June 23, 2021
Hello friends and persons interested in true crime stories. Thank you for visiting our site and learning more about the very rare, unique, and compelling Barton McNeil Wrongful Conviction Story. There will be many interesting items being posted here in the coming year as Barton works his way toward his long deserved freedom so please be sure to come back from time to time. Also be sure to check out the FreeBart Facebook page using this link or the one at the top of this website. FreeBart Facebook includes opportunities to engage with others following the case. Bart’s attorneys have filed a 65-page Petition requesting he receive a new trial. This occurred on February 23. The judge assigned the case, the Honorable Judge William Yoder, is to rule on the merits of the Petition so that it can be properly filed and subsequently acted upon by the related parties. At this time no set date is given for when this ruling may take place. Be sure to read the recently published David Vanguard “Court Watch” article that is the first long-form article regarding Bart’s case that includes many insights never before known to the general public about this incredibly moving case. The article can be found on the right hand side under “Latest News”. Also one of Bart’s long-time attorneys working on his case, John Hanlon, is set to retire June 30th of this month after a long and successful career.
With most wrongful conviction cases DNA is used to show that a person did not commit the crime. But then there is the lingering question as to “well then who did murder the victim?”. In this case from the very onset Barton McNeil knew exactly who murdered his 3 year old daughter Christina McNeil 22 years ago. It was none other than his ultra-violent ex-girlfriend Misook Nowlin. After the County Coroner took his daughter’s lifeless body away from his apartment, everyone thought she had died of a severe asthma attack on that hot muggy morning. Later in the day it was Bart himself who first noticed evidence that the bedroom window leading to the little girl’s bed had two holes cut on the bottom that would enable a person from the outside to remove the screen. The fan that was propped up in the window lay on the bedroom floor. The blinds in disarray. He noticed a scuff mark beneath the window sill, and trampled plants outside his front window as if someone had been outside trying to spy on him. He demanded the City of Bloomington police return, and to also bring with them a forensic team. He had to call the Bloomington Police Department four times before they finally sent one officer to see for himself what Bart saw. Soon after many officers converged on the scene. Within 24 hours Bart himself was arrested for the murder of his daughter.
Bart’s actions begs the question that if a father murdered his own daughter and the daughter was taken away under the presumption she died of natural causes, why on earth would the father himself be the person to demand police return to the scene of the crime and demand a more thorough investigation be done!
Why was Bart convicted? He was convicted BECAUSE OF A SPIDER! Returning police, after telling Bart to go to the police station to give his theory about why and how his ex-girlfriend Misook Nowlin murdered his daughter, saw using their flashlight a strand of spider web connecting the window sill to the damaged and cut screen itself. They speculated that the web had to have previously existed and therefore nobody could have entered the small apartment. With this simplistic unscientific attitude perpetrated by police and prosecutors, Barton was found guilty by default as nobody could have entered the window and per Bart who was in the living room, nobody entered his front door while he slept on his couch that rainy and stormy night. 22 years later, Barton is still in prison and has been protesting his steadfast innocence all the while.
Well the long awaited reversal of the wrongful conviction of Barton McNeil, so far having served 22 years of a 100-year sentence, is about to begin. Bart’s legal team consisting of 5 Attorneys who work for the Illinois Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project filed February 23, 2021, his formal Successive Motion for Post-Conviction Relief requesting his prior conviction be vacated so that he can be released or in the alternative, a new trial be ordered. Click here to read the Petition that is supported by four volumes of referenced information and police interviews as were made a part of the earlier Christina McNeil murder as well as the subsequent Linda Tyda murder for which Misook Nowlin was convicted and sentenced to 55-years in prison. The Motion is a compelling argument that there now exists more than enough evidence to show that Misook Nowlin herself is the likely killer. Where is Misook these days you may wonder and who is she? She has since the time of the murder been making a name for herself in numerous crime drama TV shows like Oxygen Network’s “Snapped”. Approximately 12 years after the smothering murder of the poor 3 year old daughter of Bart, she manually strangled her elderly mother-in-law, Mrs. Wenlan Linda Tyda of Chicago. Both murders taking place in Bloomington, Illinois, located within McLean County.
Bart’s true crime story is a story about police incompetence, prosecutorial misconduct with exculpatory evidence hidden from Bart and his ill-equipped and underfunded court appointed Public Defender. It will likely prove to be a vicious fight between Bart’s current attorneys working on behalf of two innocence projects and those who wish to maintain and protect those who wrongfully convicted him 22 years ago. After all, this is a system established that protects one another. Ever heard of the “thin blue line”? For the last 22 years Bart has had to endure the indignities of being treated as a convicted Maximum Security prisoner guilty of murdering his very own 3-year old daughter despite his innocence. The McLean County State’s Attorney originally tasked with prosecuting Bart, Charles Reynard, and his first Assistant State’s Attorney Teena Griffin, when prosecuting him even stated throughout their court filings, but yet had not need whatsoever to prove what a person’s motive was, that their “theory” as to why Bart would commit such an atrocious crime, was that he sexually molested his daughter using perhaps a digit of his finger despite there being no evidence whatsoever to support this false and despicable narrative. They hypothesized that as Christina was 3 and was just beginning to talk, they thought she might start talking how Dad was doing bad things to her. This insinuation without the need to support it with actual charges or evidence is nothing short than pure evil.
To those that knew Bart, he was as kind and loving a father to his daughter as anyone. Yet these are the kinds of heinous actions Prosecutors are able to do in order to tarnish and convict an innocent man or woman. And it is these kinds of malicious actions that forever alienated Bart from his family, friends and ex-wife for the next thirteen years and for some, still refuse to speak to him. It is no doubt terrible for a parent to lose a child by any means. Imagine then for a moment that you lose your child to a murderess ex-girlfriend, and you are the one blamed and successfully convicted to live the rest of your life in a maximum security prison along with 3,500 other convicted inmates, many of whom are violent and successful murderers themselves, in a prison built in 1878. And that just to add insult to injury, that there were newspaper reporting from where you lived and located throughout the written court record itself that you were believed to have sexually molested your daughter at some previous point in time. Never mind the fact Christina was in the custody of numerous other adults throughout all her lifetime including her mother Tita McNeil and daycare personnel along with numerous other adults. It just goes to show that Prosecutors have the power in which to play dirty!
Bart is an easy going person, very intelligent, and what has kept him going all these years is his supreme knowledge that he did not murder his daughter and that Misook Nowlin did. He will not rest until not only is he free and vindicated, but most importantly to Bart, that his ex-girlfriend Misook Nowlin be charged for the murder of his daughter Christina McNeil as she deserved her justice. As such, McLean County now finds itself in a real dilemma that will not be going away anytime soon due to the missteps and misdeeds of former employees of the County and City.
Please share this website and Bart’s story widely. This is the kind of case that brings a razor beam light to all that can go wrong with our criminal justice system that now houses over 2.3 million incarcerated persons. The wrongful conviction cases you have read in the news is just the tip of the iceberg. It could very well be that of these 2.3 million persons, there are tens of thousands whose convictions prosecutors got it wrong. That the words memorialized by all in our Pledge of Allegiance “with Liberty and Justice for All” do not ring true for Bart, nor does it for all others who also find themselves wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit. Every innocence project of which there are between 50 and 100 as of right now, usually receive about 300 requests for representation each year! That’s over 3,000 requests but only a fraction, less than 1%, can the innocence projects actually represent having no choice but to turn down all others regardless of their merit. All of these wrongful convictions is partially due to there being no accountability for Prosecutors and Detectives who make terrible mistakes as will be exposed to many during the litigation of this case. What kinds of mistakes? Leads not followed up on. Ending the investigation prematurely (like in Bart’s case) all for the sake that you think you can win a conviction based upon circumstantial or flawed forensic evidence. The hiding by prosecutors of exculpatory evidence that would otherwise benefit the defendant’s case (true in Bart’s case as well). The use of faulty forensic testing results (in Bart’s case as well). Amazingly in some cases innocent people have been brow beaten such that they falsely confess to a crime they didn’t even commit!
Plenty of these types of examples exists in Barton’s case as readers and the public will find out. Such as the fact Misook Nowlin, within 90 days of the Christina McNeil murder, beat her own daughter with a wooden dowel in the pelvic area causing deep bruises, covered her mouth, pinched her nose shut, and threated to murder her using the words that “she needed to behave or the same thing that happened to her sister would happen to her”. Although Michelle and Christina were not technically blood related sisters they treated each other as sisters being just several years apart. Does this statement and actions by Misook relative to her daughter seem relevant? Might be something Bart and his attorney should know about? One would think so. But this evidence and other evidence known by the lead detective investigating the Barton McNeil case, former Detective Larry Shepherd, who also investigated this incident between Misook and her 8 year-old daughter Michelle, as well as Prosecutors, was never disclosed to Bart or his attorney.
Prosecutors of McLean County in 1998/1999 got Bart’s conviction wrong. Bloomington Police Department detectives were sloppy in their investigation of Misook Nowlin. As a result, another elderly victim, Mrs. Linda Wenlan Tyda, fell to the ruthless hands of Misook Nowlin who will eventually be shown to be a real serial killer. The other victim is Barton McNeil. So instead of their being one victim in this case, namely Bart’s daughter, there are now two other victims. The prosecutors and detectives all have blood on their hands.
It is important to note that Barton was wrongfully pronounced “guilty” by not a jury of his peers, but by a lone judge (also known as a sole fact finder), and with Barton represented by a court assigned Public Defender overwhelmed by the State’s lopsided advantage in being able to prosecute, convict and condemn anyone they decide to target both in an investigation and subsequent trial.
Barton should be granted a hearing later this year so that all new evidence in his case can be brought to light for all of the public to see. We will be sure to spread the word for when this hearing will take place in 2021, so that all those that support Barton and know of his true innocence, can have a place to gather and show their support. With the second important goal to get justice for Barton’s 3 year old daughter Christina McNeil who paid the ultimate price at the hands of the diabolical Misook Nowlin.
Until this hearing happens, Barton greatly appreciates greatly all who write him e-mails, letters and those that have sent him some dollars prison account so he can purchase snacks to eat in his cell and share with his cellmate and others. We welcome and encourage any interested in sending Bart $5 or more that can then enable him to enjoy the small things in life that make us feel part of society, whether it’s having a bag of Doritos, a cup of Maxwell House coffee or even a new pair of socks, bar of shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, shoes or underwear. These are items Bart is allowed to purchase once a month. Hard to believe but the State issues prison inmates just one new pair of underwear per year! We also encourage everyone to reach out to Bart and drop him a line of encouragement. Reading and responding to mail is always a source of pleasure for Bart. There are some easy methods in which you can write and receive e-mails from Bart and he always answers all!
Thanks for everyone reading this message of hope.
October 8, 2018 – E-mail from Bart with new mailing address:
From Barton McNeil: “I previously told you about my inter-prison transfer within Menard prison from one cellhouse to another several weeks ago so that some plumbing repairs could be made, which was was pretty disconcerting itself. Having been in the same cellhouse for some time, it was sad to be separated from many good friends I’d made over the years, very few I would ever likely run into again. After 3 weeks at my new cellhouse location within Menard, and starting to get settled in and make new friends, I was suddenly unexpectedly transferred to another prison in Southern Illinois, my mailing address now:
Barton McNeil. #K-75924, P.O. Box 999, Pinckneyville, IL 62259
Once I’d served 20 years in prison with “only” 70 years remaining of my sentence, my security level was reduced from HIGH to MEDIUM, rendering me subject to a transfer to a lesser security prison on the whim of corrections officials. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t request, or want, a transfer from where all my friends were to a presumably less-restrictive prison. Like it or not, they’ll send you wherever they wish with no advance notice. Best regards, Bart”
Click the following link in order to read the rest of Barton’s interesting letter regarding what his new life at his new prison is like at Pinckneyville as compared to Menard
THE BARTON MCNEIL STORY BEGINS
Barton McNeil has always accused his girlfriend Misook Wang, with whom he had just broken up with, of smothering to death his 3 year old daughter Christina McNeil, in a despicable murder that took place June 16th, 1998. Despite Misook being a lead suspect, Barton was convicted instead in a Bench Trial with a court appointed attorney, and has now served 19 years in Menard Correctional Facility and 3 years at his current Pinckneyville Correctional Center. The former being one of the most ancient and decayed prisons in the United States built in the 1850s and used for captured Confederate prisoners-of-war. The prison is located hours away from any major city along the hot and humid meandering Mississippi river. Menard’s prison population is between 3,500 and 4,000 with 40% convicted murderers. Barton recently wrote “Being on lockdown for 3 weeks locked in the cell 24/7, not much has been happening with me lately. Prison wide lockdown was imposed (again) because a group of convicts were fighting amongst themselves from a higher aggression cell house while at the recreation yard. Pursuant to the ways of “collective punishment”, so far this year (January through September) we’ve been on lock down 130 days in all, for misbehavior involving no one in the cell house that I’m in. Today on the way to the chow hall, the sunshine I hadn’t been in in so long nearly blinded me. Can’t wait to get to the exercise yard soon.”
