Nothing found after new tip in Lonzie Barton search

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office called to park half-mile from Wacko's

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After volunteers searching for a 21-month-old boy missing for a month found a mound of dirt with two ceramic angels lying on top in woods by a Bedford Road park, police searched the area Monday morning and found nothing of interest.

A private search team that spent the weekend looking for Lonzie Barton reported the site to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, which cordoned off Cuba Hunter Park until first light.

The location is a half-mile away from Wacko's, where Lonzie's mother worked.

Police initially said it appeared it could be a pet grave. Later in the morning, police tweeted, "Nothing was located in the park. Every tip and lead is investigated."

The volunteers who have kept searching for Lonzie, were hoping they had finally found the toddler.

"We've been searching from the very beginning," said Kelle Casey, a search volunteer. She says a Facebook tip about McDonald's and railroad tracks led them to the park.

Stephanie Johnson says she overheard investigators speaking with one another about what Lonzie's sister told investigators about the area where she last saw her brother.

"She mentioned a blue house from what I heard," Johnson said. "She mentioned a blue house, a water fountain, scary woods, railroad tracks and a McDonald's."

Johnson walked a News4Jax crew to the area where the angels were found.

ONLINE: Timeline of Lonzie investigation | Complete coverage of Lonzie Barton case

"The guy that actually found the place alerted us, let us know, 'Hey, there's something weird over here. Check it out,'" Johnson said. "It was an angel with a baby and then the other angel was with a little kid."

Tiffany haynes said it was her idea to search Cuba Hunter Park after receiving the Facebook message about what Lonzie's sister allegedly said about the area where her brother could be. She had hoped Monday's search would have a different ending.

"It's disappointing," Haynes said. "I've been following this since Day 1. I have a 4-year-old son. I have an 8-month-old daughter. I just want the closure."

It's been a month since the toddler disappeared, but people have not given up hope of finding him.

Between 10 to 20 people from northeast Florida and south Georgia met up in Jacksonville over the weekend to look for Lonzie along Goodby's Creek.

"There's many reasons this search is close to me. It's just too close to home for me. We grew up with this family and the baby, so it's more personal for me," said volunteer searcher David Pembleton.

Pembleton is a part of an independent search for Lonzie. For him it's personal.

"He's played with my children I've been around since the day he was born," Pembleton said.

He, along with a dozen others, gathered at Goodby's Creek looking for any sign of Lonzie. Pembleton joins JSO in asking anyone who knows anything to come forward.

"Please, please just tell us where he is. I mean the evidence is against them," Pembleton said.

Pembleton is a father of five and can't imagine if it were one of his kids missing.

"How would I feel? I would not stop, I would be asking for help and cooperative with JSO. I would be digging and hiking and searching everything possible to help," Pembleton said.

Casey said she knows just what it's like to search for a missing child.

"Years ago I couldn't find my daughter for about a year. She was older at the time," Casey said. "I kept thinking, 'Is she in a ditch somewhere?' And the thought of someone's kid being out left on the side of the road really bothers me."

Earlier this month, Sheriff Mike Williams revealed that costs of a massive 10-day search for Lonzie had exceeded $300,000. JSO is continuing to conduct searches when tips com in.

Lonzie's mother, Lonna Barton, and her boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, are both in police custody for child neglect and lying to police. Police have called Ebron their prime suspect and said they are building a murder case against him. 

Members of the private search group said they're going to continue looking for Lonzie.