Shock claim: My dwarf girl 'tried to kill us'
A mother accused of abandoning a young girl in a rented apartment just two years after she and her husband adopted her has made extraordinary claims in a new interview.
Kristine Barnett claims she only dumped the girl she adopted after numerous medical professionals assured her the girl was an adult who was mentally unstable.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Mail, Ms Barnett claims the girl, who had dwarfism, began exhibiting adult behaviours, and when challenged about her age, she became violent and menacing.
Ms Barnett was charged with neglect of a dependent earlier this month, along with her ex-husband Michael Barnett, for abandoning her adopted Ukrainian daughter in Indiana in the United States in 2013.
Police have alleged the girl, Natalia Grace, managed to survive after being dumped in an apartment in Lafayette by befriending neighbours before eventually being interviewed by police the year after she was abandoned.
Before dumping their daughter, the couple had her age legally changed so she was considered an adult despite numerous hospital records deeming her to be a child.
Mr and Ms Barnett, 43 and 45, meanwhile, are alleged to have absconded to Canada, where they focused on raising their other children, including their autistic son, who has previously made headlines for being a child genius.
Police charges against the former couple claim Natalia was abandoned in an area where she knew nobody. The couple claimed to have paid rent on the apartment for a long period, but Natalia was reportedly evicted in May 2014 for not having paid rent, according to The Washington Post.
A law enforcement agent claimed she was taken in by neighbours, but police had reportedly been unable to find the young girl when looking for her. Police did track her down in 2014, a year after her adoptive parents left, after the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office received an alert from a concerned school principal.
At this time, the girl's biological age would have been 12 or 13, but her legal age, changed in 2012 by the Barnetts, was reaching her mid-20s.
MS BARNETT'S EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS
Ms Barnett has refuted the police charges against her in a new interview with Daily Mail TV, claiming the girl was a violent sociopathic adult, who was masquerading as a child.
"She would make statements and draw pictures saying she wanted to kill family members, roll them up in a blanket and put them in the backyard," Ms Barnett said.
"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."
Ms Barnett claims all the doctors she saw "confirmed (Natalia) 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," she said.
Ms Barnett said she became disturbed by her adopted daughter's behaviour, including a day at the beach, where she suddenly saw Natalia get up and run.
"We did notice immediately in the parking lot that she couldn't walk. There was nothing in the (adoption) paperwork stating that," she said.
But she said on the day they first took her to the beach, they noticed she suddenly "just got up and ran into the ocean".
"I remember looking at Mike and thinking, 'What's going on?' She couldn't walk a second ago and now she just got up and ran," Ms Barnett said.
Ms Barnett also claimed that when she saw Natalia bathe she had "full pubic hair" and was concealing bloody clothing she thought was a sign of her menstruating. She also said Natalia shunned spending time with little girls her age and age-appropriate toys.
"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," Ms Barnett said.
She also claimed Natalia had no trace of a Ukrainian accent, and when the family invited a friend to speak in the language of her home, Natalia failed to communicate with her.
As her fears escalated, Ms Barnett claims she contacted the family doctor, who suggested a bone density test.
She told The Daily Mail the results suggested Natalia was 14 or older. However, according to a skeletal survey obtained by police, Natalia's age was determined to be 11 in 2012.
Ms Barnett said Natalia began misbehaving when her age was questioned and started dressing more like an adult.
In the interview, Ms Barnett claims Natalia attacked her, including dragging her onto an electric fence at a 2012 birthday event.
Ms Barnett claimed during this period, Natalia confessed to mental health professionals that she was, indeed, older than she had presented. She claims Natalia spent time in psychiatric facilities at this time, and her family doctor corroborates these claims.
The couple had Natalia's age legally changed from eight to 22 via Indiana court probate. Probate is a legal process where a person's legal guardian can make changes to an individual's birth certificate or other documents.
Ms Barnett claimed the change was made so Natalia's mental health treatment could be managed more effectively.
After leaving Natalia in a rented apartment as an "adult" in 2012, Ms Barnett said she was "optimistic" that Natalia had a plan for her life, but she soon cut off contact with Ms Barnett.
In 2013, the Barnetts moved to Canada.
CHARGES AGAINST MR AND MRS BARNETT
Police allegations against the couple tell a different story to Ms Barnett's claims about Natalia being an adult.
The couple were charged on September 11 with one count each of neglect of a dependent, a felony, for dumping Natalia in the apartment after changing her age from eight to 22, according to NBC.
Hospital records in the police affidavit show her age to be about eight years old in June 2010 when she was adopted by the couple. Other hospital records from June 2011 suggest she was about 11 years of age.
When authorities talked with Mr Barnett, he said Ms Barnett changed Natalia's age in 2012 despite medical evidence suggesting she was a child.
Mr Barnett's lawyer said he was "distraught" over the charges and believed the couple were the victims of the girl defrauding them.
Mr Barnett turned himself into authorities on September 18 and was released after paying bail of $8077.
Ms Barnett turned herself in the following day and was released after paying her own bail
The couple divorced in 2014, a year after they moved to Canada.