JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — William Ebron, the father of William "Ruben" Ebron, the suspect in the disappearance of 21-month-old Lonzie Barton, spoke to Action News from his home in north Jacksonville.
It’s a stark contrast to what is happening across town, where the search for Lonzie continues.
Ebron said his family is devastated, and his advice to his son is to start talking.
“I told him this is the time to be forthcoming as you can, because you should be concentrated on this baby. It’s not about anything else but the baby," Ebron said.
Ebron said his son is devastated, just as he and his wife are.
Ruben told investigators in an affidavit that he left his girlfriend's children in a car alone before picking up their mother from work so he could do cocaine.
He said the 5-year-old went back upstairs and found him because she was afraid.
When he came back, the car and Lonzie were gone, he said.
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“He maintains that the car was stolen and the baby was in it. You're standing by your son?” Action News anchor Dawn Lopez said.
“I'm not even concerned about that,” Ebron said. “That's the thing. I'm making it clear to everyone, the neglect part, he has to deal with that through the courts. I just want the baby found."
Ebron's father said they are a private family. In fact, they have never had a chance to meet their son's girlfriend or her children. He said he never would have imagined that his son would be at the center of a missing child investigation.
"I'm a 30-year military vet. He was raised with both his mother and father. He wasn't raised in the street. We sheltered him. We moved around the country a lot, so he's had a diverse background of friends,” Ebron said.
He said his heart hurts for everyone involved, and all he can do is hold on to hope and pray.
“I'm praying every day and I just finished my prayer session. I think God is going to answer that prayer," Ebron said.
Ebron said his son has three children. The oldest is 7and the youngest was born in January.
The family is waiting to talk to the older children about what their father is facing and how best to approach the topic when the time is right.