- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Update (12:45 p.m.): Story is updated with developments from the Sheriff’s Office noon briefing.

On the fifth day in the search for Lonzie Barton, police initially pulled back from a staging area at Avenues Walk at Jacksonville’s south end and were preparing for the day at Kings Trail Elementary School, the main command post for the search.

Searchers also found what appears to be another unrelated body. In one of the ponds near Bowden and Lone Pine roads, they found a car linked with a 2003 missing-persons case. Sheriff’s Office Chief Tom Hackney said skeletal remains appear to be inside. They had earlier found other human remains in the woods that appear to have been there a year or two, but don’t suspect foul play.

Pick-ups of at least some commercial garbage bins had also been halted, and crime tape was wrapped around containers near Fortune Parkway Monday night, according to Times-Union news partner First Coast News.

The station later in the morning said police had retuned to Avenues Walk Boulevard and were searching a retention pond there. At the school on Old Kings Road, law enforcement vehicles flowed in and out of the school grounds as the search geared up again.

The stop in garbage service was requested by the Sheriff’s Office as part of the search for 21-month-old Lonzie, who disappeared early Friday and whose mother’s boyfriend is the focus of the investigation to find the toddler. William Ruben Ebron, 32, remains jailed on two charges of child neglect.

The Sheriff’s Office wants to search the garbage bins for evidence after leads collected by police pointed to the possibility that evidence could be found there, spokesman Christian Hancock said.

“We have searched numerous commercial-type containers in several areas,” Hancock said. “The landfill has not been searched. For safety reasons, a compactor-style Dumpster was transported to the Trail Ridge Landfill so it could be sifted through safely for clues into this investigation.”

A landfill was crucial in the Clay County case involving the abduction and murder of Somer Thompson, the 7-year-old Orange Park girl who disappeared in October 2009 and whose body was found in a Georgia landfill.

Tuesday, Clay Sheriff Rick Beseler said the case there is thought to have sparked a change in search protocols to recommend that pickup service be stopped in cases such as those of Somer and Lonzie.

Investigators have changed the focus in the case from one of rescue to one of recovery and are handling it as they would a murder, though a missing child Amber Alert was still active.

Monday, Chief Tiom Hackney of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the Amber Alert status remains because he believes it still could be an abduction case, with Ebron at the center.

Ebron is the boyfriend of Lonzie’s mother, Lonna Lauramore, 25, who was at work early Friday when Ebron was with Lonzie and the youngster’s 5-year-old sister at Ravenwood Apartments on Old Kings Road in the Briarwood area.

Tuesday on separate sides of the Ravenwood entrance, poster board signs adorned with balloons pleaded for Lonzie’s safe return.

At a noon update, Hackney said realizes he sounds like a broken record, but much is the same. Ebron still has the answers and won’t put an end to this, the search continues to focus on intelligence-driven locations, tips keep coming in and Lonzie is still out there.

But until they have nowhere else to go, they’ll leave no rock unturned and won’t stop searching until they find Lonzie, Hackney said.

“It is the motivating factor” for every officer to find that little boy.

The 21-month-old is still out there somewhere, and it’s because of something bad. It’s frustrating, Hackney said, because Ebron clearly knows more.

“It’s evident to investigators that he really thinks he’s smart,” but the chief said his money’s on the investigators.

“Despite what he may face, he can make this stop,” Hackney said. “… He doesn’t seem to have the wherewithal to do what’s right.”

Investigators have got an idea where he was in that tight window of time from 8 p.m. Thursday to 2:20 a.m. Friday, but there’s a couple of hours they would like to better acccount for to fill in the gaps.

Hackney reiterated that the mother is still cooperating.

“By the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, if it’s ticks, rain or snakes, we’ll trudge through,” he said.

He also said citizen support has been phenomenal. He said personally he would say to pray.

“I would be more than happy to take some divine influence to locate this child,” Hackney said.

Dana Treen, (904) 359-4091


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