1. News

Jonchuck moved back to Pinellas County ahead of hearing

Published Mar. 30, 2016

CLEARWATER — John Jonchuck, the 26-year-old man accused of dropping his daughter off the Dick Misener bridge, returned to the Pinellas County jail today.

Jonchuck, whose 5-year-old daughter Phoebe died Jan. 8, 2015, had been in a state mental hospital for more than a year while doctors tried to determine whether he's competent to stand trial for first-degree murder. In February, a judge ruled that he was not, and scheduled another competency hearing for June.

SPECIAL REPORT: It was a tragedy so many people could have stopped — but no one did. Read 'The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck,' by Times staff writer Lane DeGregory

On March 22, according to court records, doctors issued another psychological evaulation of Jonchuck, which was sealed. The next day, Jonchuck's hearing was moved to two months earlier, on April 18.

Assistant State Attorney Doug Ellis said Jonchuck might have been brought back 18 days before his hearing because of scheduling conflicts with state buses that transport prisoners.

Jonchuck, who had lived with his daughter most of her life, was speeding to the top of the approach to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge just after midnight that January night. When an off-duty St. Petersburg police officer pulled behind him, Jonchuck parked his white PT Cruiser and got out, carrying the kindergartner. The officer watched Jonchuck drop Phoebe over the edge of the bridge, 60 feet into the dark, cold waves of Tampa Bay.

Contact Lane DeGregory at or call her at (727) 893‑8825. Follow @lanedegregory on Twitter