William Ruben Ebron Jr. waived his right to appear at Wednesday morning’s hearing at the Duval County Courthouse. But his parents were there — as always.
Wanda and William Ebron Sr. are a fixture at hearings involving their son, the chief suspect in the case of missing toddler Lonzie Barton.
Though he hasn’t been charged with the child’s suspected death, police have portrayed him as a drug dealer and a liar. Hundreds of text messages released by prosecutors last week imply he was the former. A handful of texts from his mother suggests she believed the latter.
Wanda Ebron spoke with Times-Union news partner First Coast News following Wednesday’s hearing, the first since the release of the incriminating texts. She acknowledged sending her son messages that can only be described as tough love. They also show she had concerns about her son's lifestyle and conduct long before Lonzie went missing July 24 while in his care.
“I feel so sorry for you,” she wrote a month before Lonzie disappeared. “How can you be so disrespectful … What's your character?”
In another, “You can’t get a smart woman because you couldn’t go toe-to-toe with her intelligence — so stay in your lane. Hang with the ignorant losers.”
In another, “I despise your stupidity and lack of remorse for your behavior.”
In perhaps her harshest text, she tells him that when he was a child, she used to believe him, but “I finally saw that you were a pathological liar and a sociopath.”
‘I’M A MOM’
Asked about those comments, she responded, “I remember that, I remember that. I just told him to go look it [the definition] up, and read it and see if anything applies. You know I’m a mom — and I’m also a nurse.”
She explains she was simply trying to reach out to her son and set him on the right path.
“I know that most of the text messages, if not all that I’ve sent him, have been on the right side of God — what a person should tell their kid — the right thing to do,” she said.
Both she and her husband admit their efforts did not have the result they hoped. William Ebron Sr. said he found the content of his son’s text messages that were filled with drug references and apparent sales “shocking and disappointing.”
“We have no control over him. We try to tell him to do the best, the right thing, but he’s 32,” noted Wanda Ebron, adding, “I’m not the first mom that has a kid that goes rogue.”
The text messages may not ever be introduced at trial. Ebron’s attorneys say police failed to get a warrant before they searched his phone. That issue will be argued at the next hearing Jan. 6.
Ebron’s parents will almost certainly be there.