New documents show scope of Lonzie search

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Friday marks four weeks since 21-month-old Lonzie Barton disappeared and new documents that were just released give an in-depth look at how the police response unfolded, early that morning.

News4Jax has obtained police dispatch records which outline all the resources police put in place that night.

Soon after Lonzie's disappearance, Ruben Ebron, the boyfriend of Lonzie's mother Lonna Barton, who was last seen with the child, was arrested and charged with child neglect.

Then, on Aug. 18, Lonna Barton was also arrested for child neglect and lying to police.

The report is about 50 pages long outlining everything that happened the night of July 24, beginning at 2:20 that morning, when Ruben Ebron made a call to 911 saying Lonzie was missing from the Ravenwood apartments.

"This is just one night, and a lot of resources were used," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said. "I remember that morning, every detective in the sheriff's office stopped their work and they were on the scene trying to locate Lonzie."

With hope that Lonzie could be found, more and more officers were dispatched, their names listed on the reports.

Along with the the first, "Be On the Lookout," for Ebron's car, issued less than 10 minutes after the call, to the first contact made with Lonzie's mother and the discovery of Ebron's car less than a mile from the apartment complex about an hour later, police intensified their massive search efforts.

William Ruben Ebron, the boyfriend watching Lonzie when he disappeared, is arrested late July 24 on two counts of child neglect.

At 6:04 a.m., four hours after Lonzie disappeared, the first command post was established. Twenty minutes later, neighbors in the area started receiving reverse 911 calls, telling them there was a missing boy.

Over the next six hours, more JSO detectives were brought in and teams began searching ditches and dumpsters.

Around 1:24 p.m. that afternoon, K-9 units responded to the Command Center and an hour later, teams were dispatched to go door to door.

The searching continued and according to the reports, by 3:53 p.m., police officials said all overtime was automatically approved.

Smith said that it is rare to bring in so many resources for something that isn't a natural disaster but the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office wanted to do everything they could to find the missing boy.

Earlier this month, Sheriff Mike Williams revealed costs in the search for Lonzie had exceeded $300,000.

The search for Lonzie continues July 27 as police move their command center from Wolfson High School on Powers Avenue to Kings Trail Elementary School on Old Kings Road South. Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Chief of Investigations Tom Hackney does not deny the case is becoming a homicide investigation. STORY

Smith said in a case like this though, with a search of this magnitude, money hardly comes into play.

"You don't sit down at that time and think about your budget. You're thinking, what can we do, what can't we do? You just do everything you can and worry about that later," Smith said.

Another thing Smith talked about with regard to cost, he mentioned that the search really could have cost a lot more but some things were free. For instance, people in the community had brought in food, bug spray, water and a lot of other things for those search crews that could have brought the cost up even more.
 


About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.