MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twenty-five years ago on September 11th, nine-year-old Jimmy Ryce was kidnapped, sexually abused and murdered.
Friday afternoon, a memorial was held for Jimmy at the exact spot where he was last seen getting off his school bus in the Redland in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Those in attendance paid tribute to the young boy with tears, prayers and a poem written by his father Don Ryce, who couldn’t attend the remembrance ceremony, but was read by others.
“God sleeps on September 11. My biggest regret now is that his mother and I never got to see him grow up to be the very special soul he was destined to be.”
“There is a special angel in heaven that is part of me. It is not where I wanted him, but where God wanted him to be.”
“Today it would be wonderful to see you laugh and smile, but heaven lent you to this world for just a little while. And in that short but precious time, you brought along much love and all that love is with you now in heaven up above. You’re leaving caused so many tears and such a lot of pain, but God needed one more Angel so he took you back again.”
“You filled the world with joy and pleasure. You were such a precious treasure. A little while to pass and then we’ll see each other once again. Loved, remembered and held so dear in minds and hearts. You’re always here.”
The man who killed Jimmy was executed in February 2014.
Jimmy’s parents created a legacy in their son’s name, founding The Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a non-profit organization that works to increase public awareness and education about sexual predators. It provides counseling services for parents and helps train law enforcement in respond to missing child cases.
The organization has also provided hundreds of bloodhounds to police departments in South Florida and around the world.
Another accomplishment in Jimmy’s name was the 1998 passage in Florida of the Jimmy Ryce Act, versions of which have also been adopted in other states.
Under the law, sexual predators found to be still highly dangerous can be detained through civil commitment even after they have served their prison sentences. Such people must prove they have been rehabilitated before they can be released.