The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says the caretaker of missing toddler Lonzie Barton is lying to investigators and is now being considered a suspect in the case.
The 21-month-old has been missing for more than 40 hours.
An Amber Alert was issued early Friday morning, about four hours after his mother’s boyfriend, 32-year-old William Ebron, reported him missing to JSO.
Ebron told police he left the little boy and his 5-year-old sister alone in his car in the parking lot of the Ravenwood Apartment complex in the Baymeadows area while he went inside to get something. Ebron said the girl came inside the apartment but he saw the car being driven away when he went outside.
JSO’s Investigation Director Tom Hackney says Ebron later admitted that he left the boy alone to snort cocaine before he planned to pick up the boy's mother, 25-year-old Lonna Lauramore, from work at Wacko's Gentlemen's Club around 2 a.m.
But on Saturday morning, Hackney says investigators do not buy Ebron's car-theft story. Hackney says he believes Ebron knows where the toddler is. Hackney said Ebron was not a suspect, only because he doesn't know what Ebron would be a suspect of yet.
Later Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. Hackney stated that Ebron is now a suspect in the case, and JSO believes Ebron either knows where Lonzie is or knows how to find him. Hackney says that evidence and conversations lead JSO to believe Ebron's story was a lie.
Investigators have interviewed Lonzie's 5-year-old sister twice. But Hackney says they don’t have concrete information from her because she’s so young. He says it's hard to tell if she’s been coached.
Hackney says Lonzie's mother and biological father are cooperating, and investigators do not believe they had anything to do with the toddler’s disappearance.
On Friday night, Ebron was charged with two counts of child neglect and booked in the Duval County Jail.
According to our partners News4Jax, Ebron has a long list of prior arrests, including:
2007 arrest for trespassing and writing bad checks.
2008 arrest for driving with a suspended license
2009 arrest for possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis
2010 arrest for armed robbery with a firearm or deadly weapon and grand theft.
2011 arrest for grand theft as well as fraudulent use of Identification.
2012 arrest for violation of probation and domestic battery causing minor injury with a weapon
There is also a petition for a restraining order against Ebron that was filed on July 10, but it did not involved Lonna Barton or her children.
Police are searching every home, yard and body of water in the area. They’re using bloodhounds, divers and 40-to-60 detectives.
In a media brief Friday afternoon, Investigator Hackney said he is very concerned for Lonzie’s safety.
“The longer that this goes on that we have not been able to find this child, the worse the outcome can be. That is unfortunate,” Hackney said. “We will not stop looking until we come up with a resolution for this.”
Lonzie has blonde hair, blue eyes and weighs 20 pounds. He was wearing a diaper when he was last seen.