The capture this week in Oregon of fugitives Janet and Ramon Barreto, who fled the process of justice in Union County five years ago when facing manslaughter and felony child abuse charges, among others, continues a story of law enforcement diligence and patience spread over thousands of miles.
The Barretos, whose life appears to be an archetype of chaos, family dysfunction and criminality, were charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence in the death of a baby daughter, Enna, at the hands of a 17-year-old sister, Marainna Torres, who was forced under abusive circumstances and threats to care for seven children the Barretos had adopted from Guatemala between 2005 and 2008.
Torres was convicted and served five years for her crime, and she agreed to serve as a prosecution witness.
Her testimony, and the physical evidence of life and death in the Barreto household, awaits the older Barretos when they are returned to Union County for the rest of the justice process.
Among other things, Torres said in a transcribed statement obtained and reported by the Daily Journal in 2010, that a Tupelo adoption agency’s home inspector never went past the Barretos’ double-wide’s front room and never saw the unelectrified “back trailer” where multiple young children sometimes were bound with duct tape to keep them quiet.
“Adoptions stopped when 2-year-old Enna died after Torres threw her into a plywood-bottomed baby bed in 2008,” former Journal reporter Patsy Brumfield reported in 2010.
Investigators found the Barreto home littered with garbage, food, soiled diapers, dog feces, dirty laundry and spent needles Janet Barreto used to administer diabetes medication, Brumfield reported.
Photographs of the littered household look like documentaries about hoarders.
The Barretos also ran a puppy mill on their property, selling the dogs to earn a living. Those conditions have been described as filthy and inhumane.
It remains that the Barretos, despite disturbing evidence, have not been tried or convicted because they fled, but that could change sooner rather than later.
The criminal case file has remained open the whole time the Barretos were on the run, reportedly selling puppies and DVDs in parking lots along the way. A black hole remains about their full route as fugitives, although it is assumed they spent time in Mexico, Ramon Barreto’s native country. But they left a trail followed by law enforcement nationwide, who stopped their flight in Oregon.
The end of the story hasn’t been written, and that chapter will fall to a court or courts in Mississippi and a jury of peers.