File this one under the “you just can’t make this shit up department.”
A woman, who is accused of abandoning her eight year old daughter, and then fleeing to Canada, is defending her actions by saying the adopted “girl” is not a child, but a 22 year-old con-artist dwarf, who threated to kill her and her family!
Kristine Barnett and her ex-husband Michael Barnett were charged with neglect after leaving Ukraine-born Natalie Grace in an apartment shortly before the family moved to Canada in 2013.
The family paid Natalie’s rent after they left the United States but otherwise broke off contact, Michael Barnett reportedly told police.
Natalie is 3ft tall and has trouble walking.
In what must have been one of the most bizarre defenses in a case of child abandonment ever raised, Ms. Barnett, now 45, says at the time Natalie was “22-years-old” when they left her behind – “not nine,” as court documents claim.
According to a letter from their family doctor, which Ms. Barnett recently provided to a local TV station that was doing a segment on the strange case, Natalie’s date of birth at the time of adoption was “clearly inaccurate.”
The letter, which Indiana University health officials (the hospital on the doctor’s letterhead) have not confirmed as genuine, states that she had adult teeth and had begun menstruating. The Barnett’s had the girl’s age legally changed from eight to 22 in 2012, making her legal date of birth September 4, 1989.
Death Threats and Other Odd Behavior
Ms Barnett has told the press that Natalie had attempted to harm her and other members of the Barnett family.
“She was hiding knives in our couches. She was talking about [how] she was going to kill family members. She put chemicals in the coffee,” Ms Barnett said.
“She would do crazy things like jumping out of moving cars. She was smearing blood on mirrors. She was doing things you could never imagine a little child doing, said Barnett. “She would stand over people in their sleep. She would be standing in the middle of the room and say ‘I’m waiting for the right time’.”
Natalie was in and out of mental health facilities, but was left in an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana in 2013 when the Barnetts moved to Canada to support their son, Jacob, in further education.
The Barnett family is already known to the world through Jacob – a child prodigy who was the subject of a 2012 episode of 60 Minutes. At the age of 12, Jacob was taking university math classes and is currently pursuing a PhD in quantum gravity at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
It is not clear what happened to Natalie since she was left in Lafayette, although court documents obtained by local media suggest that she was evicted from the apartment in 2014.
The Barnetts are due to appear in court later this month.
If all of this sounds like something out of a horror movie, it pretty much echoes the plot of the 2009 film “The Orphan.” In that movie a couple who adopt a 9 year old, after the loss of her own baby, soon find that the girl is maniacal and manipulative. As the girl, Esther, gets increasingly more violent and eventually, homicidal, the adoptive parents come to find out that, “Esther” is actually a 33-year-old woman named Leena Klammer. She has a condition known as hypopituitarism, that has stunted her physical growth and caused “proportional dwarfism,” and she has spent most of her life posing as a little girl!
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!