Remains believed to be those of a Florida toddler who disappeared last summer were discovered Monday in what authorities described as "basically a garbage heap."
"This is the first step in justice" for 1-year-old Lonzie Barton, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said in a statement early Tuesday. "Lonzie did not need to be discarded like a piece of trash."
Authorities said the chief suspect in the case, William Ruben Ebron, 32, led investigators to the site where the remains were found.
When Lonzie vanished on July 24, Ebron was living with the boy's mother, Lonna Barton, NBC station WTLV of Jacksonville reported. Ebron initially told police that his car was stolen with the toddler inside, although police later alleged that he was lying, the station reported.
Ebron was arrested on unrelated child neglect charges the same day Lonzie went missing, and the following month, his bail was revoked after he allegedly tried to escape from the Jacksonville jail where is being held, the station reported.
Lonna Barton, 26, was also charged with child neglect and providing false information to police in connection with Lonzie's disappearance. She pleaded guilty last week and agreed to testify against Ebron, according to WTLV.
State Attorney Angela Corey said at a news conference Monday that Barton's plea "started a series of meetings" with Ebron. Asked about a possible plea agreement with Ebron, Corey said she couldn't discuss the subject until a plea had been agreed to in open court.
The medical examiner hasn't yet seen the remains, and Sheriff Mike Williams said that because they had been left "in the elements," identification would be challenging. But the sheriff's office said it was confident that it had "located the remains of Lonzie Barton."