The woman claims that the ‘girl’ hid knives around the house, put bleach in her coffee, and tried to shove her into an electric fence.
Kristine Barnett and her now ex-husband, Michael Barnett, were considered model parents. Kristine was an advocate and role model for parents of autistic children after her work with her son, Jacob, who went from a non-verbal, uncommunicative autistic boy to a child prodigy and potential Nobel Prize winner.
[Full disclosure: I met Kristine at a conference for parents about alternative forms of education several years ago after her book had been published. During the full-day conference, she seemed to be a delightful person. She spoke lovingly about children and nurturing them and their God-given gifts. Her son, Jacob, was there as well, though I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to him.]
Now, Kristine and Michael have been charged with child neglect in Lafayette, Indiana for “abandoning a dependant” when she was 9 years old, putting her in an apartment, and moving to Canada in 2013. Michael and Kristine surrendered themselves to police on September 18 and 19, respectively. Kristine was released after posting a $5,500 bond, Michael was released after posting a $5,000 bond. The court date for Michael is September 24.
The story is a really bizarre one.
In 2010, the Barnetts wanted to expand their family. The ran a child daycare from their home, were experienced foster parents, and were nurturing their autistic son, Jacob into the physics scholar that he has become.
Kristine Barnett said, “I always wanted to have a larger family and I had very severe complications in my pregnancies and was unable to have more children. I also at that time had a very privileged life. I felt that if I had the ability to help another person in the world then I wanted to do it.”
In May 2010, they adopted Natalia Grace, a Ukranian-born girl and rushed to collect her from Florida. The Barnetts were given just 24-hours to make an “emergency adoption” because her former adoptive parents had suddenly given her up for undisclosed reasons. The Barnetts were told that Natalia had been in the United States for 2 years.
Kristine Barnett, 45, and her ex-husband Michael Barnett, 43, are alleged to have dumped Ukrainian-born Natalia Grace at an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana in 2013 before moving to Canada one month later and breaking off contact.
Police say the girl was left to fend for herself for three years despite having a rare form of dwarfism that means she is 3ft tall and has problems walking.
Kristine says that that’s not what happened at all and that the charging documents claiming that Natalia was abandoned at age 9 are incorrect — according to doctors reports, Natalia was 22 years old. The “girl” had been using her dwarfism to pose as a child. The “girl” didn’t grow an inch, had adult teeth, and Kristine was shocked to discover when getting the girl ready for a bath that she had pubic hair.
Barnett claims the true victims are her and her family who were terrorized for years by the mysterious impostor who threatened to stab them in their sleep, pushed her towards an electric fence and poured bleach in her coffee.
‘The movie ‘Orphan’ is exactly what happened.
Here’s a local news report:
The things that Kristine says that the Barnett family endured is literally the stuff of horror films.
‘She was standing over people in the middle of the night. You couldn’t go to sleep. We had to hide all the sharp objects.
‘I saw her putting chemicals, bleach, Windex something like that, in my coffee and I asked her, what are you doing? She said, “I am trying to poison you.”
‘The media is painting me to be a child abuser but there is no child here,’ said Barnett.
‘Natalia was a woman. She had periods. She had adult teeth. She never grew a single inch, which would happen even with a child with dwarfism.
‘The doctors all confirmed she was suffering a severe psychological illness only diagnosed in adults.
‘She was jumping out of moving cars. She was smearing blood on mirrors. She was doing things you could never imagine a little child doing.’
There were many things that made Kristine suspicious about Natalia’s age — she was annoyed by other children, shunned dolls and toys, but it wasn’t just her behavior, her vocabulary was startlingly advanced for a child. Kristine also discovered that Natalia was hiding evidence that she had been having menstrual periods by throwing out her clothes.
At one point, Natalia told Kristine who had been running a small school from her home, “these children are exhausting, I don’t know how you do it.” It’s a weird thing for a child to say about other children and more like what an adult would say about working with kids.
‘It’s very hard to decipher how old she is because she has such a unique look. But at that time I started to believe she was probably a teenager.
‘But I didn’t have any regrets. This was what I wanted to do. I felt overwhelming love for her.’
A bone density test was done to determine Natalia’s age. The test determined that Natalia was over the age of 14, so Barnett purchased more age-appropriate clothing for her.
By 2011 Barnett says that Natalia was smearing bodily fluid on walls, making death threats and hearing voices as her mental health broke down.