It is hard for anyone to imagine life like this for someone that is innocent, yet wrongful convictions happens all the time in our Nation of “Liberty and Justice for all”.
THE TURNING POINT IN BARTON’S PLIGHT
On September 15, 2011, Barton’s long-accused, former estranged girlfriend, Misook Nowlin-Wang, made news of her own, this time strangling her mother-in-law who had become between her and her husband Don Wang. Before telling you Barton’s story, here are some links to crime drama series shows about Misook’s chilling murder of her mother-in-law Wenlan Linda Tyda that demonstrate her capacity to have just as easily entered Barton’s daughter’s bedroom during the pre-dawn hours of June 16th, 1998, and murdered his daughter Christina while she lay in her bed asleep. Just as Misook’s mother-in-law victim Linda had come between her and her husband Don Wang, with Linda imploring her son to leave Misook for a variety of good reasons due to her increasingly violent behavior, Christina McNeil similarly had come between Barton and Misook with Barton ending his relationship with Misook also toward the end so that he could spend more time being a father to Christina. After all, Barton too saw the same alarming behavior as Misook had been convicted of assaulting Barton and his then two-year old daughter Christina the year before.
Make no mistake, Misook is a cunning killer. And it is very fortunate for everyone that she is now behind bars herself twelve years later. The irony of it all!
Misook was convicted of four 1st degree murder charges. (1) premediated murder (this is special folks, Bart wasn’t charged with this!); (2) the act of murder itself; (3) the murder of an elderly person, and (4) trying to hide and disposing of the victim’s body (very unique and especially nasty yet again). In count 4, Misook had undressed the body of her mother-in-law and placed her into a large Rubbermaid plastic tote bin, broke her neck in order to get her into the tote, taped it up, contacted a church going friend to help her hoist the heavy tote into the back of her SUV (in the police records the friend said she quipped to Misook “what do you have in here a body?” to which Misook said “no, glassware”, and if this wasn’t enough, buried her after midnight in an Illinois State forest preserve with her son Donovan, age 5, strapped to a car seat while Misook buried “grandma”. Oh yes and it’s worse as contained also within the police interviews was that on the way to bury Donovan’s grandma, Misook actually spent time in Chicago trying to locate the woman Misook thought was having an affair with her husband to kill her with a hammer, throwing the hammer out the car window finally on her way to the forest preserve, with Donovan asking “why is grandma in the box” to which Misook said to her 5-year old son “she’s hiding”. So dispicable, bizarre and premeditative and was the murder itself, both before and in the aftermath, that no less than 3 leading true-crime dramas did an episode on Misook. A fourth episode entitled “Behind Bars” is now currently in production for the Oxygen Network with Misook agreeing to be interviewed for it. We can all anticipate nothing more than excuses from her as she presents herself to the eventual audience. In short, her many calculated misstatements to detectives qualifies her to be designated a pathological liar.
Oxygen network channel series SNAPPED Misook Wang Episode Summary: While a community searches for a missing businesswoman, police uncover a shocking dispute with a money-hungry relative that they hope will lead them to a killer. Runtime: 43 minutes Release date: June 18, 2017
Discovery Network “Dying for Love“ Free you on YouTube.com! Episode summary: Misook longs for a mother figure in her life having grown up without one. When she meets Don Wang and they fall in love, she gets a husband and a mother in law she adores in Linda. But love turns to violence and it’s Linda who is caught in the middle. Runtime: 43 minutes Release date: December 29, 2013
Investigation Discovery Network “Broken Ties” is the third episode of Season 11 of Deadly Women. It premiered on Investigation Discovery on September 15, 2017. The episode profiles women who murdered relatives or in-laws. Misook Nowlin-Wang finds the mother figure she has always craved in her mother-in-law, Linda Tyda. Linda dotes on and mentors her daughter-in-law until Misook is arrested for shoplifting, after which Linda decides to cut Misook out of her life. In December 2011, Misook, fearing the end of her marriage and financial security, lures Linda into a trap and then bludgeons and strangles her. She is serving 55 years behind bars. Release date: October 24, 2019 Season 13, Episode 10
In October 2017, Scott Reeder, Executive Producer for the 2nd Top Rated Apple iTunes Podcast series “Suspect Convictions” aired a 14 episode (with episodes to be continued once his attorneys file their Motion) weekly series on Barton’s case beginning October 30th in conjunction with Bloomington, Illinois National Public Radio WGLT. To the right on this website is “Possible Items of Interest” and here you can find a link to this award winning podcast series. If you like true crime stories and have to commute to work, you won’t want to miss this series that is free.
On July 30th, 2017, news reporter Edith Brady Lunny formerly of the local Bloomington area newspaper The Pantagraph wrote about Barton’s case and a recent visit she had with him at Menard Correctional Facility. See link to this article Pantagraph Article 7-30-2017
If you are reading this and you are in the Media, credentialed news media interviews with Barton McNeil can be arranged through his family. Please use the Contact Us tab to send us an e-mail. It takes good lawyers and the media to put pressure on elected officials to do the right thing in order to gain one’s freedom. We understand the media has a valuable and important role in every wrongful conviction case.
The road to exoneration is long but the family of Barton McNeil and his team of very capable lawyers are committed to seeing him freed. Your spreading the word, writing Barton a letter, or placing a small stipend on his prison account using the Donate button found in the upper right hand corner of this website, so he can enjoy a commissary snack item or purchase some e-mail credits, or purchase other sundry items such as underwear, socks and shoes that prisoners must pay for themselves, is always much appreciated by him.
The best way for us all to stay connected as this case continue on where you can post comments, interact with Barton and his family, is through our FreeBart Facebook Page. When Barton will be released he will have nothing more than the shirt on his back. The State of Illinois is a bankrupt state and has no ability to pay wrongfully convicted inmates for time spent in their facilities while wrongfully convicted. Hence building up a prison or external financial account for Barton so that he can get an apartment and have the means to get a job once he is out is of paramount importance. As this day is coming. All monies donated go directly to Barton McNeil’s own personal legal control.
Together we shall prevail and thank you for joining this important cause that highlights the unfairness that can exist right here in our American Criminal Justice system that is badly in need of extensive reform.
With best regards, the Family of Barton McNeil
THE CHRISTINA MCNEIL MURDER
On June 15th, 1998, on a Monday night, a divorced father, Barton Monroe McNeil, also known as Bart, had custody of his daughter Christina for the night per child care arrangements with this ex-wife, Tita McNeil. Tita worked the third shift at the local hospital. Proud to be such a large part of raising three-year old Christina McNeil, Bart routinely had custody of his daughter, sometimes four or five days a week so that her mother could work.
Around 10:30 p.m. on this particular night, Bart put Christina to bed after her supper. Inexplicably, a few hours later, Bart found Christina awake in the bedroom smiling and talking. Not overly concerned with this unusual behavior, Bart told Christina she needed to get some sleep and tucked her back into bed.
Bart awoke between 7:00 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the next morning and followed his regular routine such as taking a shower. After calling to Christina through her bedroom door to get up and get dressed and receiving no response, Bart went into her room to check on her. Bart found his daughter lifeless in her bed with one of her eyes partly open. He immediately called 911 and attempted to perform CPR, but to no avail. Paramedics arrived soon after and confirmed the worst: three-year old Christina was dead. It was later indicated by the coroner that she had been smothered to death.
Initially, Bart had no idea what could have caused his daughter’s death. But as he observed the state of Christina’s room, Bart began to notice something wasn’t right. The window fan that had been in the first floor bedroom’s window had fallen to the floor. There were two holes cut in the window screen right above the latches, which were unlatched. Bart started to believe that someone had intentionally removed the screen to gain access to his daughter’s room.
One day after Christina’s death, the criminal investigation began to center around Barton McNeil. Bart was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with her death. As Bart awaited trial for the murder of his daughter, he and his attorneys began to piece together what had happened to Christina. The day before Christina’s death, Bart ended his increasing dysfunctional relationship with his girlfriend, Misook Nowlin. Christina was murdered less than twelve hours after Barton’s dramatic showdown with Misook in a public restaurant.
Among the items of evidence recovered from the scene were the window screen, a fingerprint located on the inside of the window frame, Christina’s stained bed sheet and pillowcase, and Christina’s stained clothing. Most of the spots on the sheet were never tested for DNA profiles, and the stains on the pillowcase, and Christina’s clothing, too were not tested. Nor was any DNA work done on the fingerprint or window screen.
At trial, Bart was precluded from presenting evidence regarding Misook’s involvement in this offense. In July of 1999, Barton McNeil was found guilty of first-degree murder of his three-year old daughter and sentenced to life in prison. He was convicted on circumstantial evidence alone. No physical evidence linked him to the crime.
As Bart worked to prove his innocence through appeals, Misook Nowlin was making her own news. In September 2011, Mistook Nowlin made headlines for the murder of her mother-in-law, Mrs. Linda Wenlan Tyda. Tyda’s murder occurred shortly after Misook’s new husband asked for a divorce, under eerily similar circumstances. In December of 2012, Misook Nowlin was convicted of strangling Tyda and sentenced to 55 years in prison.
The realization that Misook is in fact capable of murder under extremely similar circumstances, coupled with the incomplete forensic evidence presented at Bart’s original trial, has prompted the Illinois Innocence Project to review Bart’s case and assist him in his pursuit of proving his innocence. The Project seeks to have the above items of evidence tested via the latest DNA technology, including “Touch DNA” procedures. During the month of September, 2014, all evidence agreed upon by the McLean County Judge overseeing this case, Judge Scott D. Drazewski is to be sent to the leading DNA lab in the country, Orchid Cellmark located in Dallas Texas, for nuclear and touch DNA testing. Results will not be known until the end of the year. In 2015 it is anticipated Barton will have filed on his behalf a Post Conviction Appeal requesting a New Trial based upon New Evidence already known surrounding Barton’s case, that includes the long-term violently estranged former girlfriend Misook Nowlin, now convicted of murder herself, as well as New Potential Evidence yet-to-be-discovered as relating to DNA testing results.
Seldom in wrongful conviction cases is the true perpetrator known. In this case, it is clear to Barton and to his family that the murder was committed by Misook Nowlin that may possibly have included accomplices whether witting or unwitting. For most recent news updates on Barton’s case, please visit his Facebook page.
We invite you the reader, to learn more about this bizarre and continuing-to-unfold case with many of the below words penned by Barton McNeil himself as he awaits his freedom. Thank you from the Barton McNeil family in taking an interest in his case. As only through having a team of good lawyers, which Barton is fortunate to have in his representation by the Illinois Innocence Project that is part of the University of Illinois Law School, and publicity and individual advocacy and support you can become a part of, can a person wrongfully convicted gain their freedom.
Police murder investigators live by two mantras: No killing shall go unpunished and there is no such thing as coincidence. Police are to follow the evidence wherever it may lead them in the truth for justice. An arrest should be made only after an investigation has been completed. An investigation should never follow an arrest.
If wrongfully convicted Barton McNeil claimed from the very beginning, and in all his successive appeals, that his violent ex-girlfriend murdered his child, with a body of circumstantial evidence in which to back up his claim, and then thirteen years later, the accused murders again, for the same reasons (jealousy) and using the same modus operendi as was the first murder, is this mere coincidence? Or as the police mantra goes by seasoned murder investigators ‘There is no such thing as coincidence’.
We hope that for city of Bloomington, Illinois, where this story takes place, a city that experiences on average just one murder per year, that Barton’s 1998 case be re-opened. As a result of missteps made by city employees from the time period Barton was charged and convicted who are no longer there, two more lives have been lost. One murder, became three that now includes wrongfully convicted father Barton McNeil, now serving a 100 year “death by prison” sentence in a Maximum Security Prison for a crime he did not commit, and recent victim Linda Wenlan Tyda with whom the true murderess and female serial killer Misook Nowlin, was able to murder on account she remained free.
The following is the true tale of ongoing tragic justice that we would like to have thoroughly reviewed and reinvestigated by any combination of authorities in Bloomington, Illinois and the County of McLean, to include the Bloomington Police Department , The Illinois State Police, The McLean County Coroner’s Office, and the McLean County State’s Attorneys office. Similarly we would appreciate any involvement by the public, particularly in the Bloomington area, but also throughout the region and the country, even if that involvement were limited to the simple, but valuable act of sending an email or two, or making a deposit into Barton McNeil’s prison account so that he can afford a few luxuries at his Maximum Security commissary, such as toiletries or a snack, or attending future hearings in support of Barton McNeil alongside his family.
An innocent man has already spent sixteen years out of a sentence of one hundred years for a crime he did not commit. If you are reading this plea, you too can contribute, if only in a small way, to help correct the multiple grave injustices now suffered by so many.
