Just 12 hours before police said John Jonchuck threw his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge – perhaps while she was still alive – the father calmly told a sheriff’s deputy he didn’t want to hurt himself or his little girl and had “new clarity in his life.”
The officer had made a point of interviewing Jonchuck in person because Jonchuck’s own attorney frantically called 911 to report that he was acting “strange.” The attorney, Genevieve Torres, said Jonchuck had called her “God” and asked her to translate a Bible in Swedish when they met Wednesday to talk about Jonchuck’s custody case for his daughter, Phoebe.
Yet, when police talked to Jonchuck at length, everything appeared OK.
Then police encountered Jonchuck again shortly after midnight Wednesday. He was going about 100 mph toward the Sunshine Skyway bridge. By the time an officer caught up with him, Jonchuck had pulled over on the approach span to the bridge.
Jonchuck got out, and started toward the officer, who pulled his weapon. 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 when Jonchuck threw her into Tampa Bay about 60 feet below, though the officer said he “thought he heard the child scream,” Holloway said.