Natalia would spend the next year or so being treated for various psychiatric disorders, spending days to weeks at a time at the St Vincent Indianapolis Stress Center.
When Barnett claims she tried to drag her on to an electric fence during a 2012 birthday outing, Natalia was placed long-term at a state-run psychiatric unit because she allegedly posed a risk to others.
It was during treatment that Barnett insists that Natalia confessed to being far older than she appeared.
While she was in the facility, Natalia admitted that she was actually older than she claimed to be. One therapist said that Natalia had said that she was 18 in 2012. Natalia also admitted some other very disturbing things.
Then, at Larue Carter Hospital in Indianapolis, in June 2012, staff said she had described how she had tried to kill family members and had no remorse about it, with Natalia going as far as to describe it as fun to staff.
Most revealing of all is perhaps a letter from the Barnetts’ primary care physician Andrew McLaren MD, dated March 2012, in which he says Natalia’s 2003 birth date was clearly inaccurate and that Natalia had made a career out of pretending to be a young child. He said Natalia fooled him, her parents and other physicians.
In 2012, a detective contacted the FBI and ICE to determine if immigration fraud had occurred in Natalia’s entry into the United States before the Barnetts had had any involvement with the girl. Nothing came of it.
In June 2012, the Barnetts made an appeal to the Marion County Superior Court in Indianapolis to have Natalia’s age changed to receive adult treatment for her psychiatric problems. Judge Gerald S. Zore determined that the Barnetts’ claim that she was older was indeed true and adjusted her birthdate from September 4, 2003, to September 4, 1989.
But other bone density tests confirmed that Natalia was a minor child.
A September 11 affidavit of probable cause obtained by DailyMailTV states that an expert at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital named Dr. Riggs carried out bone density tests on Natalia in June 2010.
It concluded she was aged approximately eight years old.
A further skeletal test carried out two years later at the same facility concluded she was around 11 years old.
The affidavit reveals that it was Natalia herself who told police in 2014 that she had been ‘left alone’ when her adoptive parents moved to Canada, with cops concluding she was a ‘reliable and credible’ witness.
It does not explain, however, why detectives waited five years to put the allegations to Michael Barnett, who divorced Kristine in 2014, remarried and has settled back in Indiana.
Despite all of this, in August 2012, Kristine set up Natalia in an apartment, co-signing the lease, prepaid it for a year, created a life plan, got her enrolled in school, helped to get a Social Security number, identification, and other government assistance. She purchased groceries and furniture for Natalia. Kristine says it was the same as when you send a child off to college. She told Natalia, who was then approximately 23-years old, that she’d help her financially for a year and then she’d be on her own. Kristine even stepped in when Natalia was evicted from one apartment for causing trouble and had her set up in another apartment. They were in contact daily and Natalia was managing to live on her own.
Then, in 2013, the Barnetts moved to Waterloo, Ontario, Canada for Jacob to pursue his education. Once that happened, Kristine says Natalia stopped returning her calls and disappeared. She feared that Natalia had stopped taking her medication and was posing as a child again.
Here is the Daily Mail interview with Kristine Barnett:
The Barnetts, the attorneys, or anyone else seems to know Natalia’s current whereabouts.
Michael and Kristine divorced in 2014. He remarried and moved back to Indiana. As the child neglect case was being investigated, Michael Barnett was interviewed for 3-hours by police without an attorney present. One officer states that Michael admitted that he knew all along that Natalia was a minor child when she was allegedly abandoned and that Kristine told Natalia to tell everyone that she was 22 even though she looked younger. Michael’s lawyer disputes this claim stating that the statements were “taken out of context.”
Both Kristine and Michael maintain that they are innocent.
‘I am being charged by the state of Indiana for crimes against a child when the state of Indiana has determined multiple times that Natalia was an adult,’ added Kristine, who asked for her location to remain confidential over threats her family have received.
‘From day one this was a mission of love. But when you bring a child into your home, you expect them to be a child. ‘To be accused of this is a unconscionable to me. It’s just horrifying.’
Source: Daily Mail
Natalia’s court records are sealed despite the fact that she may be 30 years old.
The last time that either of the Barnetts saw Natalia was when Michael did in 2016. At the time, another couple, Antwon and Cynthia Mans, were attempting to assume guardianship over Natalia, which meant overturning the changing of her birth year to 1989, thus making her a minor again. Michael Barnett was called to testify and the judge upheld the original decision and the couple dropped the guardianship petition.