CHAPTER I – A SUDDEN DEATH
One evening in June 1998, a divorced father, Barton Monroe McNeil, also known as Bart, then 38 years of age, had custody of his daughter for the night, as per child care arrangements between Barton and his ex-wife, Tita McNeil, who worked the third shift at the local hospital. Proud to be such a large part of raising a three year old of Christina McNeil, Barton routinely had custody of his daughter 4 or 5 nights (and days) per week, often for twelve or more hours straight.
At about 10:30 PM on the night of June 15th 1998 Barton laid Christina down to sleep for the night in the lone bedroom in his ground floor apartment. Strangely, Barton found Christina mysteriously awakened in the bedroom a few hours later after midnight calling out the name of his girlfriend’s daughter “Mee-Shell”. He then laid Christina back down to sleep unaware of any possible threat lurking nearby.
Needing to get up early to get Christina dressed and ready for her childcare school, since Barton himself had to go to work in the morning, Barton awoke from the living room sofa at 7:30 AM, where he routinely slept when Christina spent the night at his home. After showering and checking his emails, as was his usual routine, he then went to wake the sleeping princess that was his dear child.
Upon entering the room after calling out to Christina several times to no response, Barton nearly tripped on the window fan lying on the floor beneath the open window, apparently having fallen out of the window during the course of the night, as the disturbed venetian blinds also seemed to suggest. At that same moment Barton saw the gray face of his obviously lifeless child, eyes wide open “staring “straight at the open ground floor window behind the blinds. Barton dashed to the phone to dial 911 and came back to attempt CPR, but it seemed to him that his otherwise healthy and happy child had been dead for some time.
The following is Barton’s original 9-1-1 phone call to police: Bart McNeil 911 call and transcript of this call 911 Calls – Initial Call 06-16-1998 (See also Possible Items of Interest on the right hand side of this website where this information can also be found).
Stricken with grief, Barton was unable to think clearly as he struggled for an answer as to how his daughter could have so suddenly died without any obvious cause or precursors, in concert with the sudden emptiness of his life that only his child had given any innocent meaning to. Inside, Barton was just as dead as was Christina, as he faced a hopelessly sad future never again to be graced by the presence of his child—a daughter too special for any other to fill the seemingly eternal emptiness of his heart.
Having held Christina’s lifeless body in his arms, in addition to his fruitless CPR attempt, Barton observed no evidence that could give him a clue as to the cause of her death.
During their presence on the scene, paramedics, coroner’s assistants, nor police authorities gave any hint as to what might have caused Christina’s sudden seemingly mysterious death. Struggling for answers, Barton presumed that Christina had died from “natural causes”, perhaps the result of some sudden illness, maybe relating to her otherwise non-life-threatening asthmatic condition. At first Barton never entertained the possibility that his child’s death might have been from an unnatural cause.
As the day wore on, Barton tried to recount all of the noteworthy events of the last 24 hours in his search for some accounting of the suddenness of Christina’s death. Unable to justify key relevant circumstances in some coherent manner that otherwise would have taken minutes, Barton’s thoughts kept returning to the window fan found on the floor beneath the window. It had been securely braced in the window the night before, where it had been since the day he moved into the apartment after moving out on his own two months earlier, away from his increasingly erratic girlfriend. Also nagging on Barton’s thoughts was fact of his now estranged girlfriend’s presence at the scene of Christina’s death who unexpectantly showed up just moments after paramedics arrived. Indeed, Barton’s dysfunctional increasingly estranged relationship with Korean born Misook Nowlin (later to be known as Misook Wang) had come to a dramatic climactic showdown ending in a bitter breakup just the day before, not even minutes before Barton left Misook to pick up Christina for the night. At the latest, Christina died no later than 12 hours after Barton’s breakup with Misook, and may have even died as little as five hours afterwards.
The grief of Christina’s death did not completely replace in Bart’s thoughts his dramatic public breakup with Misook at a local restaurant the evening before, but Barton’s grief did not allow him to concretely connect these two events together. With utmost despair and reluctance Barton began to consider the unavoidable possibility that his bitter breakup with Misook might the night before have been related to his child’s death some hours later.
In the meantime Barton needed to return to his apartment to pick up his clothes for his intended stay at the home of his ex-wife, Tita, Christina’s mother. Not wanting to spend any time at the scene of his daughter’s death, ever. Upon his arrival at the apartment, Bart walked down the narrow secluded pathway abutting the building which connected the back parking lot to the apartment’s entrance, a pathway he had walked to and from twice the day before as is normal for whenever going to and from his apartment to his car.
As he passed by his daughter’s still open ground floor bedroom window, Barton discovered two slit holes cut into the window screen immediately above the latch releases, holes that were not previously in the screen, with the screen itself now unlatched and off its track, precariously resting in the window frame along with a host of other tampering conditions that were not present the night before. Much to Barton’s horror, he now realized the bedroom window fan had not merely fallen out of its window mount; someone had removed it, obviously to get access to his daughter. Barton now confronted the inescapable conclusion that Christina had been murdered by a cunningly silent intruder. It didn’t take much for Barton to deduce who this vengeance fueled intruder must have been.
CHAPTER II – THE PANICKED REVELATION
Barton then ran to the phone and made a series of frantic 911 recalls requesting the presence of detectives back to the scene of Christina’s death. Upon the arrival of a detective, Barton explained his now certainty that Christina’s death had been a murder, by someone who had gained access to Christina and the open (and obviously severely tampered with) bedroom window. Barton called for the immediate arrest of his estranged girlfriend, Misook.
Click here to listen to a series of 9-1-1 phone calls made to the Bloomington Police demanding Detectives return as it is Barton alone who first believes his daughter’s death to have been a murder committed by Misook Nowlin: Bart calls PD later and Bart calls PD later pt. 2 The following are typed transcripts of these same calls 911 Calls – Additional Part 1 of 2 and 911 Calls – Additional Part 2 of 2. (See also Possible Items of Interest on the right hand side of this website where this information can be accessed).
CHAPTER III – IMPENDING ARREST
A few hours later at the Bloomington Police station, Barton recounted to the detectives all that occurred during the course of the previous 24 hours, much of which directly involved his estranged girlfriend, Misook.
Incredibly, two of the detectives present at the interview that had also been at the scene earlier that morning on the heels of the paramedic’s arrival, claimed that they had not examined the open bedroom window in broad daylight only two feet from where Christina lay dead. Barton found this claim by the detectives to be astonishing, and frankly, unbelievable. In point of fact, Bart witnessed detectives just that morning inspecting the bedroom window closely, and that the designated Crime Scene detective himself had even photographed the window screen himself but with his camera lens out of focus. Of particular note Barton witnessed also the Assistant Deputy Coroner, John Nafziger, who had taken extensive video tape both inside the victim’s bedroom and outside her window as Barton was on his porch when he saw him do this that he thought curious at the time. This video tape still looms large in his case to this day as it is identified as Exhibit #4 and was inexplicably lost by both the McLean County Coroner’s Office and the Bloomington Police despite repeated Freedom of Information Requests to obtain it. On the evidence log it shows that it was transferred from the County Coroner’s office to the Bloomington Police Department but the trail then goes cold. On it would have been likely hundreds of still image frames that would have contained exculpatory evidence since the video would have shown the true condition of the window both from inside and outside. The withholding of evidence from the defense that contains exculpatory evidence is known in legal circles as a Brady Violation that was a famous Supreme Court case that requires prosecutors to hand over all evidence to the defense, both prosecutorial and exculpatory related.
The following are actual crime scene images that show the condition of the window the morning of the murder as you can see the date the photograph was taken to the right. Note that the concrete to the rear of the apartment is still wet as there had been a severe thunderstorm and downpour that hot muggy night as Bart lay on his couch with an oscillating fan on his couch table.
Most, if not all, of Detective and Prosecutor’s belief in Barton’s guilt was due to their witnessing old cobwebs in the corners of the screen in which Barton claimed Misook Nowlin must have entered the bedroom in order to murder his daughter Christina. Detectives even went so far as to testify under oath during Barton’s trial that the sill of the window had dust, and that the window screen itself was “secure” and in its rightful track position. Yet photographs show clearly that the lock was not in its correct position, that the screen was not in its rightful track, and as evidence, even the Bloomington Detectives, upon returning the evening Barton requested their return, removed the entire screen window assembly as evidence. See attached video showing the Detectives removing the screen with the person removing the screen the lead Crime Scene Detective, Detective Thomas Sanders. Here he clearly exclaims as the screen is removed that the screen falls out on it’s own, when the screen is just slightly tilted, due to gravity alone. And in this action taking with it any cobweb evidence. Click the download to see this video Removal of Screen Video
During Barton’s August 1st, 2014 Hearing, one of the United State’s foremost expert on the study of spiders, Dr. Todd A. Blackledge, Professor & Endowed Chair of the Department of Biology, Integrated Bioscience Program at the University of Akron located in Akron, Ohio, reviewed the spiderweb evidence consisting of still photographs and the attached video, and stated that spiders our of habit quickly repair webs after they have been damaged and that whether a cobweb is old is of not matter to a spider that has made it, meaning that they will repair either, as a spider web remains sticky indefinitely and able to capture insects. He essentially refuted the biased beliefs of the officers about what the cobweb evidence meant in Barton’s case.
From the time Christina was found murdered that was 7:40 a.m., until the time Barton had Police Detectives return to his apartment later that same day, that was 7:00 p.m. just as the sun was setting, approximately 12 hours had elapsed. When taking into account the likely time of death, we believe to have occurred around 1 a.m., this add another six hours. The Police did not enter Barton’s apartment until after sunset and this is when they first were able to inspect the corners of the window pointing out spider webs. So from 1 a.m. the previous night when the murder took place, until 9:00 p.m. the following evening, almost twenty hours had elapsed. With the removal of a screen, the spider’s web, its sole means of catching prey and a meal, had been damaged. And therefore was in need of repair. Imagine how much fixing of a harmed web could be done in the span of twenty hours.
CRIME SCENE IMAGES AND DRAWINGS OF THE CRIME SCENE
The following is a YouTube video showing how quickly the average spider can spin new material in order to mix new strands in with older cobweb strands in order to make repairs to its web: Spider Builds a Web
Following Barton’s several 9-1-1 phone calls demanding detectives return to his home as he now has good reason to believe Misook murdered his daughter, the responding detectives request Barton go to the Bloomington Police Department to be interviewed by other detectives while they inspect Barton’s apartment for signs of intrusion as Bart had shown them.
During the course of Barton’s two hour interview on the evening of 16 June at the Bloomington Police Station, Barton discussed in some detail countless events and circumstances related to his increasingly bitter relationship with Misook, all of which was easily verifiable and could be corroborated for the investigating police with minimal effort—, all of which were consistent with Barton’s near certainty that Misook had killed his child. Indeed, Barton’s final bitter breakup with Misook, related in large part to Misook’s obsessive “competition” with Christina over Bart’s attention, and for this very same reason, his fear for Christina’s safety in the presence of the increasingly unstable Misook.
Similarly, Misook was enraged by the control that Bart’s ex-wife, Tita, Misook’s longtime arch nemesis, seemed to exert over Barton’s through Tita’s hold on him via Christina. Further details are beyond the scope of this summary, suffice to say that, given Barton’s own personal involvement in the bitter relationship related events in the months, weeks, days, and hours leading up to Christina’s death, along with Barton’s first hand observation of Misook’s increasingly thinly veiled psychopathological demeanor, only Misook alone could have been responsible for his daughter’s death on the immediate heels of his final showdown with his stalking crazed girlfriend.
Having filled in the detectives in all of this crucial information, Barton was certain that Misook would be arrested within hours.
The following is Barton’s Significant Events Timeline in the weeks leading up to, the night of the murder, and immediately following the murder Barton shared with Detectives
In the meantime, Barton returned to Tita’s home to spend the night and grieve together. Despite all he had discovered in the past few hours about Christina’s now obvious murder, beginning with the ground floor bedroom window intruder evidence, Barton could not bear to tell Tita that their dear child had been murdered by Misook, no less. Barton was certain if Tita were to learn this, that Tita would try to confront Misook personally over what she had done, perhaps costing Tita her life at the hands of Misook also. More than that, Barton lacked the courage to face up to his share of the blame he rightfully deserved. After all, Barton had left Tita (and Christina) for Misook who was also married at the time, when Christina was just an infant, three years earlier. Accordingly, Barton had invited into the lives of his family the very instrument of Christina’s later murder, Misook. For obvious reasons, Tita hated Misook. Had Barton shared with Tita his certainty that Misook had killed Christina, which in fact Tita herself had intuitively sensed (and suggested to Barton) prior to Barton himself considering the possibility, Tita would certainly have scorned and blamed Barton himself for Christina’s death, and with good cause, for had he been a loyal husband and father, Christina would still be alive. Crushed by feelings of despair, grief, and even guilt at ever having invited the venomous Misook into their lives, Barton could not bear the added weight of Tita’s demand for his own accountability for the presence in their lives, the eventual instrument of Christina’s death.
