UPDATE: ‘Most Wanted’ joins hunt for Union couple

Law enforcement hopes the popular TV show “America’s Most Wanted” will help them find Janet and Ramon Barreto, who apparently slipped away from Union County to evade charges surrounding the 2008 death of their adopted daughter.

A crew from “America’s Most Wanted” is in New Albany today.

Authorities say the Barretos, who were out of jail on $450,000 bond each, could have gone to Mexico, where Ramon has family.

“America’s Most Wanted” began 22 years ago by John Walsh, after his 6-year-old son was abducted and murdered. It airs at 8 p.m. Saturdays on Fox Network and features stories about unsolved crimes and wanted fugitives.

The show’s staff learned of the Barreto case and approached Union County officials about featuring it in one of the episodes.

The Barretos adopted seven infants, believed to be from Guatemala. Two-year-old Ena, one of those children, died of severe head and lower body trauma May 19, 2008, after their stepsister, Marainna Torres, struck her and threw her into a baby bed in their home at 824 County Road 87.

Torres, 18, allegedly was forced by her mother to care for the family’s numerous young children.

On July 2008 she entered a guilty plea to manslaughter by culpable negligence.

Prosecutors say she has cooperated on the case against her mother and stepfather. At her plea hearing, she told Judge Andrew Howorth she hoped for leniency by pleading guilty. She faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The Barretos’ legal situation changed in the spring when Janet reportedly made a threatening telephone call to Torres, in jail after she admitted she killed Ena in a fit of rage. A grand jury then indicted Janet on a charge of tampering with a witness.

If convicted, the couple faces up to 50 years in the manslaughter and neglect charges, and 20 years to life on the child abuse charges. Janet Barreto could face additional time on the threat charge.

The Barretos did not take any of their children with them. Those not in protective custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services have been privately adopted.

A reward is offered for information leading to their arrest.


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