JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Remains believed to be those of a toddler who was reported missing last summer have been found in a wooded area, Florida authorities said Monday.
The remains are believed to be those of Lonzie Barton, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and State Attorney Angela Corey said at a news conference. A medical examiner will still have to confirm the identity.
"We feel strongly that it's him," Williams said.
Lonzie was 21 months old in July when his mother's boyfriend reported him missing. Both the mother, 26-year-old Lonna Lauramore Barton, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old William Ruben Ebron Jr., have been accused of child neglect.
Lauramore Barton pleaded guilty last week to child neglect and lying to police and could be called to testify against Ebron.
Ebron's trial was supposed to start Monday morning, but was postponed when he waived his right to a speedy trial. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Ebron assisted in Monday's search efforts, Williams said. The remains were discovered miles away from any area searched last summer.
Ebron's attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment Monday. The judge has not yet decided whether Lauramore Barton can testify against Ebron.
Last week, Lauramore Barton told the judge that Ebron had dealt drugs every day of their relationship. She acknowledged leaving Lonzie and his 5-year-old sister with Ebron while she worked as a dancer at a local bar.
According to court records, Ebron called police July 24, saying the boy had been strapped inside a car seat when he stepped back into his apartment to get something. While he was inside, someone stole the car with the child inside.
Police found the car a short distance away, but there was no sign of the child. Investigators say Ebron lied about the abduction and car theft and that he likely knows the child's whereabouts.