To this day, Tita probably wonders why if Barton came to discover Misook’s responsibility for Christina’s death, he did not tell this to Tita, but instead she heard Barton’s claims from the police. Surely she must have found this suspicious of him. But the fact is, lacking the courage and strength to face up to Tita’s certain condemnation of him, Barton preferred Tita to hear about Misook’s responsibility for Christina’s death from the police on the heels of Misook’s arrest, which Barton expected hours from then.
The next day Barton returned to the Bloomington Police Department promptly at 10 a.m. as requested from the officers the night before to provide more information about Misook, as surely he would be the lead witness for the prosecution at her murder trial. Instead Barton was whisked into a camera-equipped interrogation room, where the detectives were not as friendly as the day before. Much to Barton’s dismay, Misook had not even been arrested. Incredibly, no meaningful investigation at all had yet begun, other than interviewing Misook briefly, least of all concerning all of the information he had shared with the police that night about Misook.
Barton was beginning to sense the worst as it appeared the police were not in pursuit of his child’s killer after all. Instead, they seemed to be after Barton himself. Witnessing the implosion of the would-be investigation of his child’s death, and all of its unjust implications, Barton agreed to be interrogated by his ill-equiped-and-seemingly-naive interrogators on the condition that his precise words be recorded on the video/audio tapes from the ceiling-mounted camera in the interrogation room. (Police and prosecutors have since refused to disclose the existence of this interrogation). Fending off vile untrue accusations leveled against Barton by his interrogators Barton vehemently maintained his innocence throughout the seven hour interrogation, while countering his interrogators with a litany of events and circumstances far more consistent with Misook’s responsibility for the murder, most of which were either documented, verified, or could be corroborated with minimal investigative effort.
Click on the two following links to listen to Part I of Barton McNeil’s only recorded interview with Police. It was the 10 a.m. morning interview with Detective Marvin Arnold. The reader should keep in mind that Bloominton, Illinois, only had a murder every two years on average. Hence most all detectives were not seasoned murder detectives by any stretch of the imagination.
Barton McNeil Police Interview with Detective Marvin Arnold Part I
Barton McNeil Police Interview with Detective Marin Arnold Part II
Click here to read Barton’s Transcript of Detective Marvin Arnold Interview
Now juxtipose Misook’s own interrogative interview with Detective Brown. Notice how many times the detective asks Misook a question, and then before she can answer, he interrupts her. In effect, putting words in her mouth. Any crime sleuth’s out there know about the importance of “body language!?”. It appears Detective Burns could have benefited from this class. Check out some body language stills that were lifted from the Misook Nowlin police interview. These pictures what she looked like throughout the interview with the detective.
Misook Nowlin Interview with Detective Michael Burns Part I
Misook Nowlin Police Interview with Detective Michael Burns Part II
Misook Nowlin Police Interview with Detective Michael Burns Part III
It was all for naught, for unbeknownst to Barton, he was already on a high speed railroad train straight to the big house. As the interrogation wore on and Barton was arrested, worse even than his own bleak fate, his child’s killer had gotten clean away at her innocent father’s own expense. Worse still, Barton slowly came to realize that, as per Misook’s designs, Christine’s murder was intended to result in Barton’s wrongful arrest and imprisonment, and that in all certainty Misook had been planning this out and setting the stage weeks before what Barton thought was his final bitter breakup with Misook the night of the murder.
CHAPTER IV – A CAST OF CHARACTERS; Barton, former wife Tita, daughter Christina and others
Barton makes no claim to being a saint. On the contrary he readily admits to his failings and character flaws. Though intelligent, Barton lacked anything along the lines of ambition. More interested in paling around with his buddies and partying, the future only consisted of next week’s nightclub events. Barton quit high school and later earned his GED by his mid twenties he was in college, earning average grades, while still working a full time job (often two jobs). But just short of earning a degree, Barton dropped out of college also, as his marriage to Tita neared.
Unlike many of his friends, Barton managed to stay single and childless up until his thirties. Eventually he began to seriously consider the merits of getting married, but he thought the opportunities few at this late date.
Barton was hardworking and always employed, but mostly at low paying food service jobs, another consequence of his lack of ambition and misplaced priorities. But he lived a debt free lifestyle until he eventually bought a home.
In the meantime, through a mutual friend, Barton had been regularly exchanging letters with Tita; a native of the Philippines, who at the time was employed as a midwife at a hospital in Saudi Arabia. Eventually Barton was to meet Tita and her family in the Philippines, and marry her. Tita had little experience in romantic relationships, and was a woman of the highest moral character. Through no fault of Tita’s, the marriage was not ideal, but by the same token was not particularly rocky either.
Barton’s worst character fault was his infidelity, a fault that would have ended lesser marriages sooner, were the saintly Tita not so determined to make her marriage work. In a manner of speaking, Barton’s domestic failures would lead to the death of the child that Tita bore him. Aside from dear Christina, Tita had been the victim of this multi-faceted tragedy of which she was wholly innocent. By mid 1994 Tita was pregnant with their first child, Christina, who was born in January 1995. By this time, Barton had long been involved with Misook Nowlin, herself married to Andy Nowlin. Misook also had a daughter, Michelle, born in 1990. The demise of the McNeil marriage and family centered on Misook alone yet Barton could not shirk responsibility for his actions that would eventually lead to so many tragic miseries.
Barton left Tita soon after Christina was born and was at first unenthusiastic about his new responsibilities as a father. Yet he never passed any opportunity to visit with his daughter during his limited court restricted visits and soon found himself immersed in the notion of fatherhood, to the extent his divorce would allow. Presumed to be hopelessly undomesticated, Barton found the foreign concept of parenting to be oddly appealing. Moreover, too little too late, Barton began to recognize in Tita her true beauty as the mother if his child, and he could rest easy knowing that his daughter would never suffer for lack of care and love at the hands of her mother.
CHAPTER V – DYSFUNCTION JUNCTION – MISOOK NOWLIN… COUNTDOWN TO MURDER
In the meantime, Bart’s live-in relations with his girlfriend, Misook, began to show serious cracks early on. While Misook had little parenting skill or enthusiasm, Barton’s custody of Christina and involvement in her life with her increased as Tita took a third shift job at the hospital. Rather than hiring an overnight babysitter, Barton insisted that he care for Christina whenever Tita worked, or whenever else they needed such.
In contrast, Misook had only sporadic weekend custody of Michelle, who Misook’s ex-husband, Andy Nowlin, seemed to have full custody of. Nonetheless Michelle, Misook’s daughter, and Christina, six years younger, became close and genuinely seemed to love each other as “sisters”. While Misook seemed not to want the children to be around ever and had poor parenting skills, Barton enjoyed this mixed family togetherness when Michelle, Christina, Misook, and Barton spent quality time together. Ironically, it was now Misook who only wanted to party, a life style Barton had introduced to her, while Barton became a doting father and something of a family man. He even began seeking out more meaningful employment.
Though separated from Andy in 1995, Misook remained married to him until 1998 the year of Christina’s murder. Barton observed that Misook and Andy maintained a peculiar and close relationship quite separate from their marriage, grounded in some dark secrets they shared from the past, or so Barton later discovered. Similarly, their relations with Michelle were most unusual, Barton thought, with no division of authority between parent and child, and no parental guidance whatsoever. Though Michelle sometimes resented it, as Barton her acting step father, Barton alone exercised any meaningful parental guidance over Michelle. More than once, the domestic strike between Barton and Misook, centered upon their intensely conflicting parenting practices. Nonetheless, Barton failed to detect any sign that the Nowlins might have presented a mortal danger to he and/or his daughter.
Throughout 1996-1997 Barton grew closer to Christina as his custody of her increased, while his relations with Misook became increasingly rocky. This was compounded by Misook’s continuing peculiar relations with Andy, as well as Misook’s step (or half) sisters, Yuman Aldridge and Susie Kaiser, who also seemed to share with Misook the seemingly dark secrets that her peculiar relations with Andy sealed. This entire group would be questioned by the police about Christina’s later murder.
During the course of Barton’s three year live-in relations with Misook,. The police were called to their apartment three times as a result of Misook’s violent rages, twice while Christina was in her father’s custody. No arrests ensued. Numerous other violent incidents arose, though not resulting in any police involvement. In one instance that Barton witnessed, Misook became violent with her own daughter, Michelle, but he suspected there were other incidences when he was not around. Finally, at Barton’s insistence, Misook began attending domestic violence counseling at the hands of psychologists/social workers at the McLean County Center for Human Resources, but later were proven to have been of no avail.
In nearly every instance, Barton maintained, this intense domestic strife centered around Misook’s jealousy and hatred of Tita on account of the pull Tita had over Barton through Christina, that Misook viewed as a manipulative imposition on Misook’s domestic affairs. This all came to a head one day when Tita, financially strapped and in need of some extra working hours, asked Barton to watch Christina for the night. Resenting the financial aid he paid to Tita through child support payments, Misook was further enraged by Barton’s eagerness to have custody of his daughter on short notice when it was not otherwise a part of his scheduled child care routine.
During the course of Misook’s violent episode, Barton attempted to flee the apartment with Christina in his arms. Blocked from leaving by Misook’s hysterical self, and not wishing for an escalation in violence. Particularly not in Christina’s now crying presence, though feeling for the safety of he and his daughter in the heat of this drama, Barton phoned the police.
Click MISOOK BARTON MCNEIL DOMESTIC BATTERY CASE DOCUMENT to see the court file of this case with the police report describing the incident. Misook became argumentative with responding officers and admitted to having assaulted Bart and his 2-year old daughter Christina and therefore was arrested, charged by the State, found Guilty, and for whom Bart was requested to attend her sentencing hearing, for which prison time was anticipated, the DAY AFTER CHRISTINA WAS MURDERED. She was also required by the State to attend Domestic Violence/Anger Managment counseling attending classes in the AVERT program. This prior assault committed upon Bart and his daughter Christina the year before her death, was prevented through the State’s Motion of Limine to be presented to either a jury or judge in this case as unadmissable evidence. The mere mention of Misook’s name was similarly barred along with a host of other Misook related evidence. Conveniently, with Christina’s death, Misook’s Sentencing Hearing was postponed. She later was given probation and was ordered to perform community service work at the local Salvation Army.
Because of prior violent domestic events like this one Barton had twice briefly moved out on Misook. Upon Misook’s pleading and promises to change her violent and obsessive ways, Barton would soon return to Misook, far under-realizing the danger Misook posed to him and his daughter.
Rather than pleading guilty to this minor domestic violence charge, Misook opted for a bench trial in which Barton would have to testify for prosecutor, Assistant State’s Attorney, Stephanie Wong, who had also sent to Barton, Order of Protection forms for him to get a restraining order against Misook. One year later Stephanie Wong would be teaming with then First Assistant State’s Attorney Teena Griffin in the Prosecution of Barton McNeil with Misook the Alternative Lead Suspect. Foolishly Barton instead remained Misook’s live-in boyfriend in the months to follow. Misook was convicted of this domestic violence offense in February 1998, and after several postponements, was scheduled to be sentenced on June 17th, precisely and ironically the same day Barton was arrested for the murder of his daughter. Co-Prosecutor Wong also encouraged Barton to attend the sentencing hearing to give victim impact testimony but for the time being, Barton did not want to add fuel to Misook’s increasing self inflicted misfortune. In addition to the domestic violence psychiatric counseling above, on the advice of McLean County prosecutors and at Bart’s insistence, Misook began attending further domestic violence counseling at the A.V.E.R.T. program run by the State’s Attorney’s Office. This too was to no avail as later events, including one involving her own daughter Michelle, unfolded.
Instead Misook became increasingly obsessive and demanding while her violent tendencies became more frequent. Finally, Barton moved out for the last time, and into a small apartment of his own. Misook’s need to maintain her hold over Barton only increased as she tried to maintain this relationship at all costs. Under Misook’s threats of suicide, Barton continued to see Misook on and off. By this time Misook was frequently missing work, so enraged was she at Barton and her rapidly deteriorating relationship. Filling this void was the increased presence of recently divorced ex-husband Andy. Similarly, when Misook could not compel Barton into spending the nights with her, one or the other or sometimes both of Misook’s step (half) sisters, Yuman and Susi, routinely spent the night at Misook’s home, while cheerleading Misook and fueling her passions in Misook’s struggles with Barton, and with her obsessive need to do battle with her arch nemesis, Tita, who Misook viewed as Misook’s Christina-wielding tormentor. Though with good reason, Tita loathed Misook also, but Barton had kept Tita in the dark about the violent dysfunction of his relations with Misook, out of Barton’s selfish fear that Tita might end his custody of Christina were Tita to fear for Christina’s safety in Misook’s presence… a fear that Barton felt was unwarranted since he believed he could “handle” Misook himself. On this count too, Barton today carries a heavy burden . Tita was largely unaware of Misook’s vengeance fueled hatred of her and insane jealousy of Tita and Christina alike.
