MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Don Ryce is ready to step into the witness room and see Juan Carlos Chavez pay the ultimate price for the gruesome murder of his 9-year-old son Jimmy.
“It’s necessary that this be concluded and justice is done for my lost son,” said Ryce.
Jimmy was Don and Claudine Ryce’s youngest son.
Claudine died in 2009 and their daughter Martha died at age 35 last year. Don is left with his oldest son Ted Ryce, a personal trainer who works with private clients in South Florida.
As Ted works out at a Miami Shores gym, the word “strength” is right above him on the gym’s wall. It’s a word that perfectly describes him.
Ted, 37, has physical and emotional strength. And he will be putting that strength to the test when he witnesses the execution of Chavez at the Florida State Prison in Starke on February 12th.
“I feel like I’m obligated to be there because Jimmy was my brother,” said Ted. “I felt protectiveness for him and I wasn’t there for him at that time.”
Ted has no doubt Chavez killed his brother in 1995 after kidnapping Jimmy, who had just stepped off a school bus in the Redland section of south Miami-Dade County.
“He led police to the body. He had Jimmy’s book bag and a missing poster of Jimmy that he put in his book bag probably as a trophy.”
“We’ve known for years that he was guilty and there is no question about it,” said Don. “It’s not beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s beyond any doubt.”
Nine years older than Jimmy, Ted remembers his little brother as a typical kid, who was part of a close knit family.
“Jim was a very bright, talented and special boy,” said Ted. “He looked up to me a lot and I tried to be a role model for him.”
Back when they were kids, Ted taught Jimmy how to box. These days, Ted’s workouts are more strenuous and they help him deal with the pain of losing Jimmy in such a brutal way.
“No matter what you go through, however horrible, you can still come out on top,” said Ted. “You can still have a purpose and push forward to accomplish something. For me, that was doing fitness.”
Besides losing Jimmy in such a horrible way, Ted lost his mother Claudine and his sister Martha.
Ted said he’s proud of his parents for starting the Jimmy Ryce Foundation, which provides information on missing children and Bloodhounds for local law enforcement. The family also helped pass the Jimmy Ryce Act, which tightens the rules for child sexual predators in Florida.
After keeping a relatively low profile, Ted said he plans to be more involved in the fight for abused and missing children.
“My sister is gone, my mother is gone and I don’t know how much longer my dad will be able to keep the Bloodhound program and all the other things he’s done and I want to make sure that stays in place and keeps going,” said Ted.