Daily Journal staff report
UPDATE: News conference in Oxford
OXFORD – U.S. Marshals arrested Janet and Ramon Barreto Tuesday at a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon, ending their five-year fugitive status related to multiple charges in Union County for child abuse and neglect.
Federal and local officials reported details today about the arrests, culuminating a cross-country search. The Barretos were arrested at 7:15 p.m. CST.
Janet Barreto and Ramon Barreto are each wanted for failure to appear on original charges of manslaughter of a child, three counts of child abuse, six counts of child neglect and tampering with a witness.
Authorities reported a news conference at the Federal Courthouse Ramon was identified by a digital search of his fingerprints. Janet Barreto first refused to identify herself.
“Barreto’s arrest is a testament to the outstanding investigative work of our task forces, which combine the efforts of our deputies and our state and local partners,” said U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Mississippi Dennis Erby. “The force multiplying ability of our task forces played a key role in bringing her to justice.”
The fugitive investigation for the Barretos gained significant momentum when a concerned citizen called the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Oxford on Monday with information about them in Oregon or Washington. The caller also alerted Marshals of Janet Barreto possibly having an infant with her.
In less than 24 hours, a collateral lead about Barreto’s possible location was transmitted to the U.S. Marshals-led Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force in Washington State, which ultimately led to her capture. An infant found with the Barretos during their arrest was placed with child protective services.
“The crimes they are alleged to have committed are nothing short of horrendous and despicable, and now it is time to let justice be served,” Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said.
Both Barretos are held in the Multnomah County Detention Center in Portland awaiting extradition.
Updated 1:15 p.m. with comments from Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards and Third District Attorney Ben Creekmore
TUPELO – U.S. Marshals confirm the capture in Oregon of New Albany fugitives Ramon, 35, and Janet Barreto, 39, wanted in the slaying death of a two-year-old child from Guatemala, along with multiple child abuse and neglect counts.
The Barretos rank among the top 15 fugitives by the U.S. Marshal’s Service after the 2009 investigation in Union County.
A 2 p.m. news conference is scheduled today in Oxford.
The Barretos left their trailer home near New Albany in May 2009, a year after the death of their 2-year-old adopted daughter, Enna, one of several children they
adopted from Guatemala.
After they made bail, they eluded law enforcement and probably escaped to Mexico, authorities say.
They still face multiple charges including manslaughter by culpable negligence, child abuse and child endangerment. Janet Barreto also faces a witness tampering charge. Convictions on all these charges could results in life sentences for both the husband and wife.
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards and his wife adopted one of the several children from the Barreto household. but declined to talk about the arrests’ impact on his family.
“I’m going to leave all that part out,” he said. “We’re just hoping that justice is going to be served on these individuals that committed these heinous crimes in Union County. And we’re never forgetting Enna, the little one who died, or all the things they’re accused of doing.
“We’re thankful to the marshal’s service for never giving up on this hunt. They kept following leads, stayed after them, and five years later, they’re captured.”
During the five-year manhunt, Third District Attorney Ben Creekmore said he trusted the Barretos would not be able to remain hidden indefinitely.
“Time is on my side, not theirs,” Creekmore said.
The case against them remains active on the criminal docket.
“It will be a priority case for us,” said Creekmore, who anticipates he will be able to say more at a 2 p.m. press conference in Oxford following a briefing by the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Edwards said the abuse that was uncovered in the Barreto household motivated him and his staff to take even more seriously prevention of crimes against children and vulnerable adults.
“We work even closer with our marshal’s service to check our sex offenders. We’ve had an arrest this week and one last week on charges of sexual abuse against children.”
The pursuit of the Barretos has strengthened the relationship between the Union County Sheriff Department and the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
“Dennis Spencer retired from the marshal’s service and now works here. One of his top priorities while he was there was getting these two captured,” Edwards said. “Gale Manning also worked with the marshal’s service and now works with us. We appreciate what the marshal’s service does. They’ve got a longer reach and more resources than we do.”
The Daily Journal extensively covered this case since the initial investigation. Click here to view the June 25, 2013, piece about the Barretos’ previous success at eluding federal authorities.
Read the Journal’s June 2010 three-part series on the case:
- Barretos’ daughter described life at home to police
- Barreto case: a hidden truth
- Feds hope brother can help find Barretos
Djournal.com will post updates as updates develop. On Twitter, we use the hashtag #DJbarreto.