A handful of family members and close friends gathered in Maximo Park to remember a 5-year-old girl who was thrown off a bridge early on Thursday.
John Nicholas Jonchuck, Jr., 25, is accused of dropping his daughter, Phoebe, from the Sunshine Skyway southbound approach. Police said the girl was pronounced dead at an area hospital after being pulled from the water.
"I don't forgive him," said Michelle Jonchuck, Phoebe's paternal grandmother. "There was no sense in this. He didn't have to do this to her."
Michelle said everything sounded fine when she talked to her son on Wednesday.
"He (John) was gonna take her to school this morning," she said. "And I was gonna pick her up from school today."
Phoebe's mother, Michelle Kerr, placed flowers near a tree on Thursday evening, while holding a Disney princess balloon in her daughter's honor.
"I would give anything away if I could have her back just for one day," said Kerr. "We love you Phoebe."
"This child did not deserve this one bit," said Michelle Jonchuck. "Not one bit did she deserve this!"
Kerr said she last saw her daughter on Christmas Eve.
She said it was an unusually peaceful and fun visit that included John. At that time, John told her that she could see their daughter any time she wanted. But just a few days later, she started receiving strange texts from him.
"He told me that he was seeing a priest and that he had found Jesus," she said. "He told me I could never see my daughter again."
Kerr woke up around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday to a knock on her door. A police officer stood in the doorway, with news that her daughter was dead.
"I collapsed into her arms," said Kerr. "I fell down. How could he do this?"
Kerr did not have custody of her daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck. She said she and John Jonchuck fought constantly over their daughter. Those fights sometimes turned violent.
"He hit me over the head with a cinderblock once," said Kerr. "He almost killed me."
Kerr said John was bipolar and his anger could be quick and explosive. She wonders if he might have killed Phoebe before throwing her over the bridge.
Melody Dishman took Phoebe trick-or-treating this year. Phoebe dressed up as a butterfly.
"She's a lovely little girl, energetic, blonde hair, blue eyes, happy go lucky, always wanting to play," said Dishman.
Dishman said Jonchuck would yell at his daughter, but never harmed her physically. She said Jonchuck was a drug addict.
"Really bad on spice and on meth," Dishman said. "I don't know if he still was, but he had to be on something to hurt that little girl."
Two days ago, Dishman called Tampa police to report strange and harrassing text messages she recieved from Jonchuck.
"He kept saying go away demon, accept christ as your lord and savior," Dishman said. "He must have been really messed up in mind to keep calling me a demon."