After five years on the lam, Janet Killough Barreto - suspected child abuser and murderer of her two-year-year-old adopted daughter Enna – was arrested at a Portland, Oregon, shopping mall on Tuesday along with her husband, Ramon Barreto, according to an Aug. 13 release from the U.S. Marshals Service. The couple had an infant with them when they were taken into custody. Barreto was the lone female fugitive on the U.S. Marshals 15 Most Wanted list, an honor bestowed upon her in June 2013 for her alleged crimes against children.
During their years on the run, the Barretos managed to successfully elude authorities by continually altering their appearances and using multiple aliases. A tip from a concerned citizen who said that the couple was traveling with a baby led to the takedown on Tuesday.
It’s alleged that the Barretos traveled back and forth to Guatemala several times in 2005 and 2006 and purchased several children from an adoption agency there, according to CNN. Reportedly, the Barretos paid between $615 and $25,000 per each child. Investigators say that the Barretos’ adopted children “were malnourished, physically abused, and forced to sleep on beds with plywood bottoms.” The U.S. Marshals Service said that the abuse inflicted upon the kids by the Barretos was extensive.
"The children were purportedly often punished with beatings and on various occasions duct-taped to their beds, punched in the stomach, and forced to endure having their heads submerged under water."
In 2008, the abuse allegedly led to the death one of their adopted children, a 2-year-old girl.
Janet Barreto was first taken into custody in May 2008 and accused of child abuse, child neglect, and the manslaughter of her two-year-old adopted daughter. Eventually released on bond, she was arrested again the following year on witness tampering charges, but was once again freed on bond. “Two months later, she never appeared in court to face the charges against her,” authorities said. And the hunt for Barreto began in earnest soon afterwards, aided by a $25,000 reward offered in 2013.
The tip leading to the Barretos’ arrest came Monday into the Marshals Service with the caller saying that the couple was in the general vicinity of Oregon or Washington. By Tuesday, agents had the couple cornered at the Jantzen Beach Center in Portland.
After being approached by authorities, the two proved uncooperative and refused to identify themselves. But agents were able to identify the husband at the scene after “his fingerprints were verified digitally.”
Janet Barreto was transported to a jail in the area after digital fingerprint analysis confirmed her identity. The baby that the Barretos had with them at the time of their arrests was placed into the care of child protective services. For more on the arrest of the Barretos, see the video accompanying this article.
"Janet Barreto is a malicious individual. Through her alleged crimes, Barreto demonstrated a blatant disregard and lack of respect for life other than her own," said U.S. Marshals Service Director Stacia Hylton.
"The crimes they are alleged to have committed are nothing short of horrendous and despicable," Union County, Mississippi, Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said, about Barreto and her husband. His department aided in the search because her alleged crimes took place in his jurisdiction.
"Now it is time to let justice be served."