For his part, Barton’s investment in his relationship with Misook had been enormous, though mostly his own fault, costing him his marriage, wife, and child. Accordingly, he did all he could, short of completely discarding Christina, to make his relations with Misook work out. Long after it should have been obvious to him that the relationship was doomed, Barton had had enough. Tragically he never came to fully recognize the mortal danger he and Christina faced, despite all the growing evidence in retrospect.
Through a chain of events in early June 1998, Barton realized that Misook was outright stalking him. Worse, Barton discovered that she had implanted in her daughter, Michelle, a recent intense hatred and jealousy of Christina also. Too little too late Barton realized that this mother and daughter duo did in fact pose a danger to Christina’s safety, and Barton vowed never to allow Christina to be in their presence again. Slightly less apparent was that Misook’s tight circle of above associates, were 100% in league with Misook’s crazed obsessions, and in fact, encouraged them.
In the meantime, Barton had long been seeking a managerial job at a local restaurant chain rather than at a distant one in order to maintain his parenting role with Christina. Yet he agreed to accept a job at a Peoria area restaurant to put some significant physical distance between him and the ever-stalking Misook. Barton would try to encourage Tita into moving to the Peoria area also, to maintain her much needed parenting help and childcare services he was privileged to provide, and to reduce any threat to Tita and Christina Misook might happen to pose, that Barton was increasingly concerned with.
Barton had long ago regretted becoming involved with Misook, and further regretted leaving his wife. Though not quite completely severed from Misook living separately, Barton had a freer hand at spending time not only with Christina but also with Tita. Throughout the last several weeks, the three of them were spending time together almost as the family once could had been. Finally the role of father and husband appealed to Barton as he recognized the beauty of Tita’s love and care for their precious child. For her part, Tita was surely aware that Barton was gravitating back to Tita, which for Misook would likely become the ultimate humiliation.
Finally on June 15th Misook made repeated demands that she come over to Bart’s apartment, where Christina would soon be spending the night, as Misook well knew. Throughout the day, Misook had made repeated attempts to find out Christina’s whereabouts at present and where she would be later on. Barton flatly refused Misook’s demands to come to his apartment, specifically because before too long Barton was to pick up Christina for the night at Tita’s home, and he refused to risk exposing his daughter to any of Misook’s violent theatrics, nor to allow Christina to be in her presence anymore at all. Moreover, even in Christina’s absence Barton did not want Misook present at his home, as inevitably her presence would turn to intense strife and drama that only ended when Barton threatened to phone the police, were she not to leave the premises.
Instead, Barton reluctantly agreed to meet Misook for dinner at a local restaurant, though only without Christina. While at dinner, Barton and Misook argued intensely creating a scene witnessed by many. Misook confronted Barton with what she had recently learned through the “grapevine” about his job acceptance and pending move to Peoria, which Barton had kept from Misook for obvious reasons. She had also learned, through her employer Anderson Financial, despite it being illegal to use her employer to gain phone records relating to her boyfriend, that Barton showed interest in meeting and making relations with some women friends, over the phone and online. Probably not so ironically one of Misook’s best friends, Susi Kaiser, who also worked at Anderson Financial alongside Misook, was ultimately fired for the same reason. Namely using her access to phone records to look up her boyfriend’s phone related activities. Misook however was never punished and Bloomington Police not caring to follow up on this obvious crime.
For his part, Bart confronted Misook with her obsessive stalking, to include her parking in front of Tita’s home for long stretches trying to catch Barton’s coming or going; Misook’s collection of garbage from the curb to sift through in search of what Barton had been up to; Misook’s stalking of his personal phone records she obtained through her employer Anderson Financial (that did billing for AT&T), and worst of all, Tita’s revelation that Misook had attempted to “confide” in Tita a “friendly warning” several days prior to the effect that Barton posed a threat to Christina of the utmost vile nature, with the plan to drive a wedge between Christina and Barton by the safety concerns that Misook had suggested to Tita in her intended secret get together. This untrue accusation was only learned by Barton when Tita repeated Misook’s devilish warning to Barton against Misook’s wishes.
For Barton, that was the final straw. Barton unequivocally ended the relationship then and there, vowing to testify at Misook’s domestic violence sentencing hearing the next day—his victim impact testimony. On that note of extreme hostility and estrangement, so ended Barton’s three-year relationship with Misook.
For his sins against Misook, Christina would not live to see tomorrow. As per Misook’s long planned designs, Misook would get clean away and Barton would be arrested (and soon convicted) for his own daughter’s murder.
Still oblivious to the mortal dangers he and Christina faced, Barton then proceeded to Tita’s home to pick up Christina for the night. Tita reported to Barton that over the course of the last few hours, Misook had phoned Tita several times to find out if he had yet picked up Christina. After stopping at McDonalds to pick up a Happy Meal, Christina’s last meal, father and daughter returned to Barton’s apartment for the night, arriving about 8:30 PM on this Monday night. Christina’s death loomed ever nearer.
Under a false pretext, Misook phoned Bart’s cell phone to subtly inquire as to what Christina was doing and where in Barton’s apartment Christina was sleeping about 10:40 PM. Curtly answering Misook’s odd questions, Barton informed Misook that she should no longer phone him, ever.
Despite this, and under yet another false pretext, Misook phoned Barton’s apartment the next morning less than a minute after the first responders who arrived at the scene on the heels of Barton’s discovery of his lifeless daughter. Because of the above events that Barton himself was a party to, along with a host of related circumstances beyond what is included on these pages, once Barton discovered the presence of evidence of a silent intruder into the ground floor bedroom window, he never doubted that behind his child’s murder lurked his estranged girlfriend, Misook Nowlin.
Misook Nowlin Wang was interviewed by the Bloomington Police Department on June 17, 1998. Her interview reveals the both a jealous and a vindictive nature. In this transcription of a video interview, Misook gives her side of the story on the day of the murder. Note that she is anxious to get to your two PM court appearance for domestic abuse, in which Barton was supposed to testify against her. Click here to read a transcript of her interview with police: Misook Nowlin Interview June 1998
CHAPTER VI – A PAUSE TO REFLECT
In thousands of pages of letters over the years from Barton to his few remaining friends and family, beginning in the weeks following his arrest, he has recounted the above events without deviation down to the smallest details. To varying degrees the above events have been corroborated and verified by the records of the following public institutions, many documents of which we now possess.
Bloomington Police Department; Illinois State Police; McLean County Coroner’s Office; McLean County State’s Attorneys’ Office; McLean County Courthouse; McLean County Center for Human Services; AVERT Domestic Violence Program; Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS); McLean County Public Defender’s Office and others.
Note also that for the sake of economy this is only a summary of relevant key events relating to Christina’s murder and her innocent father’s wrongful prosecution and conviction. At the readers’ request we, Barton’s supporters, would be willing to provide further details and accompanying documentation where available. To read a fuller account of events in the weeks, days, hours, and minutes leading up to Christina’s murder.
CHAPTER VII – AWAITING TRIAL AND BEYOND
Prior to any investigation at all, Barton was hastily arrested without pause. Unable even to attend his child’s funeral, with all his might Barton tried to keep at bay the oppressive weight of grief, despair, and helplessness, to limited effect. Facing a potential death penalty, more important that saving his now-empty self, Barton’s single-minded task was to pursue his child’s killer until justice was served. To that end Barton found himself locked in intense opposition with the collective resources of the many that sought only to prosecute he who loved Christina the most. As a consequence, Barton alone had to do battle with the authorities who, in effect, were vouching for the innocence of his daughter’s true killer…no small task to be sure.
Though facing a mandatory life sentence if not a death penalty upon his (wrongful) conviction, Barton was appointed Public Defender Tracy Smith, who had himself never tried a murder case. Joining Smith a little later on was Public Defender Kim Campbell who, just three years earlier had been Barton’s lowly divorce attorney during the course of which she had a personal hostile run-in with Misook.
Barton’s biased appraisal of his McLean County appointed defense legal team has been understandably harsh. At the end of the day his “defense team” presented no affirmative defense, no defense testimony, no expert testimony, called no witnesses of any sort, and generally left uncontested any flimsy claims by prosecutors. The prosecution had at least 10 expert witnesses and lasted almost a full week. Meanwhile Barton’s defense portion of his trial lasted just eight minutes with no witnesses called. His defense lacked any adversarial test of the prosecution’s case. In effect, the trial was a high-speed railroad bridging the accusations to his wrongful sentence of death-by-prison, with little ado.
As the writers of this website were late newcomers to Barton’s cause of justice, we were at the distant sidelines as the judicial events of 1998 and 1999 ran their course on autopilot. Beginning the moment Misook strangled her mother-in-law, we have since studied the many facets of Barton’s case in consultation with legal experts. Indeed, we have no reservation to state the Barton’s court appointed attorney, Mr. Tracy Smith, who had never before defended a capital murder case, greatly contributed to his wrongful conviction. Many Perry Mason-esque or Columbo-esque moments and opportunities never seized by the defense attorney.
Yet there is plenty of blame to be shared that most squarely belongs on the Prosecutors themselves. Heading Barton’s prosecution was Assistant State’s Attorney Teena Griffin, who was soon joined by Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Wong, who personally prosecuted Misook for her Barton/Christina McNeil domestic violence offence of 1997, the year prior to the murder of Christina McNeil, during which Barton testified for the prosecution himself – a domestic violence offense that resulted from Barton’s attempt to flee Misook’s violent ways with his daughter Christina in his arms during this incident. This thoroughly documented event, though relevant to Barton’s defense and to his innocence, was concealed by prosecutors from his attorneys and from the court, as were quite a number of events, circumstances, witness accounts, and pieces of provocative evidence relating to Misook. As with Barton’s appraisal of his defense attorneys, Barton’s characterization of the behavior of prosecutors is not without merit when it comes to their unfounded dismissal of a litany of events, circumstances and evidence consistent with Misook’s own responsibility for Christina’s murder, and in turn consistent with the innocence of Barton. Again, only recently have we discovered through our own largely layman’s study of the investigative reports and court records, that Barton’s 14-year steadfast claims are substantially and grounded in the reality of all that Barton faced as the investigative and legal-process unfolded.
If this isn’t incestuous enough, Stephanie Wong, having successfully convicted Misook Nowlin in 1997 for the assault upon Barton and Christina McNeil, and having successfully played a part in the murder conviction of Barton McNeil in 1999, and having successfully convicted Misook Nowlin again in 1999 for the felony physical assault and smothering attach upon her daughter Michelle Nowlin, then later, in 2011, the same year in which Misook Nowlin murdered her mother-in-law, had become Misook’s defense counselor in Misook’s theft of over $300 in merchandise at a local Bloomington area apartment store. See attached legal document relating to Misook’s 2011 Felony Theft
When Misook became arrested in the murder of her mother-in-law, Stephanie Wong who had been appointed as a Public Defender in Misook’s felony theft case, asked if she could now be appointed Misook’s murder defense attorney! Fortunately sanity prevailed within McLean County with the felony theft charges dropped in lieu of Misook’s pending murder case with Stephanie Wong recused of representing Misook any longer.
Upon being jailed, Barton reasoned that, since no investigation had yet begun, surely once the police and prosecutors were able to confirm everything he had recounted to them about Misook, and once the belated (“post-arrest”) investigation took off, their mistake would be recognized, Barton’s charges would be dropped, and his daughter’s true killer would be arrested. Such as his naiveté’ at the time. Early on his fate had already become sealed.
As the weeks passed without any of Misook’s “inner circle” having come forward with what they surely knew or suspected, Barton began to consider that alongside Misook, others might have been also involved in his child’s murder. He swore that he was not going to rest until everyone who was involved was brought to justice. From within the jail Barton began the task of investigating his own daughter’s murder.
To this end Barton poured over all of the investigative reports that he obtained from his attorney, and further conducted interviews using the jail’s telephone. As a result of a number of revelations that he uncovered largely through the very same investigative documents originating from those authorities who were wrongfully prosecuting him, including even some Forensic revelations, with the utmost reluctance Barton became convinced that Misook was far from alone in her murder of Christina. To this day Barton believes that alongside Misook was her ex-husband, Andy Nowlin, who jointly forced their own daughter, Michelle, to participate in Christina’s murder in some manner.
Indeed, all of those persons most closely associated to Misook were eventually questioned by the police including Andy and Michelle Nowlin, step (or half) sisters Yuman and Susi, and Misook’s brother. But this line of the post-arrest investigation was at best, token, and was hopelessly tainted by Barton’s own highly premature pre-investigation arrest made by the Bloomington Police Department.
For her part, Misook was eventually questioned by numerous authorities including a a number of Bloomington Police detectives, Illinois State Police (polygraph and forensic scientists), Coroner’s Office staffers, and by Department of Children and Family Services investigators. Aside from Misook’s failed polygraph test, she was further questioned by detectives numerous times at the police department and at her apartment. Through her then private attorney Misook refused token requests to submit her hair samples to compare to hairs found in Christina’s hands.
