As crews began demolishing the house Sunday, pieces of the family's lives were pushed into public view.
Walls with picture frames on them came crashing down. Baby toys and clothes on hangers were raked across the ground.
Knocking down the unsafe structure is necessary, officials said, to get a better look at the sinkhole and to figure out the best way to fill it.
"Once they can get a better view, then they can get a sense of what the next step is. ... This is one step at a time, because we really don't know what we're dealing with here," Merrill said Sunday morning.
Sinkholes are common in the state, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Florida lies on bedrock made of limestone or other carbonate rock that can be eaten away by acidic groundwater, forming voids that collapse when the rock can no longer support the weight of what's above it.
Hillsborough County, on Florida's west coast, is part of an area known as "sinkhole alley" that accounts for two thirds of the sinkhole-related insurance claims in the state, according to a Florida state Senate Insurance and Banking Committee report.
With officials concerned that more ground near the house in Seffner could give way Sunday, the massive backhoe demolishing the house kept its distance, staying on the street.
Nearby homes were evacuated Friday as a precaution.
The family that lived next door was given about 30 minutes to grab belongings before abandoning the house, which was compromised by the sinkhole, fire department spokesman Ronnie Rivera said.
Though the risky search for Jeff Bush has ended, the danger has not.
Merrill said workers were dealing with a "very unusual sinkhole" -- deep, wide and extremely unstable.
"It's underground, it's unseen and we're uncertain as to what's under there," said John Lyons, the county's director of public works. "So we'll be very cautious going in."
Contractors will finish demolition work on Monday, he said. "They'll pull out the rest of the structure, load it up and take it away."
But authorities said Jeff Bush's body will remain in its final resting place, trapped underground where the house his family lived in for generations once stood.