Natalia Barnett denies being ‘evil dwarf’ set on killing adoptive parents
A Ukrainian dwarf adopted in the US has denied claims she masqueraded as a child and tried to kill her adoptive parents, as she spoke out for the first time.
Natalia Grace Barnett suffers from a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal.
She was adopted in 2010 by an Indiana couple, now divorced, who are alleged to have abandoned her more than five years ago — leaving her alone in an apartment before fleeing north to Canada.
Michael Barnett, 43, and his then-wife, Kristine, 45, contend they thought they were adopting an eight-year-old child, but now allege Natalia is a “sociopath” and a “con artist” who is actually an adult woman.
In 2012 they had her age legally changed to 22, but they now believe she may be as old as 33.
Natalia insists she is 16, and said: "I just want people to hear my side.”
On Thursday she tearfully told the US chat show Dr Phil that she was indeed a teenager, and was baffled by the Barnett’s claims.
"They say that you scammed them. That you lied about your age and came over here and terrorised them," the host said. He asked her whether she was an "evil dwarf…an evil psychopath demon child".
“It’s not true at all,” she replied, tears rolling down her cheeks as she denied ever wanting to kill them. “I’m 16. I was 6 years old when I came to the United States.”
Natalia claimed that she lived with “at least 30 families” after first landing here from Ukraine before finally feeling “safe” when adopted by the Barnetts in Indiana.
Mr Barnett has said he and his ex-wife were suspicious from the beginning, after, on the first night, Mrs Barnett was giving Natalia a bath and noticed that she had full pubic hair. Later, he claimed they learned of her hiding her menstrual cycle.
Mr Barnett claims that his adoptive daughter was threatening and violent – even dragging his wife towards an electric fence in an attempt to harm her.
Mrs Barnett confronted the young woman after catching her pouring household cleaner into her coffee, her husband said. He claims she replied: “I’m trying to kill you.”
“Natalia would do things like place clear thumb tacks on the stairs face up so that when we would walk up the stairs, we would be stepping on thumb tacks to pain and injure ourselves,” he said.
Speaking on another chat show, Dr Oz, Mr Barnett said last month that he had taken Natalia for psychological evaluation.
“While at the stress centre, she was documenting, she was telling doctors, she was telling therapists, she was writing down in her notepad: ‘Not only am I trying to kill Kristine, but I’m going to kill the brothers, too. Here’s how I’m going to do it. Here’s what I’m going to do with their bodies.’”
Mr Barnett claims the professionals agreed that she was an adult.
The Barnetts then decided to move to Canada, with their three biological children.
“We helped get her set up in an apartment near the town that we live in. We paid her first three months’ rent; we set her up with disability, social security, food stamps. I checked on her a couple times a week. She was fine,” he told Dr Oz.
Yet Natalia claims she was abandoned.
In 2016 she was taken in by Antwon and Cynthia Mans, who believe she is a child. They insisted she had not begun her menstrual cycle.
The couple told Dr Oz that Natalia never displayed any psychotic behavior, and that the Barnetts likely couldn’t afford the healthcare costs for Natalia’s multiple surgeries.
The Barnetts have been charged with neglect of a dependent, a felony. Their trial is set to begin in January.
"I just want them to give up on the whole charade,” said Natalia.
“I just want this to be over. I want them to have their normal lives back, after this is all over and they did their time. They should do the responsible thing, do their time, then get right with God."
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