In addition, countless others were questioned about Misook’s relations with Barton and Christina more generally, and about Misook’s activities near to the time of Christina’s murder. Phone records subpoenaed by the Grand Jury demonstrated that Misook had repeatedly lied to investigators about her activities and whereabouts near to the critical hours nearest to Christina’s death. And the detectives were unable to account for the whereabouts of anyone in Misook’s inner circle on the night of the murder.
Also present in the investigation of Misook* was her soon-to-be boyfriend and eventual husband Dong Wang who Misook had attempted to use as an alibi witness, through his value in her alibi ended at 9:30 p.m., long before Christina’s murder, and conflicted in many significant aspects with accounts given by Misook herself and by Susi Kaiser. In a later chapter Don Wang will return as it becomes his mother whom Misook is convicted of murdering 13 years later on September 5th, 2011.
The (post-arrest) investigation of Christina’s murder was not meant to solve it. On the contrary, prior to any investigation it had already been decided that Barton himself would be prosecuted. To the extent that any meaningful investigation ensued, it was only meant to result in evidence consistent with Barton’s guilt, and for purposes of undermining any inconvenient evidence that someone other than the arrestee/defendant had committed the murder.
When all was said and done Misook was under investigation to some extent or another during the course of the 3 months following Christina’s murder. By any definition Misook was the lead suspect in the investigation of Christina’s murder, bearing in mind that the entire investigation FOLLOWED Barton’s own highly premature arrest. However, Misook’s suspicious central presence in the facts and circumstances of Christina’s murder did not in any way slow the railroading of Barton. On the contrary, the greater the evidence implicating Misook, the greater the conspicuous effort to downplay, dismiss, retract, subvert, undermine, or outright conceal such evidence, commonly referred to in legal-speak as Brady material that in a landmark Supreme Court ruling, requires that prosecutors turn over to the defense all evidence that is both incriminatory as well as exculpatory in nature. In point of fact, the post-arrest investigation produced no “additional” evidence in any way consistent with Barton having killed his only child. But it did not matter…
Bart maintained his innocence each step of the way and while sitting in McLean County Jail was never requested to submit to a polygraph exam but would have eagerly welcomed it. Misook however had already shown some inaccuracies in statements she gave police that Detective Larry Shepherd asked if she would be willing to be given a polygraph exam that she agreed to. Misook at the time of the murder had worked for a good sized company located in Bloomington that was subcontracted to do mobile phone billing work on behalf of AT&T. Misook, having been born in Korea, was hired to be a Customer Service representative in order to help and assist Korean phone customers as she could speak both languages. She had arrived in the States around 1989 and spoke English when she lived in Korea which is how she met her future husband and emigrated to the U.S. So by 1998 she was fluent enough English and Korean to work in this capacity.
During the course of the exam a person is asked a series of baseline questions to elicit a neutral response that can become a baseline as compared to other questions more pertinent to a case that can be compared and contrasted to those questions known to be neutral. Such as what is your legal name? How old are you? Where do you live and what is your address? When asked key questions like do you know when Christina died, how she died, were you present when she died, did you kill her, Misook showed signs of Deception as denoted by the examiner who marks a “D” next to these questions on his report. He then references these questions in a report. The lead detective in the case, Detective Larry Shepherd, a person the examiner wishes to appease as after all the examiner wants to be called upon again and again by the Bloomington Police Department to show their worth, works with him in order to conclude that it must be an Engrish-problem, meaning her signs of Deception must be attributable to Misook not being born in the USA and therefore cannot speak the English language very well. And completely leave out the fact she worked as a Korean-English language translator for her employer.
Misook Polygraph Exam Results July 15th 1998 including Raw Data, Final Report, and Conclusion of the report by lead Detective Larry Shepherd
CHAPTER VIII – MISOOK NOWLIN, EXPOSSSED TO LEAD DETECTIVE LARRY SHEPHERD WITHIN TWO MONTHS OF THE CHRISTINA MCNEIL MURDER.. THIS TIME FOR THREATENING TO MURDER HER OWN DAUGHTER
Hot on the heels of Misook and her cohorts, some weeks after Barton’s arrest, Barton’s attorney learned that Misook had been recently arrested, yet again, and again for domestic violence. He found this out by doing a swap of providing Misook’s privately hired counsel all of Barton’s Discovery Case files without Barton’s permission. The events surrounding Misook’s subsequent conviction of having mercilessly beaten her then-8 year old daughter Michelle Nowlin are all thoroughly documented throughout several court cases. In this instance, Misook was arrested for a violent beating attack with a wooden road inflicted upon her own daughter’s pelvic region causing deep brusing, a stark confirmation of Barton’s account to the detectives of Misook’s own brutal child-abusing character – an offence committed while she had just begun her probation for the above prior domestic battery conviction which happened to also involve Christina. Misook’s post-murder attack upon her daughter Michelle occurred in the late summer of August 1998 at the very height of the police investigation of Misook for Christina’s murder that occurred just two months prior.
Aside from the beating offense itself, during repeated interviews stemming from this incident, Michelle made a host of revelations to her school officials and the investigating authorities that seemed intended to implicate Misook in Christina’s murder, so obvious was this beating offense and Misook herself connected to the child murder some weeks earlier.
During multiple interviews with her grade school teacher, principal, police detective Larry Shepherd (who also happened to be the lead detective in Christina’s murder investigation), and Department of Family Services (DCFS) investigator Bethany Wenger, Michelle recounted how Misook had also committed a smothering attack upon her while threatening to kill her in the same manner in which Christina had been killed, and that, according to Michelle, this peculiar manner of smothering involved Misook pinching closed Michelle’s nose while covering her mouth with her other hand. Surely by no coincidence, Christina’s own smothering injuries were wholly consistent with the manner in which Michelle claimed to have been smothered by Misook.
Michelle also claimed that both attacks occurred on the very same bed that Christina had been smothered to death upon some weeks earlier. Following Barton’s arrest his landlord had donated Barton’s furniture, including Christina’s deathbed, to the Salvation Army. As part of her sentence of probation for Misook’s previously discussed 1998 domestic violence conviction (an offense involving both Barton and Christina alike), which was initially scheduled for sentencing June 17th with Bart called by the Prosecutors of the case to testify, the day following Christina’s murder, but was postponed until sometime in July, the court also ordered that Misook perform “community service” volunteer work at the Salvation Army. While there Misook recognized Christina’s deathbed, a bed she was long familiar with since it had once been the lone bed in the children’s bedroom in the apartment that Misook and Barton had shared up until the past April.
According to Michelle, Misook then had ex-husband Andy come and deliver Christina’s deathbed from the Salvation Armey back to Misook’s apartment where, during her visits, Michelle would be forced to sleep upon – Michelle being Christina’s 3-year acting step sister ending with her death.
By now you the reader are probably believing this is too much to be true! Well here is a link to the original set of reports concerning this violent beating / smothering attack / threat to murder her own daughter just 6 weeks after Christina was murdered: Beating of Misook’s Daughter Michelle Nowlin ten weeks after Christina McNeil murder
And the Testimony of Michele Nowlin’s Principal during this felony assault case in which Misook was again convicted of: 2009 Feb 23 Testimony of Principal Anna Frazier from Michelle Nowlin’s school.
Note that at no point in time even though the prosecution of Barton McNeil, and the prosecution for Misook Nowlin were both concurrent to one another, meaning March 1999 being a pivotal time for both cases, did the Prosecution ever disclose to Barton’s legal team that Misook had violently beaten and attempted to smother her own daughter. Nor disclosed the above testimony by Michelle Nowlin’ principal that clearly showed there existed a connection between the two cases based upon Misook’s words alone to her daughter. And then compare the exact method smothering attack, that according to Misook’s daughter Michelle, involved her mother pinching Michelle’s nose tightly and placing her hand over Michelle’s mouth firmly so that she could not breath, to the diagram used by the Pathologist in showing Christina McNeil’s face showing bruising around the mouth. The autopsy showed furthermore that Christina McNeil suffered a bloody nose in her attack. Christina McNeil Autopsy Report diagram of face and Initial 3 page handwritten autopsy report 6-16-98 – bruises around mouth and bloody nose
Preceding the violent smothering attack on her own daughter, Misook was administered a Polygraph exam by Illinois State Police. Barton was never asked to take a Polygraph Exam, only Misook. It is important to note that Polygraph exams are now allowed under Illinois Law as evidence. However they are used by investigators as a tool. When a person fails a Polygraph then further and deeper investigation is warranted. In a Polygraph exam benchmarks of truthfulness are established with questions being asked such as what is your name. Of course the person is not lying at this point in time. Test questions then are asked such as how old you are, what your address is, etc. Later in the polygraph exam questions pertaining to the matter at hand are asked. Misook was asked whether she new how Christina died, what time Christina died, where Christina died, who was involved in her murder and in all instances Misook responses were off the chart causing the Polygraph Examiner to note that Misook was showing clear signs of Deception in response to these questions. See the Polygraph Exam findings here: Polygraph Report July 20 1998 that shows Deception by Misook on 4 key questions
Here are some still images taken of Misook during her Police Interview. Her body language speaks volumes to her being guilty of this crime: Misook body language
Despite these events stark relevance to Misook’s then lead suspect status while in the midst of the investigation of Christina’s murder, in consultation with Barton’s prosecutors, Teena Griffin and Stephanie Wong, the authorities attempted to retract, undermine, and sweep under the rug Michelle’s credible claims. As Barton observed this process unfolding, he could not escape the implications to his increasingly dire future, and to the character of those, by intent or incompetence, who were facilitating Barton’s wrongful conviction as well as his child’s killer(s) getaway.
Beyond the scope of this summary of events, a number of other revelations would ensue that were as exculpatory to Barton as they were incriminating to Misook and her abettors.
Nonetheless, prosecutors set about to bar any jury from hearing any evidence consistent with Barton’s actual innocence, nor any evidence incriminating to his child’s real killer. In effect, prosecutors were vouching for the innocence of a child killer in their single-minded quest to pin Christina’s murder upon her innocent father.
In concert with Barton’s grossly inept appointed public defenders, prosecutors managed to get the court to suppress all evidence relating to Misook, ruling upon a favorable Motion of Limine, despite her long lead-suspect status and the litany of events and circumstances discussed above. Aside from the grave injustice of the final escape of his daughter’s killer, Barton’s future wrongful conviction was now a foregone conclusion.
What this court ruling meant was, Barton could present no evidence of his innocence to a jury, at the expense of his daughter’s true killer. Given that Christina was indeed murdered in Barton’s home while in his care, the above order barring any defense presentation of evidence incriminating to Misook, meant that Barton could present no evidence consistent with his actual innocence. By default Barton would be found guilty. Moreover, since the court ruling only concerned what a jury could hear, Barton was effectively barred from having a trial by jury. After all, what good is a jury trial when the defense is barred from presenting any evidence in a supposed truth-finding adversarial process?
This is the Motion in Limine that in effect convicted Barton in advance of his own trial: Memorandum of Law Concerning Admissability of Evidence Which Suggests Guilt of Another 12-28-98
With the Motion in Limine agreed upon by Barton’s eventual Bench Trial judge, Prosecutors had succeeded in removing Christina’s life and death from its true context in which Misook was a the center, and put it in a bubble in which was confined only cherry-picked “evidence” and circumstances of prosecutors’ own choosing. At best Barton’s trial would be a mere formality, for absent an ability to present any evidence consistent with his actual innocence, the uncontested accusations of prosecutors, in and of themselves, would result in a guilty verdict by default. Barton would be his only defense witness, but even then he was prohibited from mentioning anything about Christina’s true killer, nor the litany of circumstances and evidence relating to Misook.
Because of the defense attorneys’ refusal to investigate the case themselves and pursue obvious leads and evidence that Barton himself handed to them on a silver platter, on top of the questionable actions of prosecutors themselves, his relations with his assigned Public Defenders Tracy Smith and Kim Campbell deteriorated as he watched the escape of Christina’s killer unfold, paid for by his now-certain wrongful conviction. Not wishing to associate themselves with an accused child killer villainously portrayed by the local newspaper, Barton’s many longtime friends had long ago felled by the wayside.
CHAPTER X – THE SECOND BEGINNING
Wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison, Barton pledged to pursue those who had stolen his daughter’s life, even if he could only do so from prison walls of the maximum security prison he was sentenced to. If he would have anything to say about it, justice would not be denied to Christina.
CHAPTER XI – Wishful Thinking
So began Barton’s efforts all over again. So far as the local McLean County criminal justice process was concerned, his innocence had meant nothing at the end of the day, nor had the evidence implicating Misook in Christina’s murder for that matter. Surely the State of Illinois appeal process would right these multiple wrongs. Just as Barton had reason to expect his prompt release from jail (and Misook’s arrest) shortly after his highly premature pre-investigation arrest by the Bloomington Illinois Police Department, so too was Barton’s delusional belief that his prison incarceration would be short upon a reversal of his wrongful conviction once “the truth came out”. Such was the remnants of Barton’s still gross naiveté’.
