A child abuse hotline ignored two calls in a single week before one father threw his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge to her death, Florida state investigators claim.
One week before John Jonchuck allegedly threw his daughter off a bridge to her death, one worried caller reported abuse to the Department of Children and Families. The caller informed the department that Phoebe, Jonchuck’s daughter, had been abused in the past. However, the call failed to reach DCF investigators because the operator hung up before receiving Jonchuck’s address. Instead of returning the call, the operator simply closed the case.
Just 12 hours before Jonchuck threw his daughter to her death, his own lawyer called a state child abuse hotline warning that Jonchuck was suffering from mental delusions. However, documents released by child welfare officials on Monday showed that the operator failed to pass on the call to investigators because she didn’t believe the child was in danger.
The carelessness has put the DCF under fire and prompted Secretary Mike Carroll to improve hotline protocol. Now, if a caregiver is reported to be experiencing a psychotic episode, a child protective investigator will be required to visit within four hours.
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Ignoring calls has been a problem for the hotline in the past.
“We are reminded yet again that every process within our system should be critically examined at every opportunity to ensure that the role it plays is carried out effectively,” Carroll said.
Jonchuck has since been arrested and accused of first-degree murder, though he hasn’t been formally charged since he’s undergoing mental health evaluations.
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Photo Credit: AP, Phoebe Jonchuck our angel baby/Facebook via DailyMail