Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Public safety

Neighbor: Mother ‘didn’t care’ about daughter tossed into Hillsborough River

TAMPA — Shantia Little said she saw the toddler only two hours before.

The girl was running around the Silver Oaks Apartments on 43rd Street on Thursday barefoot, Little said. That was 2 p.m.

At 4 p.m., witnesses saw Shakayla Denson, 26, wade into the Hillsborough River and toss her daughter into the water. Divers found 4-year-old Je’Hyrah Daniels about 30 minutes later. She was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Denson was arrested Thursday and faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and grand theft auto, according to Tampa police. She made her first appearance in Hillsborough County Court on Friday and was denied bond.

Little, 29, who lives upstairs from Denson’s first-floor unit, had heard whispers of the incident in the complex’s parking lot. But she didn’t know the details until she spoke with a reporter Thursday night.

PREVIOUS STORY: Girl, 4, dies after mom tosses her into Hillsborough River

"I thought it was a lie," she said with tears rolling down her cheeks. She had to brace herself against a wall. "She did it? So her daughter’s gone?"

"Are you serious?" she repeated over and over.

Little recalled saving the toddler from injury a few months back. Je’Hyrah was walking barefoot on the sidewalk and almost stepped in glass.

On Thursday, Je’Hyrah was again wandering without shoes. Denson, Little said, was well dressed. The mother, Little said, "didn’t care" about her daughter.

Denson, who lives with her sister and young niece and nephew, according to Little, would frequently leave the children unattended. Strangers would come and go from Denson’s apartment, Little said. And Little once called the apartment’s management because Denson let her two dogs roam free, she said.

Nobody answered Denson’s door, which had a cross made of velcro stuck to it.

Thursday’s arrest was Denson’s third in Hillsborough County, according to jail records. She was arrested in 2016, accused of failing to appear in court on a petit theft charge. She was also arrested in 2017, records show, on charges that she skipped a court date after she was accused of driving without a license.

Little, a mother of three, said she couldn’t understand how a mother could hurt her child.

"That child is innocent," Little said. "That child," she paused, "she didn’t deserve that."

"She didn’t ask to be here."

Thursday’s developments come as court proceedings in a similar tragedy ramp up across the bay. The trial of John Jonchuck Jr., accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off a bridge in St. Petersburg in 2015, is scheduled to begin Sept. 24.

Jonchuck, now 28, faces the death penalty. Police said he tossed his daughter 62 feet from the Dick Misener Bridge into Tampa Bay on a cold January night.

THE PHOEBE JONCHUCK CASE

Tampa Bay has had a child dropped in the water before. Where the Phoebe Jonchuck case stands.

Police: Girl, 5, dead after father drops her from Sunshine Skyway approach

SPECIAL REPORT: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck

WITNESS: Officer recounts the last moments of Phoebe Jonchuck’s life

Comments
People wrongfully convicted can now petition Hillsborough state attorney for review

People wrongfully convicted can now petition Hillsborough state attorney for review

Andrew Warren announced the creation of a Conviction Integrity Unit, the first of its kind in Hillsborough.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sexual battery charge against Tampa cop dropped

Sexual battery charge against Tampa cop dropped

The State Attorney's office says it has dropped its case against Adam York, the Tampa cop accused of sexually battering a woman he pulled over after Gasparilla in 2016.
Updated: 1 hour ago
A wrong-way driver slammed into her on the Howard Frankland Bridge. She's alive and grateful.

A wrong-way driver slammed into her on the Howard Frankland Bridge. She's alive and grateful.

Andrea Rusch, a 24-year-old bartender at Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill in St. Petersburg, has undergone three surgeries but is expected to be discharged from St. Joseph's Hospital this week.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

An experimental tool to provide forecasts for which beaches have bad air because of Red Tide seems to be working, but users are having trouble finding its important information.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco deputies: Two New Port Richey men arrested for sex with 14-year-old

Pasco deputies: Two New Port Richey men arrested for sex with 14-year-old

Jarkarius Ellis, 18, and Ricky Farrow, 19, face charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a victim under 16.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tarpon Springs man calls 911 to report he fatally shot father, police say

Tarpon Springs man calls 911 to report he fatally shot father, police say

A Tarpon Springs man is in custody after he told 911 operators he shot his father early Tuesday morning following a domestic dispute.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Daytona Beach man killed crossing St. Petersburg street

Daytona Beach man killed crossing St. Petersburg street

A 59-year-old Daytona Beach man was hit by a car and killed Monday while crossing a street in St. Petersburg, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Updated: 5 hours ago
Redington Shores man, 55, struck and killed while loading bike onto PSTA bus

Redington Shores man, 55, struck and killed while loading bike onto PSTA bus

A northbound Ford Flex crossed the center line and slammed head-on into the bus along Gulf Boulevard in Indian Rocks Beach, deputies said.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene of a suspicious death at about 8p.m. Monday in the Lake Egypt Estates neighborhood near Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Updated: 7 hours ago
Pedestrian killed in crash with wrong-way driver while loading bicycle onto PSTA bus

Pedestrian killed in crash with wrong-way driver while loading bicycle onto PSTA bus

Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the death of a pedestrian who was killed by an out-of-control vehicle while hitching a bicycle to the front of a county bus.
Published: 11/12/18