An Indiana husband accused with his wife of abandoning their adopted daughter in an apartment alone before fleeing to Canada has spoken out, alleging the daughter is a “sociopath” and a “con artist” who is actually an adult.
Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America, Michael Barnett, 43, said that he and his wife, Kristine, 45, thought they were adopting an 8-year-old girl from Ukraine back in 2010.
The daughter has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal, and two years after the adoption, the Barnetts had the daughter’s age changed to 22. Barnett told GMA he and his wife now think she may be as old as 33.
Barnett said doctors treating the daughter — identified only as Natalia — told them “this person is a sociopath. This person is a con artist. You are all in danger.”
According to Barnett, Natalia was bent on causing them harm.
“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,” Barnett said.
Barnett even accused her of trying to kill his wife by dragging her towards an electric fence.
Natalia is now staying with a different family in the United States, GMA reports.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Michael and Kristine Barnett have both been charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
It was unclear who Kristine’s lawyer is. An attorney for Michael did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
WLFI reported that on Sept. 5, Kristine and Michael allegedly admitted to changing the Natalia’s legal age, but did not specify how they did so. They also allegedly told authorities that they rented out an apartment for Natalia but said they did not provide her with any other financial support other than paying the rent.
It is not known how long Natalia lived in the apartment before police got involved.
Kristine is a published author, who gained fame following the release of her book The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism in 2013.
The book, which received rave reviews from the Washington Post and Newsday, is a memoir about Kristine’s life as a mother to her son Jacob, whose “extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism.”