5-year-old may have been alive when dad threw her off bridge, officials say

A young Florida girl was still alive when her father threw her off the St. Petersburg Bridge this week, police told reporters Friday.


A police officer watched in horror as John Jonchuck threw his 5-year-old daughter, Pheobe Jonchuck, from the bridge Thursday, according to multiple media reports.  The girl’s mother, Michelle Kerr, had warned local police that her ex-husband was acting suspiciously when he picked their daughter up from a visit. Jonchuck had a history of domestic violence charges, officials have said.

The responding officer told officials he may have heard the little girl scream as she was falling 60 feet from the bridge into Tampa Bay, according to The Associated Press. Detectives cited “preliminary evidence” Friday in saying they believe Phoebe may have been alive when she was thrown, but they are awaiting confirmation from the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office after a full autopsy is done.

Jonchuck had custody of Phoebe, according to her mother, who told local NBC affiliate WFLA that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis brought on by childbirth.

“She loved her daddy,” Kerr told the news station. “She would always say, ‘I love you, Daddy’ to him.”

Police still don’t know what prompted Jonchuck to kill his daughter.

Kerr knew firsthand of her ex-husband’s propensity for violence, but she never thought Jonchuck would harm their daughter, she told WFLA.

Jonchuck has been charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault with a vehicle after nearly hitting a Manatee County Sheriff’s deputy while trying to escape the scene. He is being held without bond in Pinellas County Jail.

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Michele Holt


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