STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Prosecutors: Couple abandons child in Lafayette, changes her age, flees to Canada

A couple has been charged in a years-long investigation, accused of abandoning a girl in a Lafayette apartment and then leaving for Canada.

Posted: Sep 12, 2019 12:55 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2019 11:53 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A couple has been charged in a years-long investigation, accused of abandoning a girl in a Lafayette apartment and then leaving for Canada. Prosecutors say Michael and Kristine Barnett also legally changed the Ukranian girl's presumed age from 8-years-old to 22-years-old. 

"This is going to end up on a TV show," a law enforcement officer told News 18 Thursday.

The investigation began five years ago. In Sept. 2014, the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office was contacted by a school principal about a student. Officers spoke to the girl who said she had a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal. 

The girl told police she was adopted by the Barnetts in 2010. Court documents, filed Wednesday, said the family lived in Hamilton County for two years. Then, the girl told police the Barnetts rented an apartment on North 11th Street in Lafayette, left her alone and then moved with the rest of the family to Canada.

Before they left, prosecutors say the Barnetts had the girl's age legally changed to 22. The process by which her age was changed remains unclear. According to court documents, Kristine Barnett, also known as Kristine Pearson, told the girl to tell others she just "looks young." A law enforcement source told News 18 that "neighbors took her under their wing" and are cooperating in the investigation.

The couple admitted when interviewed Thursday Sept. 5, 2019 that they did not financially support the girl, other than paying rent, after leaving her in the apartment. They also admitted to changing the girl's age in June of 2012. 

A police officer told News 18 the girl was enrolled at the Excel Center. According to its website, the center is a tuition-free high school which provides adults and older youth the opportunity to earn a Core 40 high school diploma, industry-recognized certifications and college credit.

The girl moved out of Tippecanoe County in Feb. 2016, according to court documents.

Michael and Kristine Barnett are both charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent. The couple has not been arrested, and no mugshot is available.

Michael Barnett has a listed address in the 6000 block of Michigan Road in Indianapolis. Kristine Barnett has an address listed in the 8000 block of E. 16th Place in Indianapolis.

This is a developing story. News 18 is working to learn more. 

West Lafayette
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: °
Kokomo
Broken Clouds
34° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Rensselaer
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 27°
Fowler
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 27°
Williamsport
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: °
Crawfordsville
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 32°
Frankfort
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 31°
Delphi
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Monticello
Clear
29° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 29°
Logansport
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 27°
Tranquil pattern continues...
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 359430

Reported Deaths: 6033
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion48740894
Lake30537484
Allen20668338
St. Joseph19177245
Elkhart18813246
Hamilton15457182
Vanderburgh10956137
Tippecanoe1012335
Porter932192
Johnson7732177
Hendricks7353165
Vigo6736106
Monroe604854
Madison5858125
Clark575986
Delaware5535108
LaPorte5291105
Kosciusko512948
Howard417680
Bartholomew380065
Warrick364374
Wayne362893
Floyd360279
Marshall343150
Grant326753
Cass323232
Hancock320663
Noble292450
Boone282056
Henry280741
Dubois271934
Jackson266638
Morgan259246
Dearborn252832
Gibson220333
Shelby216661
Knox212122
DeKalb210838
Lawrence205951
Clinton204025
Wabash195224
Adams192724
Miami191218
Daviess176747
Montgomery171429
Steuben168616
Jasper167717
Harrison167025
Ripley167022
Fayette165839
Whitley162417
LaGrange159534
Huntington153311
White151224
Putnam147831
Decatur145246
Wells145035
Randolph143724
Clay140426
Jefferson139719
Posey135722
Scott129725
Greene121054
Jay115516
Sullivan111418
Jennings106315
Starke104328
Spencer9678
Fulton96419
Fountain9588
Washington9019
Perry89221
Carroll81313
Franklin80228
Orange77028
Vermillion74911
Owen72210
Parke7056
Tipton68327
Blackford66116
Rush6488
Newton62513
Pike59321
Pulaski49720
Benton4483
Brown4226
Martin4006
Crawford3611
Union3032
Warren2893
Switzerland2825
Ohio2507
Unassigned0285

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events