VERO BEACH (CBSMiami) – The father of a Jimmy Ryce said he will attend the execution of his son’s killer on February 12th and he is grateful that Gov. Rick Scott set the execution date.
“There is sense of relief, there is sense that the world is not quite right so long as that man still lives and so many of my family are dead,” Ryce said.
Ryce met with media at his Vero Beach home Friday afternoon.
“This is not about seeking revenge, there’s a big difference between seeking revenge and seeking justice. This is one of the few times where even our society says your crime was so great so evil so heinous that you have lost the right to live,” Ryce told CBS4’s Joan Murray.
Jimmy Ryce was nine-years-old when he was kidnapped, raped and murdered in rural Miami-Dade County.
Thursday, Governor Scott signed the death warrant for Juan Carlos Chavez, who was convicted in 1998.
On September 11, 1995, Jimmy had just left his school bus near his home in the Redland when Chavez kidnapped him at gunpoint. He drove the boy to his trailer home, raped the boy and held him at gunpoint, finally shooting him as he tried to escape.
He chopped the body up, put the remains in large planters and then sealed them with concrete.
“If there was ever anyone in the world who deserved to die it’s the man who did that,” Ryce said.
Chavez was arrested three months later after Jimmy’s book bag was seized in his trailer.
“To this day, I remember this case as if it was yesterday. This was one of the most heinous homicides I’ve ever handled,” recalled Pat Diaz, the lead investigator on the case. Diaz has since retired from the Miami-Dade Police Department, but told CBS4’s Maggie Newland the case still affects him. “I carried this case for 17 years,” he said.
Diaz says he’ll never forget the moment he and other officers walked Chavez out of the police department. “That was the day all of Dade County saw a monster, that we’re putting away a bad guy,” he said.
Even after the arrest, Diaz stayed in touch with the Ryce family who worked to keep other children safe, donating bloodhounds to police departments, teaching kids about stranger danger, and promoting legislation to keep predators locked up.
Now with an execution date set, Diaz says the case that haunts so many will truly come to a close.
“I think it buries all the bad memories of someone who did the worst thing you can do is hurt a child,” he said.
Ryce is counting down the days until Chavez dies by lethal injection.
“There will be a feeling that a chapter is finally over,” Ryce tearfully added.
Claudine Ryce, Jimmy’s mother died in 2009 of an apparent heart attack.
Martha Ryce, Jimmy’s older sister, died prematurely in 2013.
Ryce’s only surviving child his son, Ted, will accompany his father to the execution.
“It sends a message that if you go after kids and kill them you will die on death row,” said Ted Ryce.
Together, family championed stranger danger programs to help prevent abductions.
See the part of the raw interview by reporters with Don Ryce here: