JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- (WJXT) -- Ruben Ebron pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the death of Lonzie Barton on Friday morning. He will serve years in prison for aggravated manslaughter, child neglect, lying to police and tampering with evidence.
Prosecutors said the remains of a child in woods off Interstate 295 near Bayard that Ebroln lead police to last were tentatively identified as Lonzie, who was in Ebron's care when he disappeared on July 24.
Assistant State Attorney Rich Mantei said Lonzie drowned in a bathtub after Ebron and the boy's mother, Lonna Barton, locked the boy in a room. They found him face down in the water. Police believe Ebron staged the boy's disappearance, which led to a massive, week-long search by hundreds of law enforcement officers and months of continuing investigation.
In court Friday, the public defender read a letter from Ebron apologizing to his family, Lonzie and Lonna Barton, who was Ebron's girlfriend when the boy disappeared, "None of you deserved the public scrutiny that this brought."
Lonna Barton pleaded guilty in January to charges of child neglect and lying to police. She has not yet been sentenced.