CHAPTER XII – INCONVENIENT FACTS – A Pause to Reflect part 2
The singular circumstantial evidence that resulted in Barton’s wrongful conviction was the uncontestable fact that Christina was in fact murdered in his home. During his several police interviews and intense 7-hour interrogation Barton never said anything that would remotely rise to the level of a confession. On the contrary, then and to this day Barton vehemently maintained his innocence throughout, and instead responded to his interrogators’ vile accusations with countless verifiable events, leads, and circumstances far more consistent with his child’s murder at the hands of his bitterly estranged girlfriend, Misook Nowlin.
To the extent that prosecutors might claim that Barton may have said something suspicious during his interrogations, Barton replies that had the videotapes of his 7-hour interrogation been disclosed, an interrogation that Barton himself is documented as having insisted be videotaped; his precise words then could not be misconstrued. This videotape’s conspicuous absence from the truth-finding legal process should speak volumes as to the issue of whether Barton’s precise words furthered the prosecutors’ case against him or were instead exculpatory.
Along with the complete absence of anything resembling a confession, equally absent was any prior felony record, except for a minor prescription drug offense dating back to 1980. Throughout the (post arrest) investigation police/prosecutors were unable to find the slightest hint of evidence that Barton had ever raised an improper hand to his child. Instead, by all witness accounts without exception, Barton was a doting father to Christina.
Absent also was any sort of murder weapon, or any sort of physical or forensic evidence that in any way implicated Barton in his daughter’s murder. Lacking also was any plausible motive for him to kill his child. Indeed police/prosecutors conspicuously neglected to try to reconcile the timing of Christina’s murder, or provide some plausible account as to why Barton himself would be compelled to murder his only child just hours after his bitter breakup with his obviously psychotic, stalking, violent, child-abusing girlfriend with her own multiple motives to murder her estranged boyfriend’s daughter.
While the circumstance that Christina died while in Barton’s care may indeed be probative, there were no accompanying circumstances, nor evidence, to support the highly improbable theory that, out of the blue, Christina’s father decided to end her life.
The extensive intruder-related evidence on and about the window screen in the otherwise wide open ground floor bedroom window was substantial. In concert with the evidence, events, and circumstances relating to Misook only part of which is briefly addressed within this summary, had Barton’s right to a jury trial not been so subverted through the successful Motion of Limine, it is unlikely that prosecutors would have followed through with trying Christina’s father. And it is further improbable that, had a jury been allowed to consider the defense presentation of evidence consistent with Barton’s innocence, the full extent of which is summarized above only in part, Barton would not have been wrongfully convicted.
CHAPTER XIII – BEHIND BARS, DOWN, BUT NOT OUT
Once in prison Barton reconstituted his efforts all over again. He was soon appointed an appellate defender, a sort of public defender for the appeals process. The central issue of this appeal, indeed the only issue of all of his appeals, was the issue of the trial court’s granting of the State’s (prosecutor’s) Motion to Surpress (otherwise known as a Motion of Limine) from a jury any and all evidence relating to his bitterly estranged girlfriend and lead suspect, Misook Nowlin, now also known as Misook Wang, who herself had the means, multiple motives, opportunity, intimate familiarity with the habits of the victim and crime scene, proved-false and conflicting alibi accounts, documented stalking tendencies, an obvious psychopathology, multiple domestic violence convictions, a propensity for violence against children, the common design between her smothering attack upon her own daughter and that of Christina’s smothering murder (to include injuries to Christina consistent with the specific covering-of-the-mouth and nose pinching manner of smothering described by Michelle) and more beyond the scope of these pages.
The following is essentially what denied Barton McNeil a fair and just trial. It is the McLean County Prosecutor’s malicious Motion in Limine that prevented and gagged Barton as well as his McLean County Public Defender’s office appointed Public Defender Tracy Smith from uttering the name “Misook Nowlin” in Barton’s trial. He and his attorney were barred from telling the jury about Misook having assaulted him and Christina the year before. The fact that she had been ordered to attend Anger Mangement classes. That she had the motive to murder Christina who had become between Misook and her relationship with Bart as Bart preferred to be a father and spend time with his little growing girl. So the rights that we readers take for granted, namely that all citizens have the right to a fair and impartial trial of one’s peers, where ALL EVIDENCE can be viewed by a jury, can easily be quashed when the Prosecutor’s file a Motion in Limine which is to prevent certain evidence to be heard by a jury. And when the Judge presiding over the case, as did Michael C. Prall in this case, agrees with the State Prosecutors, it then fundamentally denied the ability for Bart or his counsel to present to the jury that there existed a much more likely suspect in the murder of Christina McNeil who had both the ability and motive to murder his daughter. Despite there existing an overwhelming preponderance of evidence pointing to Misook. This Motion then beget what is known as a Motion to Show Proof hearing in Bart’s case, otherwise known as a Pre-Trial proceeding, that was held March 4, 1999, to argue orally between the State’s prosecutorial team and Bart’s attorney Tracy Smith that Barton be percluded the ability to tell a jury about his relations with Misook and his belief that she murdered his daughter. This is where the gravest travesty of justice in Barton’s case, bar none, took place. Bart’s true conviction then took place at a Pre-Trial hearing, not his actual Bench Trial months later, on March 4, 1999.
Without missing a beat the appeals courts dismissed, rejected, and denied Barton’s appeals, essentially affirming his wrongful conviction. In yet another cruel irony, the mere act of appealing his wrongful conviction dug his grave even deeper. To put it another way, the louder that Barton maintained his innocence, the greater the strength of his wrongful conviction. Eventually Barton was forced to appeal his case without the aid of any legal counsel whatsoever. Without pause, his wrongful conviction was rubberstamped again by the same judge, Michael Prall, who convicted him in the first place.
While Barton attempted to school himself in the law, he intently studied his court records and transcripts, while taking extensive notes. In addition to his strictly legal efforts, Barton returned to all of the raw investigative materials, which by now had resulted in hundreds of pages of Bartons’ own detailed notes. To the best that he was able, he also immersed himself in the intricacies of scientific truth-finding, hair microscopy, stain-related forensics, DNA, and forensics more broadly, in his single-minded effort to find answers to as-yet unresolved mysteries – in particular relating to hair evidence found in Christina’s hands and stain evidence found on Christina’s clothing and bed sheet, none of which originated from Barton and which, in all probability, originated from Christina’s true killer.
Concurrently, Barton began writing letters, sometimes of great length, to all of the innocence organization addresses he could find. He further wrote at length to his unenthusiastic appointed appeal attorneys, and to prominent attorneys known for getting wrongful convictions overturned.
These efforts bore no fruit. At best Barton would only receive a request for tens-of-thousands of dollars for expert legal representation. Sometimes he would receive some form letter declining his desperate plea for help from one of these innocence organizations who are no doubt swamped with pleas for help every bit as deserving as Barton’s. More often Barton received no reply at all to his pleas of help.
Barton’s day-to-day prison life was no picnic either. The reader can only imagine the creeping despair and helplessness of the twin injustices of the complete escape of his innocent child’s killer(s), at the high price of his own increasingly likely death-by-prison.
Meanwhile, Barton also directed his efforts at Family members who might provide some level of support, no matter how slight. He found no takers. On the contrary, his nearest Family members promptly ended all relations with him, continuing to this very day. Months on end passed without his receiving any mail at all. At best Barton might receive a Christmas card along with a few desperately needed dollars from some distant relative who otherwise showed no interest in the cause of his innocence nor in his plight. On one hand Barton could count the number of visits he has had in prison during the course of his 14 years.
Reaching out a little further Barton had better luck in re-establishing some long lost family relations dating back to when he was a child, centering around his saintly elderly maternal grandmother who was his lone support pillar until she passed away some years back. She and her daughter’s, Barton’s maternal aunts, were a part of his wider circle of family that largely faded away with the passage of time as a natural consequence of the death of his mother while he was still a young child. Thankfully some from this end of his distant family were willing to exchange some letters with Barton, but would remain otherwise not particularly involved in his seemingly obsessive pursuit of his former estranged girlfriend, this Misook Nowlin character, who he cast blame upon for his child’s murder.
CHAPTER XIV – WE THE PEOPLE – LETTERS FROM HELL
Today we are Barton’s core of enthusiastic supporters – the maternal relatives referred to above. For reasons resulting from a dramatic murderous event discussed in a chapter to follow, we have belatedly come to realize the stark truth of Barton’s words, which up until recently were not that obvious.
From afar we only knew of the general circumstances of the death of Barton’s daughter, who we never had the privilege of knowing. Indeed, we had heard little from or about Barton during the course of the previous decade, thus knew little of his character as an adult. In little detail we knew some of what transpired during his quick murder trial and some cursory awareness of “the evidence”, but not much else. Likewise we knew little about the criminal justice process, since no one in our family has ever had the misfortunes as had befallen Barton. We also were only vaguely aware of his presumably unsubstantiated claims against this estranged girlfriend of his, Misook Nowlin.
As a family we normally always defer to the judgment of law enforcement authorities, and to the integrity of the criminal justice system’s verdicts.
When Barton began writing to us shortly after arriving in prison fourteen years ago, we did no more than read his words and become his nearly only lifeline to the outside world, limiting it to occasional letters and financial needs from time to time. Since no one else seemed to be in Barton’s corner, we just presumed the guilty verdict to be sound. After all, who were we to question the judgment of law enforcement and judicial professionals? Not eager to believe the worst of our distant relative, by the same token, his words carried little weight when he wrote of the magnitude of the injustice to which he claimed he and his late daughter were suffering. To have believed any of what Barton wrote would be to discount all we had come to believe about truth and justice. Most of us would confine our relations to him to reading his letter and some small favors from time to time, but would otherwise not take pause in our own busy lives to involve ourselves with Barton’s predicament.
Nonetheless Barton wrote countless letters to us, unrelenting in his obsession over what he claimed was his estranged girlfriend’s successful murder of his child, to include his suspicion of other’s involvement as well, and successful framing of the crime by his estranged girlfriend Misook upon himself. In his many letters he also came to suspect that his daughter might not have been the first victim to die at the hands of this shady Misook character. Hardly anything of which Barton wrote us was ever mentioned in his trial not in news reports, so naturally we took his words with a grain of salt.
Down to the smallest detail Barton’s words parsed the event of his child’s murder every which way, revisiting every nuance of the evidence to include technical forensic issues far in excess of routine family correspondence. In a manner of speaking, Barton’s letters to us were to himself. Often he would ask us to look something up on the internet relating to DNA testing, serology, hair forensic, and the like. Though Barton’s words were intense, the thrust of which never deviated, we largely remained uninvolved and uncommitted to his single-minded efforts which seemed to consume him, instead, choosing to remain at a distance, yet still provide some manner of aid to ease his prison existence – quite separate from any possible question of his guilt or innocence to which we invested little thought. Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Barton, increasingly began to confine his letters to inconsequential mundane small talk, as the issue of survival and basic needs began to be of greater concern, as any chance of being exonerated or having his wrongful conviction overturned faded further.
For a spell one of Barton’s more distant maternal relatives took it upon herself to come to Barton’s aid upon his maternal grandmother’s request. All alone, second cousin Grace, who lived nearest to Bart in Indiana, came to know of his case in some significant detail, while engaging in regular correspondence with him. Having looked into the matter herself, she came to recognize the probability that Barton was in fact innocent after all, and that his claims against his crazed ex-girlfriend were not totally without substantial backing. Yet Grace could involve no further allies, thus the enormous burden fell on her shoulders alone to try to rescue Barton from his unjust fate.
During their countless letters (and numerous phone calls) taking place several years after Barton’s conviction, Barton again spoke at great length about all manner of events relating to his dysfunctional relations with Misook Nowlin, to the detailed circumstances relating to Christina’s murder, to the investigation thereto, to all manner of evidence, and more. His highly detailed letters would routinely number dozens of single spaced pages in length, a good number of them in the 60-page range, and more than one numbering well over a hundred pages. To Grace alone, countless letters restricted almost entirely to the subject of his daughter’s murder number several thousand pages. We thus have little doubt that over the course of his incarceration, Barton has surely authored over ten-thousand pages in letters and other writings in his steadfast attempt to reverse the multiple injustices from his daughter’s murder to our family and others.
Yet despite the dedication and effort exercised on behalf of Barton, Grace eventually became discouraged at the enormity of the task she had attempted to undertake, and at the total intransigence of the institutions bent on maintaining a conviction at all costs, even when it should be obvious that Barton’s conviction was unjust. Though Grace’ selfless efforts seems to bear no fruit, through no fault of her own, they would pay off in a big and unexpected way some years down the road.
