death. Pastor Steve Dobbs said that all the criticism in the world cannot hurt Rayne Perrywinkle like the loss of her daughter has.

"That can't phase her because she said she has to live with the decisions she mad," said Pastor Dobbs. "Regardless of what was said, we have to love and that's what the church is about. It's about love."

Funeral services for Cherish Perrywinkle are also being held at Paxon Revival Center Church. Those services start at 2 p.m. Friday and are open to the public.  The service will be shown live on The Local Station and


Images from Cherish Perrywinkle viewing


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