The lawyer of the father charged with throwing his daughter off a bridge in St. Petersburg said that he was behaving very strangely in the hours before the terrible event occur. So strangely, in fact, that she alerted police.
According to MSN news, "The man accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge early Thursday had been acting strangely the day before, calling his attorney, Genivieve Torres, "God" and asking her to translate a Bible in Swedish, according to police documents."
This occurred when she had a routine scheduled appointment to meet with her concerning his custody case of the 5-year-old child. She was concerned about his bizarre behavior. The police interviewed Jonchuck as he was picking up Phoebe from daycare, and police stated they were dressed and acting appropriately, and that Jonchuck denied that he had any plans to hurt himself or anyone else. Police documents reported that nothing seemed amiss.
"She was smiling and appeared healthy, properly clothed and happy."
Phoebe was reported to love princesses, had long curly hair, and a wide smile. She was terrified of baths and water, which makes it more devastating that her father hurled her over the bridge approximately 62 feet to her death below, just hours after having been interviewed by police.
Michelle Kerr, Phoebe's mother, had been with Jonchuck for a difficult six years. Both had arrest records, and Jonchuck had custody of Phoebe, with Jonchuck requesting a restraining order against Kerr as recently as last month. Police said the request was denied. Jonchuck and Phoebe lived with his dad in Tampa. Michelle Kerr said that she always thought Jonchuck was a good father.
"I always saw him as a good dad. She would always say, 'I love you daddy.' She loved her dad."
MSN reported that police said just after midnight Wednesday, an officer saw Jonchuck's Chrysler PT Cruiser speeding upwards of 100 mph toward the Sunshine Skyway bridge. By the time an officer caught up with him, Jonchuck had pulled over on the side of the bridge. Jonchuck got out and started toward the officer, who pulled his handgun. Then Jonchuck grabbed Phoebe from the back seat and "held her face to his chest" as he carried her to the railing, St. Petersburg police Chief Anthony Holloway said.
It wasn't clear whether Phoebe was alive, though the officer said he "thought he heard the child scream" before Jonchuck threw her into Tampa Bay about 60 feet below, Holloway said. The officer was too far away to physically intervene.
An autopsy of Phoebe is pending as to the cause of death.
Jonchuck is in custody, facing a first-degree murder charge. At his first hearing today, Pinellas County Judge Michael Andrews asked him if he wanted an attorney.
"I want to leave it in the hands of God," Jonchuck replied.
The judge responded and did not mince words.
"I'm pretty sure God's not going to be representing you in this case. You're going to be standing trial."
[photo credit to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]