Don Ryce, father of abducted and murdered child Jimmy Ryce, dies at 76

Twenty five years and three weeks after the abduction, rape and murder of 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce, his father Don Ryce died Saturday at the age of 76.

The Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction announced Ryce’s death Saturday morning by “natural causes that were not coronavirus-related.”

Don Ryce and wife Claudine Ryce, who died in 2009, founded the center as they tried to live with the parental horror of Sept. 11, 1995.

Don and Claudine Ryce, parents of Jimmy Ryce, thank volunteers for their help in the search for their child on Sept. 15, 1995.

Don and Claudine Ryce, parents of Jimmy Ryce, thank volunteers for their help in the search for their child on Sept. 15, 1995.

Don and Claudine Ryce, parents of Jimmy Ryce, thank volunteers for their help in the search for their child on Sept. 15, 1995.

Jimmy got off the school bus in the Redland area, but never finished the five-block walk home. Juan Carlos Chavez forced Jimmy into his car at gunpoint, took the child to a trailer, where he raped him. That would also be where Chavez later shot Jimmy, took the boy apart and buried him among planters.

Chavez was arrested that December. After conviction for the crime, the state of Florida put Chavez to death in February 2014.

In the 19 years between Jimmy’s death and Chavez’s, Don and Claudine Ryce started the center. In addition to trying to teach children and parents how to prevent being a sexual predator’s victim, raise awareness of children who are missing and providing bloodhounds to law enforcement agencies to assist in searches, the center has backed various forms of legislation.

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The Ryces wrote the Jimmy Ryce Involuntary Civil Commitment for Sexually Violent Predators’ Treatment and Care Act, commonly called The Jimmy Ryce Act. It got signed into Florida law in 1998. It allows the state of Florida, after an imprisoned sex offender serves his/her sentence, to file a request keep the offender in what’s called “a civil commitment center” until the offender isn’t considered a threat to society.

Jimmy’s sister, Martha Ryce, took her own life in 2013 at the age of 35. Don Ryce is survived by son, Ted Ryce, 43. Funeral plans haven’t been made yet.

Donations in Don Ryce’s memory can be made to the Jimmy Ryce Center.

Don Ryce, the father of Jimmy Ryce, is helped by his son Ted Ryce, left, as they speak following the 2014 execution of Jimmy’s murderer Juan Carlos Chavez.

Don Ryce, the father of Jimmy Ryce, is helped by his son Ted Ryce, left, as they speak following the 2014 execution of Jimmy’s murderer Juan Carlos Chavez.

Don Ryce, the father of Jimmy Ryce, is helped by his son Ted Ryce, left, as they speak following the 2014 execution of Jimmy’s murderer Juan Carlos Chavez.

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