Barreto added to Marshals' most wanted list

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — A woman wanted in Mississippi in the death of a 2-year-old girl has been added to the U.S. Marshals Service’s Most Wanted fugitive list.

Janet Killough Barreto is wanted in Union County for failure to appear on charges of manslaughter, three counts of child abuse, six counts of child neglect and tampering with a witness.

Barreto also is wanted by federal authorities for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

A news release says Barreto and her husband Ramon Barreto are suspected of traveling to Guatemala to purchase children from an adoption agency from 2005 to 2006.

Authorities say the children were physically abused, malnourished and forced to sleep in deplorable conditions.

Authorities say that in 2008 the abuse led to the death of one of the adopted children.

The news release says the children were, on various occasions, taped to their beds, punched in the stomach and forced to endure having their heads submerged under water.

“Janet Barreto is a malicious individual who allegedly abused innocent children on multiple occasions and forced them to live in appalling conditions,” William D. Snelson, U.S. Marshals Service Assistant Director for Investigative Operations, said in the news release. “Through her alleged crimes, Barreto demonstrated a blatant disregard and lack of respect for life other than her own.”

The news release says Barreto was originally arrested in May 2008 and released in December that year on bond. In March 2009, she was re-arrested for tampering with a witness and released on bond again. Two months later, in May 2009, she failed to appear for her trial.

Her husband is also wanted in connection with the crimes. They are believed to have ties in Mexico, California, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas.

A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading directly to Barreto’s arrest.