Advertisement
  1. News

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

Phoebe Jonchuck died when she was thrown into Tampa Bay in January 2015. [Times file]
Published Aug. 3, 2018

Divers pulled a 4-year-old girl's lifeless body from the Hillsborough River on Thursday, police said, not long after her mother dropped her, screaming, into the dark water.

YESTERDAY: Girl, 4, dies after woman dumps her in Hillsborough River

Soon everyone knew her name, Je'Hyrah Daniels, and that of her mother, 26-year-old Shakayla Denson, whose mugshot ricocheted across the region.

The case felt too familiar, calling to mind the story of Phoebe Jonchuck, who police say was thrown by her father into Tampa Bay on a cold January night in 2015.

In Tampa, witnesses told police, Denson hugged her struggling daughter close, wading up to her shoulders before dropping the girl and walking away.

Three years ago, in St. Petersburg, a police officer said he watched John Jonchuck Jr., then 25, cradle his daughter to his chest before tossing her off the side of the Dick Misener Bridge, 62 feet above Tampa Bay. That moment ticked off a legal saga that is still not complete.

Jonchuck's trial is scheduled for Sept. 24. Lawyers are finishing depositions and filing motions. Doctors initially said he was not competent to stand trial, but he was later deemed well enough to proceed after receiving treatment for two years in a state facility.

Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said Friday it was still too early for investigators to know Denson's mental state when her daughter died.

Jonchuck faces the death penalty. Denson is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and grand theft auto.

Read previous coverage of the Jonchuck case:

ORIGINAL STORY: 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

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  3. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  4. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  6. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  7. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  8. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  9. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  10. Stay with tampabay.com for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement