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IRL Orphan Natalia Grace Barnett's Adoptive Father & Brother Say She Was 'Trying To Kill' Family In Shocking New Doc

IRL Orphan Natalia Grace's Adoptive Father & Brother Say She Was 'Trying To Kill' Family In Shocking New Doc

Natalia Grace Barnett‘s story is finally being told — and it is still confusing as ever!

You might recall a few years ago a story about a young orphan made headlines when her adoptive family claimed she was actually an adult woman hellbent on killing them. The whole thing seemed pulled straight from Orphan, but it was real!

If you’re not caught up on the case, the drama all began when Michael Barnett and his wife Kristine Barnett adopted a Ukrainian child who was born with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, a rare genetic disorder, whom they were told was 6 years old. Once the adoption went through in 2010, the parents and their three sons began to believe Natalia was far older than she said and they even managed to get Marion County Superior Court to agree to legally change the girl’s birth record to indicate she was born in 1989 — not 2003. Now that she was legally a 20-something, they moved her into an apartment in Lafayette, Indiana while they moved with their sons to Canada.

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There, she befriended neighbors Antwon and Cynthia Mans who welcomed her into their home. She soon appeared on a viral episode of Dr. Phil to share her story. The Barnetts were then charged and arrested for neglect in 2019 and were ultimately cleared.

Now, those who knew the orphan are opening up about the case, including Michael and his son Jake. In a three-night, six-part special, The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, on Investigation Discovery which began on Monday, filmmakers attempt to find answers in a complicated case — and what is revealed is sure to blow your mind!

Story’s Not Straight

Throughout the first two hours of the documentary, Michael admitted he and his wife began to become skeptical of Natalia’s real age when Kristine discovered she had “full pubic hair” when giving her one of her first baths. They pushed these initial concerns aside at the time because “all that mattered was there’s a little girl that needs love and needs a home.”

Things escalated within “the first few months” and he claimed they began to see her “dark side.” Part of this included Natalia revealing she was “hiding” the fact she had her period, her mysterious behavior when anyone asked about her Ukrainian upbringing, and making threats against her new family. The adoptive father shared:

“Anytime we spoke to Natalia, ‘Hey tell us about the orphanage,’ nothing. […] I swear on all things holy, Natalia’s never heard a word of Ukrainian in her life.”

He continued:

“We don’t know who she is, we don’t know where she’s really from, for all I know, she had been living in the Ukraine for 20 years and found her way out. For all I know, she’s an American citizen that got this to happen.”

Now, Michael has been left with “no wife, I have no children, I have no home, I have no job.” He added:

“If Natalia never entered our lives, I never get divorced.”

Bad Behavior

Michael went on to claim Natalia would exhibit poor behavior, especially toward his sons, insisting she would pee on one son and “defecate in the car and put her hand into it and try to smear it on” the boy. She’d also “throw herself” out of their car to reinforce the “poor helpless little girl status,” he believed. Concerningly, she’d also drop things the boys found “important,” like their toys, in front of cars to “[bait] my kids to run into traffic so they’d get run over.” Yikes.

Just after six months of the adoption, he said she was “doing as many things as possible to cause hurt or harm or mental distress to the entire family,” noting:

“I can’t put into words the abject horror we had to live with.”

Brother’s POV

Jake, one of Natalia’s adopted siblings, recalled what it was like to grow up with her, saying:

“I haven’t seen Natalia in like a decade. I find the situation incredibly confusing. I want to know what happened and the actual truth and everyone’s motives. But at the same time, I don’t want to remember that and I don’t want to have to revisit a lot of trauma from my childhood. It’s difficult for me to piece together what happened with adopting Natalia.”

While he was “excited” to have a sister at first, he was also confused when she didn’t know where she came from.

“I don’t recall her having any belongings from the orphanage, any Ukrainian toys, she didn’t seem to know much about Ukraine. At one point we asked her, ‘What’s it like in Ukraine’ and she’s like, ‘it’s always summer there.'”

He furthered:

“There was a set of things that didn’t add up. Natalia had no accent. She didn’t know the Cyrillic alphabet. She knew no Ukrainian. The dynamic between Natalia and the rest of the family began to shift pretty early, there was a lack of trust. Natalia did have behavioral issues, which certainly the adoption process, must be traumatic. Abandonment issues are a thing and Natalia was abandoned multiple times.”

He also said there “was certainly a lot of fear” in their house as they wondered, “What if Natalia actually harms one of us?”


Both Michael and Jake claimed Natalia would hide knives under her bed and would talk about having “intentions to attack us.” Michael said the girl told him she was “going to kill you in your sleep” when he asked about the knives. She also allegedly put Pledge in Kristine’s coffee and admitted she was “trying to kill” or poison his wife.

While the adoption agency was “unhelpful,” the parents’ therapist was very concerned when they heard the news, believing they were “in extreme danger” because Natalia was a sociopath. Jake said emotionally:

“That’s a very scary feeling. I definitely didn’t feel safe around Natalia. I just was scared. I certainly have that instinct now, I can’t share a drink with someone unless I’ve seen the surface of it the entire time. It’s probably rooted in this fear Natalia’s coming to poison us. Still working through it.”

