On Sept. 11, 1995, Ryce’s then nine-year-old son Jimmy was kidnapped, raped and killed just blocks from his Redland home, becoming a tragedy that rocked South Florida.
The tragedy of Jimmy’s death thrust Ryce into the spotlight and he and his wife Claudine dedicated their lives to ensure no parent would go through what they did.
“That shouldn’t happen to any child. It shouldn’t happen again, and we just got to, as a society, be willing to do what it takes to do a far better job than we have of protecting our kids,” Ryce said in an interview.
The Ryce family went to establish the Jimmy Ryce Foundation and develop a number new strategies to help authorities find missing kids.
In 1998, convenience began to show pictures of sexual predators and abducted children on closed-circuit television.
“We want Jimmy’s name to always be associated with ways of helping kids. That’s his legacy, we believe, and of course that makes us feel good,” said Ryce.
Ryce would then take his passion for change to the federal level.
“Everyone is sick and tired of being told we can’t do this because it’s too hard or we can’t do this because we can’t figure out how. That’s not how our country got great,” said Ryce.
His efforts proved successful, as he convinced then-President Bill Clinton to allow posters of missing kids in government buildings.
Ryce would also work with the state to establish a sexual predator database, establish the Jimmy Ryce Law Enforcement Training Center and got the government to help train police to find missing children with bloodhounds.
“We think bloodhounds are the one thing that might’ve saved our own son. Possibly, a dog could’ve trailed to where he was, and that would’ve been the only chance he had, and that’s why we do this,” Ryce said.
In 2009, Ryce suffered another loss when his wife Claudine died of a heart attack.
“I know that she is feeling comfort and joy having Jimmy back in her arms. I’m very proud of her,” said Ryce.
As the years went on, his dedication to helping children never faded.
The Jimmy Ryce Foundation would continue to donate bloodhounds to local law enforcement agencies, including a dog named after Claudine, who was given to the Miami Police Department.
“One thing that my wife used to say was, ‘Every time a child was saved by one of these wonderful animals, it was like getting a hug from Jimmy,’” said Ryce.
Ryce is survived by his 43-year-old son Ted.
Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Click here for the original source.