An Indiana man accused of altering his adopted daughter’s age from 11 to 22 years old and then leaving her behind in an apartment before fleeing to Canada has turned himself into authorities.
Michael Barnett turned himself in at the Tippecanoe County Jail on Wednesday and was released later the same evening after posting his $5,000 surety bond in addition to a to a $500 cash bond, the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
Kristine Barnett, his ex-wife, is also wanted in connection with the scheme. She has not yet turned herself in as of Thursday, according to jail records.
The couple earlier this month were charged with two counts of felony neglect of an independent and Tippecanoe County judge issued an arrest warrants for the pair.
Michael and Christine Barnett were still a happily married couple when they adopted a young girl in 2010. The Barnetts connected with the unidentified child after she came to the United States from the Ukraine via an adoption program in 2008, according to a probable cause affidavit.
She lived with the couple, who also have three sons, for about two years in their home in Hamilton County — just outside Indianapolis — before her adoptive parents put her in a rented apartment in Lafayette. Other than paying the rent, they offered her no other support.
“She was left alone in the apartment in Lafayette while the rest of the Barnett family moved to Canada,” investigators wrote in the affidavit, adding that the girl has not seen her adoptive parents since.
While speaking with detectives earlier this month, Michael Barnett said he and his wife had the girl’s age legally changed to 22 in June 2012 and that his wife told her to explain any questions away by simply saying she “looks young.”
Authorities have not said how long the girl lived alone in the apartment nor what sparked the investigation that culminated in charges against the Barnetts.
According to the affidavit, doctors at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital examined Barnett’s daughter, who has also been diagnosed with a type of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal, and concluded she was somewhere around 8 years old. It’s not clear when the exam took place.
But Kristine Barnett in Facebook messages sent to WISH-TV last week said the situation was “complicated,” adding that the girl was a diagnosed sociopath and psychopath. The mother claimed the adoption was actually a “scam” and maintained that her adopted daughter had been an adult the entire time.
“I am sick and devastated from the idea of any of theses charges and maintain they are false charges,” she wrote in a Facbeook post on Sunday.
“Friends and family, you decide if what you are reading is real or fake for yourselves.”
Kristine Barnett is the author of the 2013 book “The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius and Autism,” according to People. It’s a memoir about her life as mother to her son, Jacob, whose “extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism.”
“At age two when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age 12 he became a paid researcher in quantum physics,” according to the book’s description on Amazon.
“Dramatic, inspiring and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies with every child, and in all of us.”
According to court documents Michael filed for divorce from Kristine Barnett in 2014.
With News Wire Services