A faked pregnancy, homegrown poetry and plans to pen her autobiography are just a few of the revelations from Lonna Barton’s tenure at the Duval County Jail.
A pile of new documents and secret recordings made available Tuesday paint a fuller picture of Barton, the mother of 21-month-old Lonzie Barton. The toddler was reported missing in July 2015 by Barton’s boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, and found dead in January. Ebron confessed to burying the child, whom he claims drowned in the tub while the couple was having sex. Barton denied any role in the child’s death, but has said little publicly.
Tuesday's release from the State Attorney’s Office includes hours of secret recordings made by Barton’s cellmate.
Much of it is jailhouse noise, discussions of what they are going to order from the commissary – even, yes, snoring.
But there are also moments where it’s clear Barton’s cellmate is digging for information, asking about the charges against her and Ebron. The two also discuss Barton’s “pregnancy” – a calculated fake that the recordings suggest was a legal strategy.
It was widely reported that Barton was pregnant while she was in jail, though attorney later acknowledged she’d had tubal ligation shortly after Lonzie’s birth. Barton complains to her cellmate that she’s “getting tired of faking it, you know -- getting tired of having to wear a big a** sweater to court trying to look pregnant.” But she added that her attorney told her the fiction was helping her.
Her cellmate asks, “They give you that idea? Faking it idea?”
Barton responds, “Well, they said, ‘We don’t need him to turn around and lie on you.’ You know – ‘What will put him in your corner more than anything?’ I said, ‘Probably saying I’m pregnant or something like that,’ and they said, ‘Well, we’re going to need to do that. Cause he’s getting real nasty.’”
Barton carried on the fiction in her letters, pointedly reminding Ebron that they are “plus one.” After learning he’s been implicating her in conversations with police, she warns, “We need to stick together Ruben. I’m doing everything you said. You hold up your end.” She adds, “I don’t want to have our baby in prison.”
Barton did some reading in jail – she mentions a Joel O’Steen book and the Bible (she quotes the Book of Ruth to Ebron: “where thou diest, will I die … if aught but death part thee and me”) – and considered writing. “I plan to write a book of my life mainly because I want the world to one day know my true feelings and my story.”
She also wrote out lyrics to songs by Journey (Don’t Stop Believin’), Blink 182 (“I Miss You”) and Ed Sheeran (“Thinking Out Loud”). She even wrote her own verse: “How long will they send us away,” one reads in part. “God knows I hope not to [sic] long for our babies will all be grown.”
In conversations with her cellmate, though, Lonna seemed to think she would ultimately get off. “I think I’ll get out of it anyway,” she notes. “It’s such a petty charge.”
Barton is serving 12 years on child neglect and drug charges.