A man who confessed to the murder of a little 9 year old Florida boy in 1995 was executed by lethal injection Wednesday night at the Florida State Prison at Starke at 8:17 pm according to a press aide for Governor Rick Scott, Jackie Schutz.
Juan Carlos Chavez was convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Jimmy Rice. Chavez reportedly came to the United States on a raft from Cuba with two others in 1991 and he was working as a farmhand when he killed the boy.
Reports say that he kidnapped Jimmy at gunpoint when he got off his school bus in Redland, which is an agricultural area south of Miami-Dade County. He took the child to his trailer where he raped him and when the boy tried to run away, Chavez shot him in the back. Then he dismembered the child and his body parts in concrete-filled plastic pots.
The boy’s body wasn’t found until three months later when Chavez’s landlord found the child’s school bag and reported it to the police, who then discovered the remains.
The child’s father, Don Ryce attended the execution which was briefly delayed by a last minute appeal by Chavez’s lawyers which was denied by the U.S, Supreme Court. According to the Department of Corrections Chavez had a last meal of steak, French fries, Strawberry ice cream, mixed fruit and mango juice in the afternoon. He had no visitors before the execution.
Chavez was said to have expressed no remorse and in fact he stated that “none of us can pass judgment on another (man’s) sin.” He wrote, “I doubt there is anything I can say that would satisfy everybody, even less those who see in me nothing more (than) someone deserving of punishment.”
Jimmy’s father, Don and his mother, Claudine became advocates for abducted and missing children. Together they opened a center for abduction victims in south Florida and have provided hundreds of bloodhounds to law enforcement nationwide to help missing children.
Ryce who is a retired lawyer lives near central Florida now and he claims that the loss of his son simply broke his wife’s and daughter’s hearts. “This is the kind of loss that never gets right, that you never completely recover from,” he said. Sadly his wife died in 2009 and his daughter, who was Jimmy’s half sister, Martha committed suicide last year. Ryce says he firmly believed that Jimmy’s memory was very much weighing on them at the time of their death. Then he added by saying, “So forgive me if I don’t shed many tears for Juan Carlos Chavez.”
Now that Chavez is gone I pray that Don Ryce will be able to go on with his life. I hope it provides some type of closure for him. He will never forget the loss of his son, wife and daughter but witnessing the execution of the man responsible for all their grief. If you ask me, this child’s mother and sister might still be alive today if it hadn’t have taken the state of Florida almost twenty years to execute a man that confessed to a murder. I will never understand why it takes them so long. May God be with Don Ryce now.