A Florida man facing murder charges in connection with his daughter’s death claims that voices made him throw the little girl from a Tampa Bay bridge in 2015, according to recently-released court documents.
Tampa Bay Times reports that John Jonchuck admitted to a psychiatrist he threw his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off of the Dick Misener Bridge because he thought she was evil. The little girl plunged 62 feet and died. Jonchuck allegedly blamed his actions on voices in his head.
“I was hearing voices saying that if me and Phoebe didn’t die, everybody was going to go to hell,” Jonchuck said, according to court documents obtained by the outlet.
"I was a really good father and she loved me so much and I always promised her that I’m not going to let anything happen, and I did." https://t.co/48NA9thP8G
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) December 5, 2018
The confession came during a two different mental health assessments, one in 2017 and another in 2018. Public court documents also revealed that he told psychiatrist Emily Lazarou that his thoughts are consumed with Phoebe keep him awake at night.
“I think about her every night, in the mornings when I wake up……Because I was a really good father and she loved me so much and I always promised her that I’m not going to let anything happen, and I did.”
Days before the January 8, 2015 incident, Jonchuck reportedly carried a Swedish bible around with him, including to an attorney’s office, who he referred to as the “creator.” His stepmother said she saw him “spreading salt” by doors in an attempt to block “evil.” He reportedly referred to Phoebe as a demon and claimed the Pope was his relative. His mother told authorities he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to People.
On the day Phoebe died, a police officer spotted Jonchuck pulling over by the bridge. As the officer looked on, Jonchuck allegedly took the little girl out of the car and within seconds, dropped her from the bridge. As Jonchuck drove away, the officer followed him and pulled him over. The suspect had two Bibles in his car. One was open to the Nehemiah 9:11 passage, per court documents.
“You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters.”
“Because I felt like with that Bible that night I was telling everybody that I was the Creator,” Jonchuck later explained to a psychiatrist.
— People (@people) January 13, 2015
The suspect’s lawyer plans to argue during his trial that Jonchuck was insane when the incident took place, and therefore shouldn’t be convicted of murder. Lazarou, however, wrote that she didn’t think the suspect was insane at the time of the incident and that he was “malingering.”
“I do not believe that Mr. Jonchuck meets the insanity criteria…I believe that John knew exactly what he was doing. I believe that it was premeditated and the purpose of this senseless, horrific crime was to punish those he perceived to have loved Phoebe over him.”
If convicted, Jonchuck faces life in prison. His trial is scheduled for March 2019.
[Feature Photo: Phoebe Jonchuck/Handout]