Fla. man executed in boy's rape, murder

STARKE, Fla. - A man has been executed in Florida for raping and killing a 9-year-old boy 18 years ago, a death that spurred the victim's parents to press nationwide for stronger sexual predator confinement laws,

Authorities say 46-year-old Juan Carlos Chavez was pronounced dead at 8:17 p.m. Wednesday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison.

Chavez abducted Jimmy Ryce at gunpoint after the boy got off a school bus on Sept. 11, 1995, in rural southwestern Miami-Dade County. Testimony showed Chavez raped the boy, shot him when he tried to escape, then dismembered his body.

Ryce's parents turned the tragedy's pain into a push for stronger U.S. laws regarding confinement of sexual predators and improved police procedures in missing child cases.

The Ryces created the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a nonprofit organization based in Vero Beach that works to increase public awareness and education about sexual predators. It also provides counseling for parents of victims and helps train law enforcement agencies in ways to respond to missing children cases.
 
The organization has also provided, free of charge, more than 400 bloodhounds to police departments around the country and abroad. Ryce said if police searching for Jimmy had bloodhounds they might have found him in time.
 
The Ryces also helped persuade then-President Bill Clinton to sign an executive order allowing missing-child flyers to be posted in federal buildings, which they had been prevented from doing for their own son.
 
Another accomplishment was 1998 passage in Florida of the Jimmy Ryce Act, versions of which have also been adopted in other states. Under the law, sexual predators found to be still highly dangerous can be detained through civil commitment even after they have served their prison sentences. Such people must prove they have been rehabilitated before they can be released. Chavez had no criminal record, so the law would not have affected him.
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