Homicide

Child abuse hotline ignored 2 calls in week before father allegedly dropped child over bridge

Just 12 hours before a man fatally threw his 5-year-old daughter off a Tampa Bay bridge last month, his own attorney called the state's child abuse hotline, warning that John Jonchuck was suffering from mental delusions.

But according to document released by Florida child welfare officials Monday, the operator didn't refer the call to investigators because she didn't think the child was in danger.

One week earlier, another friend alleged Jonchuck's daughter Phoebe had been physically abused in the past. But that call also failed to get to investigators because the operator hung up before she got Jonchuck's address.

The lapses have prompted the Department of Children and Families to change hotline protocol. Going forward, if a caregiver seems to be experiencing a psychotic episode, a child protective investigator will be required to visit within four hours.