VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Don Ryce, a labor lawyer who with his wife became a leading advocate for missing children after their 9-year-old son was abducted, raped and murdered in South Florida, died Saturday. He was 76.
The cause of death was natural and not related to the new coronavirus, the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction said in a statement.
The center that Ryce, and his wife, Claudine, opened in honor of their son provides bloodhounds to police agencies to help in searches, pushes for changes in legislation and raises awareness about missing children.
Their son, Jimmy, was abducted after getting off a school bus in South Florida in 1995 when Juan Carlos Chavez forced him into a car at gunpoint, took him to a trailer and raped him. Jimmy was fatally shot and dismembered. A three-month search by police and volunteers ended with the discovery of his remains in 55-gallon drums in a farm field in Miami-Dade County.
Chavez was arrested several months later, and he was executed by the state of Florida in 2014.
A petition drive by the Ryces led President Bill Clinton in 1996 to sign an executive memorandum requiring federal buildings to post pictures of missing children.
Two years later, the Jimmy Ryce Act was signed into law in Florida, allowing imprisoned sex offenders to be kept in “a civil commitment center” until they aren’t considered threats to society, even if their prison sentences have been completed.
Ryce’s wife, Claudine, died more than a decade ago, and a daughter died seven years ago. He is survived by his son, Ted.