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The Daystarter: New revelations about the Jonchuck case; administrator says next move on stadium belongs to Rays; dream vacation thwarted by a hippo

Published Dec. 4, 2018

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• There's a lingering chance of showers early in the morning, about 20 percent. It'll be cloudy and cool after that with a high of 73, according to the National Weather Service. The night will be cool as well, down to 51.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including the opening of Hello Dolly! starring Broadway legend Betty Buckley. And it's Free Tuesday at the Glazer Children's Museum.

• The best journalism in the bay area is all in one place. Check out all the Tampa Bay Times investigations and special reports.

• In the years since authorities say John Jonchuck dropped his 5-year-old daughter into Tampa Bay from the top of a bridge, his perspective — has been missing from the public record. For the first time, new court files reveal that Jonchuck, told a doctor that "voices" urged him to kill Phoebe. Read the chilling words this morning.

• The lawyers will not debate whether John Jonchuck dropped his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge. When the 29-year-old goes to trial on a first-degree murder charge more than four years after Phoebe's death, his defense team will argue he cannot be convicted because he was insane when he killed her. The case will hinge on the testimony of five doctors, who will offer conflicting opinions about what went through Jonchuck's mind when he let go of his child. One of those doctors has drawn a direct challenge. Read about the controversy.

• Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill says the next move in the effort to build a Ybor City ballpark belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays. Last week he sent out a memo outlining the framework of a possible deal and now he says the county needs to know what the Rays think. "We really need to hear from the Rays," Merrill told reporter Charlie Frago.

• Will Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White file a lawsuit to thwart the transportation sales tax that a majority of voters approved last month? That's what 10News WTSP is reporting. Chris O'Donnell explains how White could do that and why the tax's supporters say it won't do anything and White is just wasting money on legal fees.

• Kristen Yaldor, 37, was on the Zambezi River with her husband, Ryan, when a hippo came up under the canoe, threw it into the air and attacked Kristen in the water. Caitlin Johnston tells their harrowing story.

• Authorities in Costa Rica said they discovered a woman's body on the property where a Riverview family say their loved one went missing while on vacation last month. Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Department confirmed the discovery Monday, but had not identified the remains as Carla Stefaniak, 36, of Hallandale Beach, according to NBC Miami affiliate WTVJ. Stay with for the latest.

• Check out the lineup Tampa Theatre just announced for its new Limelight speakers series coming in the spring that will features a wide range of cultural and intellectual talks, from coach Lou Holtz to best-selling physicist Michio Kaku to writer Carl Hiaasen.

• From our food editor, this week's Winning Recipes column brings us Italian Lemon and Amaretto Pound Cake

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• Check out the Tampa Bay Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.

• • •

Read the Tampa Bay Times new online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.

• Chris Godwin made two of the most important plays Sunday in the Bucs' 24-17 victory over Carolina. As Rick Stroud points out, there's a pattern forming around Godwin's best performances. Speaking of patterns, columnist Martin Fennelly thinks we're approaching one with Jameis Winston that tells us something about his future with the Bucs. And Thomas Bassinger's weekly Bucs Aftermath writes how it appears <URL destination="">the Bucs and Panthers have traded places.


• The latest Times coverage of the Bucs is just a click away at For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow beat writers Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• The Point-Kucherov connection was on point Monday night. First Brayden Point assisted Nikita Kucherov and then, because that's what kind linemates do, Kucherov assisted Point. Given that the Lightning's two hottest players are on the same line, it's unsurprising that they have been connecting frequently. That doesn't make it not impressive, though. "You watch (Kucherov), you watch Pointer, when you're on a roll like this, you just demand the puck," Steven Stamkos said after the 5-1 win over New Jersey. "It's fun to watch. I'm glad they're on our team."

• The Times can keep you up-to-date on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup: Click here for the latest news throughout the season. For the latest updates on @Twitter, follow Lightning beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Nick Kelly at @_NickKelly.

• To get the latest Rays' news from the Times this offseason, click here and follow baseball writer Marc Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

• Gators coach Dan Mullen said fans might have been dreaming about a Florida-UCF matchup in the Peach Bowl but he wasn't too worried about it, and now he's focused on Michigan, writes Matt Baker. Check out the Times coverage of Gator football all season long and keep up with Baker on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

• And meet the latest HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Avery Damjanovic and Orien Adams and find out why they're being honored.

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The Tampa Bay Times onine Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

• Listen to our new podcast, Life of the Party, that keeps you caught up just enough to get by in small talk. Times staffers Stephanie Hayes and Brittany Volk will discuss what's going on, from celebrity news to movies and music, plus offbeat info that will make you the most interesting person in the room.

• Don't just write the right way — write the Lane way. Keep up with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lane DeGregory's podcast, WriteLane, and learn about her approach to the craft of storytelling.

• • •

Check out the Tampa Bay Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.

The last of Allegiant Air's MD-80 planes are finally retired, reports Malena Carollo. Last week, the Las Vegas-based airline completed the final flight of its aging fleet from Fresno, Calif., to Las Vegas — the same route the first ever commercial Allegiant flight took, spokeswoman Hilarie Grey said. And that means those old planes won't be serving St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport anymore.

• Port Tampa Bay's shipping container business got a boost Monday with the news that Cosco Shipping Lines of China will add Tampa as a weekly port of call for its trans-Pacific container ships, reports Richard Danielson.

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The Tampa Bay Times online Opinion page has the latest editorials, columns and letters to the editor.


  1. Reynaldo Figueroa-Sanabria, charged with murder in the stabbing deaths of John Travlos and Germana Morin aboard Travlos' houseboat in 2013, takes the stand in his own defense Tuesday. MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times
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    Conflicting versions emerge of where Ridgewood Cemetery was located. One thing is certain: It was ignored or forgotten.
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    Riot police used tear gas and streams of water to break up marches by rock-throwing demonstrators in several streets of Santiago on Tuesday.
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    José Angel Toledo, ex-husband of state Rep. Jackie Toledo, abandoned his law practice, according to the petition from the Florida Bar.
  9. West Palm Beach police spokeswoman Molly Anderson said during a news conference on Tuesday that Department of Homeland Security agents arrested Rudelmiro Santizo Perez on Monday in Houston as he tried to flee to Guatemala. West Palm Beach Police Department/Facebook
    Police began investigating on Oct. 3 when a hidden camera was found inside an employee bathroom at St. Mary’s Medical Center.
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