Nothing found after new tip in Lonzie Barton search

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office called to park half-mile from Wacko's


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After volunteers searching for 21-month-old boy missing for a month found a mound of dirt with two ceramic angels lying on top in woods by a Belford Road park, police searched the area Monday morning and found nothing of interest.

WJXT reports a private search team that spent the weekend looking for Lonzie Barton reported the site to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, which cordoned off Cuba Hunter Park until first light.

The location is a half-mile away from Wacko's, where Lonzie's mother worked.

Police initially said it appears it could be a pet grave. Later in the morning, police tweeted, "Nothing was located in the park. Every tip and lead is investigated."


The volunteers who have kept searching for Lonzie, were hoping they had finally found Lonzie.

"We've been searching from the very beginning," said Kelle Casey, a search volunteer. She says a Facebook tip about McDonalds and railroad tracks led them to the park.

Stephanie Johnson, another search volunteer says she overheard a conversation while she was at a grocery store that led their search to the park.

"I overheard a police officer talking to someone else, kind of asking questions about what was going on in the case as far as what [Lonzie's sister] had said, was he able to point them in any direction. He said, ‘No, not really.' She had given him a couple of little landmarks, and I overheard those landmarks which were railroad tracks, a water fountain, a blue house, McDonald's and scary woods. I just remember him saying those things, so I kind of started searching through Jacksonville for places that had all those landmarks within close vicinity of them," said Johnson. 

"About eight of us met up there. It was lightning, raining. It was starting to get dark so we knew we didn't have much time. There was one particular spot we wanted to go look at. We went and looked at it. We walked through with flashlights. We didn't see much, came back out, decided we were going to walk a straight line and go through. Before we could even get there, one of the guys said, ‘Hey, I found something kind of weird over here.' We went over there and looked at it, and decided it was something we needed to call JSO about to have them come look at it because there was also a bottle thing next to it. It was kind of like a pill bottle, but it was like a herbal kind of pill, I guess. Inside there was a white powder. So we ended up calling JSO, they came out, took a look at it. We continued to search a little bit through some of the other woods, and they decided that it was something that needed to be looked further into," said Johnson.


It's been a month since the toddler disappeared, but people have not given up hope of finding him.

Between 10 to 20 people from northeast Florida and south Georgia met up in Jacksonville over the weekend to look for Lonzie along Goodby's Creek.

"There's many reasons this search is close to me. It's just too close to home for me. We grew up with this family and the baby so it's more personal for me," said volunteer searcher David Pembleton.

Pembleton is a part of an independent search for Lonzie. For him it's personal.

"He's played with my children I've been around since the day he was born," Pembleton said.

He along with a dozen others gathered at Goodby's creek looking for any sign of Lonzie. Pembleton joins JSO asking anyone who knows anything to come forward.

"Please, please just tell us where he is. I mean the evidence is against them," Pembleton said.

Pembleton is a father of five and can't imagine is it were one of his kids missing.

"How would I feel? I would not stop, I would be asking for help and cooperative with JSO I would be digging and hiking and searching everything possible to help," Pembleton said.

Earlier this month, Sheriff Mike Williams revealed that costs of a massive 10-day search for Lonzie had exceeded $300,000. JSO is continuing to do conduct searches when tips com in.

Lonzie's mother, Lonna Barton, and her boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, are both are in police custody for child neglect and lying to police. Police have called Ebron their prime suspect and said they were building a murder case against him.