Lonzie Barton: 1 of Jacksonville's biggest missing child cases

Wednesday marks 4 years since boy was reported missing

It's been four years since the search for Lonzie Barton began.That sparked one of the biggest missing child cases in the Jacksonville area. It ended in tragedy. Joy Purdy has a look at how it all unfolded, and where the people involved are now.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wednesday marks four years since the search for Lonzie Barton began, sparking one of the biggest missing child cases in the Jacksonville area.

The case ended in tragedy when the 2-year-old's remains were found months later in a wooded area off Interstate 295 in Bayard.

Lonzie's name became known around the city when his mother's boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, reported him missing around 2 a.m. on July 24, 2015. Police had their suspicions about the situation from the start.

Ebron told police his car was stolen with Lonzie inside. At the time, he told police the boy's name was Aaron.

Florida Department of Corrections photo of William Ruben Ebron Jr.

The car was found about 20 minutes later with no sign of the little boy. A few hours later, the Amber Alert calling him Aaron was changed to Lonzie.

Later that day, Ebron was arrested on two child neglect charges. The search for Lonzie continued, at times with people from the community joining the efforts.

On Aug. 18, 2015, Lonna Barton, Lonzie's mother, was arrested after police said she gave a false statement. She was later charged with child neglect.

Lonna Barton

Five months later, on Jan. 11, 2016, Ebron led investigators to Lonzie's body, lying in a pile of trash on a property near State Road 9B.

Ebron admitted to police he and Lonna were having sex as Lonzie drowned in a bathtub.

Ebron later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving 20 years in prison. His sentence was extended by five years for drug convictions in Baker County. He's scheduled for release in 2039.

Lonna Barton pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison, plus seven years for drug charges in Baker County. She's set to be released in 2026.

Lonzie's father, Chris Barton, was arrested days after the family buried Lonzie. He spent nearly two years in prison on drug charges and was released in March 2018.

Lonna Barton's mother has custody of Lonzie's older sister, who is 9 years old.

About the Author:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.