A woman accused of abusing a 2-year-old girl to the point of causing the baby’s death and then not showing up for her trial was arrested Tuesday in Portland, and authorities say the woman may have been living in a Vancouver apartment for the past year.
Janet Killough Barreto is wanted in Mississippi for failing to appear on charges of manslaughter of a child, three counts of child abuse, six counts of child neglect and tampering with a witness, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Barreto and her husband, Ramon Barreto, allegedly traveled to Guatemala multiple times in 2005 and 2006 to adopt children, but when they returned to the U.S., the couple allegedly abused the children, left them malnourished and forced them to live in “deplorable conditions,” according to a news release from the law enforcement agency. The children reportedly received abusive punishments, including being duct-taped to their beds, punched in the stomach and having their heads submerged under water.
In 2008, one of the adopted children, a 2-year-old girl, died as a result of the abuse, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
Janet Barreto was arrested in 2008 and released on bond. The following year, she was arrested for witness tampering and released on bond again. Two months later, she didn’t show up for her trial in the death of the 2 year old.
“Janet Barreto is a malicious individual who allegedly abused innocent children on multiple occasions and forced them to live in appalling conditions,” William Snelson, U.S. Marshals Service’s assistant director for investigative operations, said June 2013 in a news release announcing that Janet Barreto had been added to the agency’s 15 Most Wanted list.
A reward of up to $25,000 was offered for information leading to Janet Barreto’s arrest. Barreto’s husband also was sought by authorities.
At about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, someone spotted the couple with an 11-month-old boy leaving Burlington Coat Factory in the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter, said Eric Wahlstrom, a supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal. The couple was taken into custody and authorities called Child Protective Services to take the boy.
The Barretos were using the aliases Emily and Juan Chavez, Wahlstrom said. Officials recently interviewed one of Janet Barreto’s associates, who said Barreto and her husband have been living in a Vancouver apartment for the past year, he said.
The couple was booked into the Multnomah County jail and face extradition to Mississippi.