BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – One of the investigators who spearheaded the surveillance of Chris and Lonna Barton, leading to their arrests on drug charges in mid-September, spoke to The Baker County Press about the case.
Chris Barton, 41, and Lonna Lauramore Barton, 25, were arrested September 16 after an undercover drug deal at a Baker County motel. Another man, Shawn Hall, 32, of Glen St. Mary, was also arrested.
"A network of confidential sources provided detailed information several days before their arrest and finally allowed for controlled buys to be made," Investigator Matt Yarborough told The Baker County Press. He also said "no special attention" was attached to the case.
The Bartons' 21-month-old son, Lonzie, has been missing since July 24.
Yarborough said the Bartons were both known to be involved in the local drug culture prior to Lonzie's disappearance but more "tips and complaints" came in after the child was reported missing.
"I will say that the scrutiny and watchful eyes of the public made it difficult for the couple to hide their activities and made the investigation much easier for us," Yarborough told The Baker County Press.
The Press said a confidential informant reported witnessing Lonna Barton injecting synthetic meth with her husband's help while they were all in the motel room. The informant said Hall was there as well.
The Baker County Press reported when police entered the motel room, only Lonna Barton was there and numerous syringes and other drug-related items were seized as evidence.
Earlier that afternoon, officers witnessed Chris Barton picking up the drug from a person in a red truck that pulled into the motel parking lot, according to The Baker County Press.
The Bartons were arrested hours after they appeared in a Duval County courtroom, each asking for custody of their 5-year-old daughter. The child is now staying with other relatives.
Lonna Barton's arrest came as she was out on bond on charges of child neglect and lying to police in connection with the disappearance of Lonzie. A judge revoked her bond on Wednesday.
Lonna Barton was charged with child neglect because police said she left her son in the care of her boyfriend, Ruben Ebron (pictured right), and went to work the night of July 23 even though boy had apparent injuries to his head and fluid running out of his ears.
Barton's attorneys dispute the allegations that Lonzie had head injuries that night.
After Wednesday's hearing, Lonna Barton was returned to Baker County and is expected to be formally rebooked into the Duval County jail by the end of the week.