Emotional family members and other mourners from the local community gathered at the Lake Magdeline United Methodist Church to attend the funeral service of Phoebe Jonchuck, the five-year-old girl who died last week after being thrown from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge by her father, John Jonchuck.
Attendees were asked to wear rainbow colors by Phobe’s mother, Michelle Kerr, to commemorate her daughter’s strong affection towards bright-colored clothing. Despite the sea of colors, the service was highly emotional, and one man was asked to leave the service around 10 AM after threatening the father who is currently in police custody.
NOW @ 5: Full report on John Jonchuck Jr., father accused of throwing daughter off bridge, and the memory of Phoebe. pic.twitter.com/VQqrGNT3fw
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@MyFoxTampaBay) January 8, 2015
Pastor Bren Byerman who officiated the service pleaded the mourners to forgive Jonchuck. Phoebe’s grandmother, Michelle Jonchuck strongly expressed her disappointment over her son’s action. In a previous interview with WFLA, Jonchuck wished that her son killed himself instead of her ‘angel princess.’ The grieving grandmother was reminded of the joy that her granddaughter brought into her life saying, “She was happy and always wanted to be a dancer. She loved arts and crafts. There aren’t enough words to describe how this child brought so much happiness to people.”
Phoebe Jonchuck’s teachers wear bright colors to honor her. Public visitation now at 3207 Bearss Ave/Tampa/4-8pm. pic.twitter.com/sKHg1sLDiT
— Melanie Michael (@WFLAMelanie) January 13, 2015
Phoebe’s remains were laid in a tiny pink tulle casket that was decked with flowers. Her favorite doll and her most treasured stuffed animal were put inside before it was buried at Lake Carroll Cemetery.
Phoebe’s teacher at the Cleveland Elementary school gave an emotional tribute during the service, telling everyone about her fond memories with her student. Some of Phoebe’s classmates were present during the beautiful service, and their teacher reminded them to blow kisses for Phoebe who is now spending time in “cloud school.”
The death of Phoebe Jonchuck will not be in vain. Already, the Department of Children and Families is making policy changes following the little girl’s death. A grand jury is also being set up to determine the exact charges against Phoebe’s father.