Fla. man executed in boy's rape, murder

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 13, 2014 at 4:36 am •  Published: February 13, 2014
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STARKE, Fla. (AP) — The father of a 9-year-old South Florida boy raped and murdered in 1995 said he hopes the killer's execution sends a strong signal to other would-be child molesters and abductors.

"Don't kill the child. Because if you do, people will not forget, they will not forgive. We will hunt you down and we will put you to death," said Don Ryce, whose son Jimmy Ryce was kidnapped at gunpoint after getting off a school bus.

He spoke Wednesday night after Juan Carlos Chavez, 46, was executed by lethal injection at Florida State Prison. Chavez was pronounced dead at 8:17 p.m., according to Gov. Rick Scott's office.

Chavez abducted Jimmy Ryce at gunpoint after the boy got off a school bus on Sept. 11, 1995, in rural Miami-Dade County. Testimony showed Chavez raped the boy, shot him when he tried to escape, then dismembered his body and hid the parts in concrete-covered planters.

Ryce's parents turned the tragedy's pain into a push for stronger U.S. laws regarding confinement of sexual predators and improved police procedures in missing child cases. Their foundation provided hundreds of free canines to law enforcement agencies to aid in searches for children.

Despite an intensive search in 1995 by police and volunteers, regular appeals for help through the media and distribution of flyers about Jimmy, it wasn't until three months later that Chavez's landlady discovered the boy's book bag and the murder weapon — a revolver Chavez had stolen from her house — in the trailer where Chavez lived. Chavez later confessed to police and led them to Jimmy's remains.

He was tried and found guilty of murder, sexual battery and kidnapping.

Chavez made no final statement in the death chamber, but did submit a statement laced with religious references. He said he had found forgiveness in religion and that he wished for "unfailing love be upon us, upon me, upon those who today take the life out of this body, as well as those who in their blindness or in their pain desire my death. God bless us all."

Don Ryce had said recently that he and his wife had become determined to turn their son's horrific slaying into something positive, in part because they felt they owed something to all the people who tried to help find him. They also refused to wallow in misery.



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