An execution date has been set for the man who abducted, raped and killed 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce in Miami-Dade County in 1995, authorities said Thursday.
Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant Thursday for Juan Carlos Chavez, 46, who is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m., authorities said.
Jimmy was kidnapped one block from his home in Redland on Sept. 11, 1995.
Chavez ordered the boy at gunpoint into his truck, then drove him to his trailer, where he ordered Jimmy to remove his clothes and sexually battered him, said Melissa Sellers, the communications director for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in a statement Thursday.
Chavez held the boy captive for more than three and a half hours before he shot and killed him when he tried to escape, the statement said.
“I just received the news that justice will finally be done in the murder of my son, Jimmy, on September 11, 1995. I feel a combination of sadness and relief," his father, Don Ryce, said in a statement. "I hope this sends a message to predators that this behavior will not go unpunished.”
He plans to speak with the media at his Vero Beach home on Friday.
It was a case that horrified the state and led to the passage of the Jimmy Ryce Act, which allows authorities to commit dangerous sexual predators to mental institutions once they have completed their prison terms. The law would not have stopped Chavez, however, as he had no previous record for sex crimes.
Two days after the murder, Chavez dismembered the boy's body, filled three planters with his remains and sealed the planters with concrete, Sellers' statement said.
His remains were found three months later near the home of Chavez, who confessed to the killing.
A judge moved Chavez's trial from Miami-Dade to Central Florida because of pretrial publicity. He was convicted of first-degree murder, sexual battery on a person less than 12 years old and armed kidnapping in 1998 and sentenced to death.
The execution comes as lawmakers try to strengthen sexual offense laws, including possible tweaks to the Jimmy Ryce Act.
After the murder, Don Ryce and his wife Claudine, who died in 2009, worked to pass laws that would help find abducted children and prevent similar crimes.
During the search for Jimmy, they put up posters in courthouses and public buildings that were taken down because they weren't authorized. In response, President Bill Clinton signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to post missing-children posters in post offices, federal courthouses and other federal buildings.
The couple, both lawyers, raised awareness about the need for law enforcement to search for missing children sooner, noting that most children who are abducted are killed within 48 hours.
They also set up a nonprofit group that provides bloodhounds to police agencies, support for parents of abducted children and increases awareness about sexual predators.