Electric Fence

A large part of the second hour was focused on an incident in which Michael claimed Natalie got into a “physical” altercation with Kristine during a trip to a farm. He claimed he took the boys for a walk and heard “screaming” and saw what he believed was Natalia “trying to pull Kristine” toward an electric fence they were warned about. While Natalia was small, “she’s got guns like Schwarzenegger,” so he feared for his wife.

“The second I hear the sirens, I thought Kristine is dead. Natalia had been trying to pull Kristine into the electric fence, she’d been screaming out loud, ‘You f**king bitch, I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you, you bitch, you’re going to die.'”

He also claimed Natalie told police she was “trying to kill” her adoptive mother.


The man seemed to contradict himself later in the docuseries when he said he didn’t see anything because he and his sons were “in the forest” and too far away. He said he didn’t speak to officers and that Natalia was not at the scene when he got back. Huh…

A witness was also interviewed and shown a video of Michael’s previous interview. He said they didn’t recall “any of that being said” or “any threats” being made. A forensic interview of Natalia in 2019 was also shown in which she claims Kristine fell and was getting off the ground. Natalie suggested:

“I guess she thought I was trying to put her into the electric fence of whatever so she called the police on that.”

Let’s Talk About Sex

After the incident, Natalia was taken to a state hospital and moved to the adult ward when they saw her pubic hair. While there, Michael claims Natalia wrote in a journal her intent to kill the boys, allegedly writing:

“I am going to stab them with a knife while they sleep. I’m going to drag their bodies underneath the deck out back.”

He also claimed she “was propositioning the men” at the facility. An unnamed nurse said she “talked about sex” and was “very sexual,” even talking to male employees about “dating them” and “wanting to have a boyfriend.” She pointed out:

“The language that she was using with the males, I was shocked. There was a mention of her doing sexual favors for money.”

Birth Mother

Footage from a Ukrainian investigator who tried to track down Natalia’s birth mother in 2020 was also shown. The clip showed him talking to the woman’s twin sister who called Anna, the alleged birth mother, who didn’t want to be interviewed. She simply said “it is 17 years,” seemingly confirming Natalia’s original birth date of 2003 would have been accurate.

Similarly, Michael claimed a police detective once questioned the child’s age during a welfare check and told the family to “correct her age.” The detective has since died, but an email from him showed he wrote by all accounts Natalie “is a child.”

Living Alone

The third episode focused on Natalia’s time living alone — and it sounds like she creeped her neighbors out! When Natalia moved into an apartment of her own, her parents paid for the first three months, gave her furniture and some groceries, and then hardly visited. Sometimes, Kristine would be seen dropping off groceries on the sidewalk.

Her neighbors, Melanie and Toby Miles, who lived across the street, thought she was “just a little kid” at first, but changed their mind once they spoke to her. Andrew Rice thought the same thing and said Natalia told them she was 26. All three of them said she was often disheveled and “emitted” an “unpleasant body odor.”

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Another neighbor, Sue McCallum, said it came to feel “like a Hitchcock” movie and they’d all do their best to avoid Natalia, never knowing when or where she was going to turn up. She said:

“She was really a pest to everybody. Nobody liked her, nobody. They kind of felt sorry for her, but they were leery about her and really didn’t want her around.”

After receiving complaints, the building manager said “people were creeped out by her.” The manager also admitted she “may have been a child” due to some of her “child-like” behavior. Someone else thought it “was scary” and “you could just tell she was an adult person … she wasn’t a little 11-year-old girl they left there.”

Neighbors claimed she would show up at the doorsteps or even inside their homes uninvited, looking for food, and would discuss wanting to kill her family nonchalantly. McCallum noted:

“One day we got to talking and I said, ‘Why aren’t you living with your mom and dad?’ She goes, ‘Oh, they’re afraid of me … because I took a knife to them one night.’ She had this strange look in her eye like it’s a normal thing.”

Toby chimed in, saying she was “like a serial killer or something, how casually they put attempted murder into a conversation.” She also struck up “uncomfortable” relationships with neighborhood boys, Toby added:

“She would want to know when our son would be home. Not our daughter, our son. That’s when things went from uncomfortable to weird and almost borderline inappropriate. It just got to a point where we felt uncomfortable as parents.”

Sue’s grandson also felt “uncomfortable” and he was banned from letting her into the home. One neighbor, who was not named, claimed they witnessed Natalia with a young boy before she “started undoing his pants.” She claimed the father confronted her but the dad declined to comment. In a 2022 pre-trial interview, Natalia denied ever harming a neighbor’s child. She was not given the opportunity to renew her lease. McCallum reflected:

“They got her out. Everybody was so relieved. Everybody was really happy to see her go. I think she’s a little possessed. She presents herself like a nice person but she’s really evil and devious. People think she’s small, she’s deformed, she can’t possibly do all this stuff everyone’s saying. But they’re wrong and she did do it. It is scary Natalia could still be doing this. I don’t think she stopped, she’s always finding another person to manipulate.”

Toby added:

“I was there, I lived it, I lived through it. I still don’t have concrete answers. I don’t know how old she is.”


We might have MORE questions than we did before! What a chilling situation! Thoughts?! Sound OFF (below)!

[Image via Dr. Phil/Investigation Discovery/YouTube]

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Jun 01, 2023 13:40pm PDT