Lonzie Barton, the blue-eyed, blonde toddler whose photo in cowboy boots is stamped in many people’s minds, was laid to rest Tuesday at Turner Cemetery in Glen St. Mary.
It ends a little more than an eight-month saga when the First Coast was introduced to the nearly 2-year-old boy reported abducted during a car theft in Jacksonville. That was July 24, and it was a lie now confirmed by his mother’s boyfriend, William Ruben Ebron Jr.
After a massive search effort and weeks of head games and angst, Ebron eventually gave authorities what they wanted — the location of where Lonzie’s body was hidden in a woody makeshift dump site at the south end of Jacksonville in January.
Finally getting a proper resting place, Lonzie was buried in a private ceremony with estranged parents Christopher Barton and Lonna Lauramore Barton at the graveside, Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson said.
Both recently were sentenced to state prison on multiple drug charges in Baker County, but were allowed to remain in the county jail until their son was buried. Lauramore Barton, 26, also pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to one count each of child neglect and lying to police in Lonzie’s case and received a five-year sentence.
Ebron, 32, pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to aggravated manslaughter in the child’s death for a 20-year sentence. His last account to authorities was that the toddler drowned in a bathtub while he and Lauramore Barton were having sex in another room. He said they panicked and he hid the baby under some tires near some woods about eight miles from their apartment. The condition of the body made for an inconclusive autopsy.
Ebron initially said Lonzie disappeared shortly after he and his 5-year-old sister were placed in his car about 2:15 a.m. as he prepared to pick up their mother from her job at a strip club. The car was found abandoned less than a mile away. Lauramore Barton then lied to police about even knowing Ebron. She had also left her children in his care despite knowing he sold drugs and also had recently argued about Lonzie’s health.
V. Todd Ferreira Funeral Services in Baker County agreed to bury Lonzie free of charge.
“He was buried in a private ceremony, and Lonna and Chris were there, plus his grandparents on both sides, family and a few friends. They wanted it that way,” Dobson said. “Ebron left yesterday [Tuesday] to go to prison, and they [Lonna and Chris] will leave in the morning. I worked very closely with the funeral home and family on it, and it was the right thing to do for the both of them.”
Lauramore Barton’s Baker County plea agreement was in exchange for seven years in prison that will follow her five-year Duval County sentence. Christopher Barton, 41, was sentenced to three years.
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549