Florida has seen its share of tragedy recently, but none so horrible as a father killing his daughter.
Five-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck was found dead this morning after her father threw her into Tampa Bay waters just after midnight.
According to St. Petersburg police, an officer heading home from work was driving southbound toward the Skyway Bridge when he was passed by a speeding PT Cruiser going over 100 miles-an-hour. The officer pursued the vehicle but was unable to get the car pulled over before it stopped near the apex of the Dick Misner Bridge. Unbelievably, the officer saw a man exit the Cruiser, walk to the passenger side and get a young girl out. The officer believes that Jonchuck said something to him, but he could not clearly hear what it was. Carrying the girl in his arms, he pressed her head to his chest and then flung her over the side into the dark churning waters 60 feet below.
The man was 25-year-old John Jonchuck Jr., the father of little Phoebe.
St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway, said that the officer “thought he heard the child scream, but he wasn’t sure.”
After throwing his daughter into the Bay, Jonchuk simply got back into his vehicle and continued driving south on Interstate 275. Two officers were stationed at the end of the bridge waiting for him, one of whom was nearly hit by Jonchuck’s speeding car. He was later apprehended in Manatee County and arrested after officers were forced to use road spikes to stop him.
Little Phoebe’s body was later recovered an hour and a half later, approximately one mile from the bridge, with the help of local fishermen. Rescuers did try to revive the girl but she was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:44 a.m.
After being taken back to the St. Petersburg police station, Jonchuck asked for a lawyer and refused to answer questions. No motive for the terrible act is known, but authorities stated that he had filed a domestic violence charge against Phoebe’s mother in December but it wasn’t granted. He himself had several domestic violence charges made against him. Jonchuck had legal custody of his daughter and was living with his father in the Tampa area. Nothing is known about the girl’s mother or who Jonchuck’s lawyer is.
John Jonchuck has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated fleeing and alluding authorities, and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle on a law enforcement officer. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday afternoon. It is unknown as to what penalty he might face for throwing his daughter over the bridge as the investigation is ongoing at this time.