Dressed in bright colors to honor the memory of Phoebe Jonchuck, more than 100 mourners gathered in a Tampa church on Wednesday to say goodbye to the 5-year-old girl who was thrown off a bridge by her own father last week, according to news reports.

During the tearful service at Lake Magdalene Methodist Church, Phoebe was remembered as a cheerful girl who wanted to be a dancer and loved arts and crafts, according to People. Her kindergarten teacher, Micha Olivier, remembered a little girl who loved going to Cleveland Elementary School.

The teacher said that Phoebe’s classmates blow kisses to heaven, and talk about her being in “cloud school.”

Michele Jonchuck addressed her granddaughter’s spirit, the Tampa Bay Times reported, saying: “I know you don’t want me or anyone else to cry. But we can’t help it right now. We know that God needs another angel. … This isn’t a goodbye to you, my angel princess. Because one day again, I will be by your side.”


Attendees were asked to trade black colors for vibrant ones as a way of remembering the child’s love of bright hues, according to People, which reported:

Friends and family embraced each other and sobbed. Phoebe’s mother, Michelle Kerr, wore a brightly-colored sundress. She wept as she entered the church.
In addition to the tears, there was palpable anger toward Phoebe’s father, John Jonchuck, who was arrested last week for throwing the girl off the 62-foot-tall bridge. At one point, a man shouted angrily during the service, apparently directing his ire at John Jonchuck.
“There needs to be a lot of forgiveness here today,” said Pastor Brent Byerman at Lake Magdeline United Methodist Church, “not only for the person who took Phoebe’s life, but also for ourselves.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, “when a man blurted out that he wanted to kill Phoebe’s father, a group of people escorted the man from the sanctuary.”

Following the service, the newspaper reported, four pallbearers carried the girl’s casket to a hearse.

A caravan led by three Hillsborough sheriff’s cruisers, their sirens blaring, rolled a mile away to Lake Carroll Cemetery.
The bright colors dulled under the steel gray skies. Mourners emptied their cars and moved to a gravesite. One woman stayed behind, weeping in a driver’s seat. Byerman read a brief prayer.

Michele Jonchuck, Phoebe’s grandmother, addressed reporters while she held the girl’s baby doll, according to People.

“She loved rainbows and butterflies, puppies and cats,” Jonchuck told reporters. “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.”


Family members and investigators are still trying to understand what possessed Jon Jonchuck to throw his daughter off Dick Misener Bridge into the Tampa Bay, a 62-foot plummet. On Friday, the day after the horrific incident, investigators confirmed that the child was still alive during the fall, which occurred moments after officers pulled her father over for driving 100 mph, according to police. Police found Phoebe Jonchuck’s body several hours later about a mile away.


Her father faces a first-degree murder charge, along with charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer, and aggravated fleeing and eluding police.


Asked about her son, who is being held without bond, Michele Jonchuck told reporters that she was at a loss. “The child loved her daddy,” she said. “And her daddy was never mean to her. He adored her. [Why he did it] is a question that maybe one day will be answered, or it never will. I just want to leave it at that.”

She continued: “Obviously, there was something that snapped. I have to forgive him, because I’ll never go to heaven if I don’t forgive him. I’m not happy with him. Everybody has to forgive each other’s trespasses. I never imagined that this would happen.”

According to People, Jonchuck added: “Phoebe did have a good life. She’s an angel up there, and she’ll never leave us.”