BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – Lonzie Barton's parents were brought from the Baker County Jail to attend the toddler's burial service Tuesday, Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson told News4Jax.
His funeral was held at V. Todd Ferreira Funeral Services in Macclenny and the service was private, with 20 to 30 family members and a couple of close friends.
At the family's request, the public was not invited.
Lonzie was buried with other family members at Turner Cemetery, a private cemetery in the northern part of the county, Dobson said.
Nearly six months after he was reported missing, Lonzie's remains were found in January in a wooded area in Bayard. V. Todd Ferreira, the owner of Ferreira Funeral Services, told News4Jax that he would provide the services free of charge to the family.
"What is important to us is Lonzie and his family, and that's what we are committed to, and to giving him a special goodbye, one that he deserves," Ferreira said.
News4Jax spoke with members of the Justice Coalition, who were with Lonzie's family during the difficult process. They said it's been a terrible situation, but now there is some closure and the toddler was given a proper burial.
"It breaks your heart into pieces that someone could even have the mentality to throw away a baby," said Ann Dugger, the executive director of the Justice Coalition. "His memories will always live on in all of our hearts, because he became a community child. People talk about a poster child, but he became the heartbeat of Jacksonville and the surrounding areas."
Dugger is in charge of the Justice Coalition, a victims' advocate group that is working with Lonzie's family. She said it's been a hard time for them, being at the center of such a high-profile case.
"There will never be a closure on this baby. There is no such thing as closure. (It will help) if you get some answers and they are able to kind of go on and maybe put a little bit of the pieces of their life together," Dugger said. "He did deserve the dignity and respect that was given to him for a decent funeral and burial. And also, so did the family. His grandparents and the family, they deserved to have a private funeral so they could mourn him they wanted to mourn, they could love the way they wanted to love and they could have the privacy that they needed to do this."
The toddler was reported missing last July 24 by Ruben Ebron, who told police that his car had been stolen with the 21-month-old inside.
Ebron later admitted that he was having sex with Lonna Barton, the toddler's mother, while Lonzie drowned in a bathtub.
Ebron is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the child's death.
Lonna Barton pleaded guilty to charges of child neglect and lying to police. She is serving 5 years in prison.
Lonna Barton and Chris Barton, her husband, are both serving time on unrelated drug charges in Baker County.
The Bartons will be moved into the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections on Thursday, Dobson said.
Anyone wishing to honor Lonzie, and other victims of crime, can do so at the Justice Coalition's Tossing of the Roses at 6 p.m. Monday, April 11 at the Jacksonville Landing.