Jacksonville, FL - Just hours before 21-month-old Lonzie Barton disappeared, he had a bruise on his head, fluid leaking from his ears, and was acting lethargic and vomiting- new information released from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office late Tuesday which has led them to arrest Lonzie’s mother, Lonna Lauramore, for child neglect and lying to police.
She appeared before a judge Wednesday to have the charges against her formally read. The judge confirmed Lauramore’s $50,000 bond and set the next court date for September 9th.
JSO wouldn’t say why it has waited until now to take Lauramore in to custody. She was described as cooperative, but had “difficulties telling the truth”, according to JSO Chief of Investigations Tom Hackney.
The charges stem from leading up to and immediately after the disappearance was reported.
Hackney says the bruise on Lonzie was pointed out to Lauramore on Thursday the 23rd, before the boy disappeared. She got in a “heated argument” with her boyfriend, Ruben Ebron, over where Lonzie got the bruise, but nevertheless left the boy and her 5-year-old daughter in Ebron’s care while she went to work without a good explanation of what happened, according to police. That’s one reason police have brought forward the child neglect charge, although we’re told Ebron’s drug use and sales came in to play as well. Hackney says Lauramore knew Ebron kept drugs in their apartment, where it could have been reached by the kids, and even brought Lonzie in the car with them when Ebron went to do drug deals.
The extent and severity of Lonzie’s injuries are not known at this point, so it’s unclear if that may have contributed to his suspected death. Hackney says they were told about Lonzie’s injuries by a person known to both Lauramore and Ebron, but he declined to say who that is.
Relating to the charge of lying to police, Hackney says Lauramore actually denied knowing Ebron or having any knowledge of his car when she and a friend were pulled over after work the night Lonzie was reported missing. The officer who pulled them over had received the bulletin that Ebron reported his car stolen with the boy inside, but Lauramore allegedly told the officer she didn’t know anything about that. Hackney says she later admitted to lying, but couldn’t say why she did. When asked if he believes Lauramore knows more about Lonzie’s disappearance, Hackney said if she did, he hopes she would have come forward.
While Ebron maintains the car was stolen with the boy inside, it was soon recovered nearby with the keys still inside and no sign of Lonzie. JSO says surveillance footage from nearby shows Ebron driving the car to the spot where it was found and then running back to call police from the Southside apartment.
Ebron is now charged with two counts of child neglect and lying to police. Lauramore was booked in to the jail Tuesday night, and we’re told she has invoked her right to remain silent.
JSO has no new information about Lonzie’s location, but plans to continue searching.
Lauramore’s arrest report says Lonzie had previously received treatment for bruises before, after her family became concerned about the boy. Ebron claimed those were the result of Lonzie being pushed by his 5-year-old sister, according to the report.