STARKE, Fla. — A man was executed Wednesday night 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 and better handling of child abduction cases.

Juan Carlos Chavez, 46, was pronounced dead at 8:17 p.m. Wednesday after a lethal injection at Florida State Prison, according to Gov. Rick Scott’s office.

Chavez made no final statement in the death chamber, but did submit a statement laced with religious references in writing. He moved his feet frequently after the injection began at 8:02 p.m. but two minutes later stopped moving.

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

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. Their foundation provided hundreds of free canines to law enforcement agencies to aid in searches for children.

The boy’s father, 70-year-old Don Ryce, witnessed the execution along with his son Ted, 37. They told reporters outside the prison that the execution closes a long, painful chapter and hopefully sends a powerful message to other would-be child abductors.

“Don’t kill the child. Because if you do, people will not forget, they will not forgive. We will hunt you down and we will put you to death,” Ryce said.

In his written statement, Chavez said he had found forgiveness in religion and was not afraid of death.

The Ryces created the Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a nonprofit organization based in Vero Beach that promotes public awareness and education about sexual predators. It also counsels parents of victims and helps train law enforcement agencies for missing children cases.