Discouraged to no end, Grace too gradually faded from Barton’s life. Aside from a lone longtime friend, Barton’s tenuous lifeline to the free world was limited to the few letters that we exchanged with him each year. Himself discouraged to no end, Barton no longer wrote of his daughter’s death, his estranged girlfriend, or of his claimed wrongful conviction. Instead he seemed to be more concerned with his more immediate necessities and the likelihood that through the attrition of the passage of time, in addition to a certain future of unjust incarceration until death, he will be totally alone and hopelessly destitute before too long.
CHAPTER XV – BACK AT THE PRISON…. “WHO SAID “LIFE WAS FAIR?”
By 2006 Barton’s state appeals had run their course to no avail. His recent biggest supporter had fallen off the map, and the stark reality of his now-certain fate was inescapable. Of Barton’s increasing concern was who was going to look after his basic needs, beyond the insufficient token provisions supplied by the prison. His connection to the outside world was tenuous and minimal. At best, Barton’s telephone use was limited to only a single phone call per year.
An avid writer, Barton found no one much interested in what he had to say, particularly when it came to the subject of his wrongful conviction. He further found no one willing to regularly correspond more broadly with him to any meaningful extent. Eventually, Barton wrote to a number of potential persons from an out of date list of names and addresses only to discover that of the ten or so persons he wrote to, none of their addresses were any good.
Due to frequent prison-wide lockdowns, library access was quite limited. Since arriving in prison, and with nothing but time on his hands, Barton enmeshed himself in reading. Often he would receive books in the mail from ‘Books for Prisoners’ charities he would regularly write requesting books. This was a Godsend for sure. With this resource, Barton could better his condition by self-education through reading in depth about subjects that interested him.
Barton refused to be shaped by convict culture. He kept mostly to himself, but managed to find a few friendships in prison. He found good people who had done bad things, and bad people who, in prison anyway, were not as bad as society had judged them to be. Though he, about as far from being a killer as anyone in a maximum security prison could be, for obvious reasons Barton was not entirely comfortable to be in the company of REAL killers. Nonetheless, very few of his fellow inmates had a murderous character as sinister as Misook Nowlin, and none had gotten clean away with their murder(s). Naturally, Barton gravitated to others who also had a serious legitimate claim of innocence.
Even to this day, Barton cannot hold a thought for very long before some aspect of his murder case enters his mind; be it his child’s death, events relating to Misook Nowlin, or about his wrongful conviction. Still, to survive in prison, maintain his sanity, and keep misery at bay, Barton makes a concerted effort to occupy his mind with other matters, to which books and his small TV have been his ‘great escape’.
As the progression of years turned into a decade, Barton no longer had any illusion that he would ever set foot outside of prison walls. His fate was as sealed as an incarcerated person in a Maximum Security prison.
The countless investigative documents and court records in his property box only occupied space and collected dust in his cell. No more did he spend countless hours reviewing the documents and writing endlessly about them. More than once in recent years Barton considered just tossing them in the garbage. Though he had long possessed a collection of grainy computer printouts of photos of his now long deceased daughter, Christina, he has mostly avoided visiting them as they only invoked sad memories. Prison lacks the privacy to mourn the loss of your dearest loved one, and the passage of time does not diminish the intensity of emotions at the sight of his once happy and carefree child. Yet these rarely viewed photos remain Barton’s dearest possessions.
CHAPTER XVI – WHERE IS MISOOK NOWLIN?
As for the venomous Misook Nowlin; the name Barton had known her, though she later took on the name of Misook Kim and/or Kim Misook, he had no idea what had become of her. The last he knew, Misook was serving weekends in the County Jail just as he was being shipped off to prison. From last Barton heard, Misook was serving time for her latest domestic violence conviction relating to the beating of her daughter, Michelle, in 1998. This was yet another cruel irony: Misook was tried and convicted for domestic battery regarding a minor child just one week before Barton was tried and wrongfully convicted for Misook’s murder of his daughter. If this was not enough irony, both convictions were administered by the same Judge and Stephanie Wang served as Prosecutor for both.
From the Police Reports at the time, Barton knew that Misook was subsequently romantically involved with her recent co-worker, Don Wang. Barton had previously met Don Wang in social settings on a number of occasions and who Barton had considered to be a genuinely nice guy. By Barton’s opinion, of those persons involved in Misook’s ‘gang of six’; only Don Wang seemed to be genuinely and completely oblivious to what Misook had done to Barton’s daughter. Close to Misook near the time of Christina’s death, Don Wang was also questioned by detectives in the post-arrest investigation of lead suspect, Misook, and Wang was Misook’s dubious would-be ‘alibi’ witness whose supposed value ended several hours prior to the in which Barton had last seen his daughter alive.
XVII – AWAITING TRIAL AND BEYOND
Having narrowly escaped for her murder of Christina, along with her many other deserved misfortunes in the local criminal justice system, Barton figured that if Misook had any sense, she would have fled back to her native Korea, or at least fled the state of Illinois. As Barton came to learn much later, some evidence suggests that Misook did move back to California after Christina’s murder. Misook had previously lived in California until mid 1994, and soon afterwards Barton came to know of her.
But of this Barton was certain: so wildly successful was Misook’s cunning scheme to set up her betraying estranged lover through the murder of his own daughter, murder would surely visit Misook’s future domestic betrayers and/or their own dearest loved ones. Unknown to Barton at the time, in 2006, Christina-murder-investigation interviewer, Don Wang, would marry post-arrest lead suspect Misook Nowlin, who would also be then known as Misook Wang having taken his name.
CHAPTER XVII – THE CRUEL HAND OF FATE
In the meantime, back in prison, Barton continued his now thirteenth year battle to keep from falling into a bottomless pit of misery, despair, and brokenness resulting from his final acceptance that the only thing he had to look forward to now was his certain lonely death in prison in the hopefully not so distant future. Were he not so lacking in courage, Barton might have followed through with thoughts of speeding up this process with his own hands. For the time being, Barton would try to make the best of what remained of his life, and trudge along one uneventful day after another.
CHAPTER XVIII – THE EARTH SHATTERS – THE PURSUIT OF MISOOK NOWLIN PART 2
One day in early September 2011, Barton was sitting on his bunk immersed in the task of writing his four page letters of introduction to would be pen pals of which he would eventually write a dozen of. Aside from his need for some regular meaningful correspondence, he had future needs that only an outsider could fulfill as his final family contacts eventually fade from his life. (Every one of those letters was returned to him undeliverable).
As was his usual routine, while writing these pen pal letters, Barton had his small TV tuned to Chicago’s WGN noon broadcast of the news. Although immersed in the writing task at hand, Barton caught only the tail end of some news item about the murder of some elderly Asian woman from the Chicago area whose body was found at a nearby wildlife park. Only a fleeting thought of Misook interrupted Barton’s letter writing task. It was just as well, for had he seen the entire news item, Barton surely would have freaked out on the spot.
Due to the lethargic pace of mail delivery at the prison, several weeks later Barton received a letter from his lone remaining friend, Chuck Nicholson, who regularly exchanged letters with Barton over the years. Like his second cousin, Grace, and for a while in concert with Grace’s efforts, Chuck also had made significant efforts to help reverse the twin injustices suffered by Barton and his late daughter.
From within the envelope that Barton had just received from Chuck, Barton removed a newspaper clipping and unfolded it to read. It was the front page headline of the Bloomington newspaper, The Pantagraph, which thirteen years earlier had covered Barton’s hearings and trial in some detail, while portraying him as a beastial child killer. More than any local news source, The Pantagraph had been intensely hostile to Barton’s claim of innocence and to the truth of the identity of his child’s true killer, Misook Nowlin. In 1998 and 1999, The Pantagraph had made references to Misook Nowlin in articles about Barton’s murder case on several occasions.
Across the front page of the September 5, 2011 Pantagraph, streamed across the top of the page in the heaviest bold print, screamed the headline “Woman Charged in Slaying”.
Below the headline was a mug shot of the accused killer. Misook Wang. Staring right at Barton from the page was the photo of his daughter’s killer, Misook Nowlin, whose face, though etched in his memory, he had not seen in over 13 years. Scanning through the article, Barton realized that this was the same news item he had caught the tail end of in the previously mentioned noon news on WGN TV a few weeks earlier. The newspaper article identified this story as the elderly female Asian victim’s corpse was found buried in a wildlife park near Joliet, Illinois, not far from Chicago.
From this lone article, Barton gathered the following basic facts. Apparently, Misook and would be (failed) alibi witness from 1998, Don Wang, had married. Barton soon after was able to learn that they married in 2006, though it is unclear if they were romantically involved continuously from 1998 to 2006; or where she or they resided during this time frame. They eventually started a family and a son named Donovan was born. At some point in their more recent relationship, problems appeared which resulted in some bitter domestic strife. Eventually, this led to Misook murdering her husband’s mother, the 70 year old Wenlan “Linda” Tyda of Crest Hill, Illinois located next door to Joliet. Conspicuously absent from the article was any mention of Misook’s brief 1998 and 1999 published notoriety as the shady ex-girlfriend of the man (Barton) whose child was murdered upon the immediate heels of their bitter breakup.
Astonishingly, it was this same Misook who Barton maintained, in addition to his innocence, was the person responsible for the murder of Christina McNeil. To anyone with a sense of mind, Misook’s murder of her husband’s mother during the course of their domestic turmoil leaves no longer a shadow of doubt who murdered Barton’s child in 1998 during the height of their domestic estrangement. Clearly, Barton’s wrongful conviction and the escape of his daughter’s killer had just been paid for in blood by her currently estranged husband’s mother Wenlan Linda Tyda.
Instantly energized, Barton dropped all that he was doing; for now he was on a mission that he had once failed miserably. This time he was armed with the now obvious fact that Misook Nowlin (she remains being known as Misook Nowlin; as well as, Misook Wang), is indeed a psycho killer, and given the inescapable realization that she also killed the daughter of her estranged boyfriend in 1998, Misook Nowlin is also an outright serial killer.
Moreover, now that Misook was in the slammer facing three counts of first degree murder, the many Bloomington authorities who had been so friendly to her in 1998 and 1999, today could hardly vouch for her innocence with a straight face, for Christina’s murder, in light of Misook’s recent most murder. No matter the origins of Barton’s wrongful conviction, those persons responsible for it, and for Misook’s clean getaway for Christina’s murder, now have a heavy burden of their own to bear, as they must universally recognize that their multiple dramatic missteps has led also to the 13 year wrongful imprisonment of the innocent father of the child Misook also murdered a decade earlier. Having the moral courage to admit to those obvious truths is another matter entirely as we look forward to the day when this will happen.
In addition, presently there are surely quite a number of authorities (police and prosecutors) involved in the current prosecution of Misook for the Tyda murder who lack the self-serving motives of others with the audacity to still try and vouch for the innocence of Christina’s true killer, who are similarly fully aware of Barton’s actual innocence and Misook’s guilt. Yet, these folks too may lack the moral courage (to say nothing of their public responsibility) to do what’s right by Misook’s multiple victims, Christina McNeil, Wenlan Tyda, and Barton himself. From the standpoint of intransigent authorities, Barton’s renewed pursuit of his child’s killer was not likely to be so vigorously (nor openly) opposed this time around, unlike his lone pursuit in 1998 and 1999 of Christina’s killer against the entire weight and resources of the law enforcement and judicial establishments. If nothing else, Barton could rest a little easier knowing that Misook’s serial murdering ways had finally come to an end, and that if Misook is still sided in her escape for her responsibility for what she did to Barton and his daughter, at least Misook will finally pay for ONE of her murders). In the meantime, Barton had several immediate tasks at hand. The first was to alert the local media to the connection between the now infamous charged killer of her estranged husband’s mother, Misook Wang, to the 1998 murder of Christina McNeil, of which Misook Nowlin was a reported shadowy figure as the child’s father’s estranged girlfriend. Barton directed his efforts at the Bloomington area TV and radio stations, which also had covered Barton’s (wrongful) prosecution at some length back in the late 1990’s. Surely, the local media would be intrigued to learn of murderess Misook’s prior notoriety in connection to a prior Bloomington child murder.
Miraculously, as prisoners usually can only make telephone calls to those that are on their approved caller list, Barton was able to reach local AM talk show radio WJBC. Beth Whisman ran the news desk and was on-air when Barton called. She took his call and introduced Barton to the radio show listeners and basically asked Barton “what’s up” not knowing herself the importance of Misook’s arrest in Bloomington week’s earlier. Barton was on the radio for almost ten minutes telling the audience how he had been telling the truth all along and how Misook’s arrest most assuredly had to vindicate all he had been saying for the past decade to all those who would listen.
Fighting to fend off the emotions of the moment, Barton poured out the pent up contents of his heart as in the span of the live 15 minute interview, he spoke to the listening audience—recanting every significant detail connecting the now infamous Misook Wang to his child’s 1998 murder. In an instant, the cat was out of the bag. Tellingly, the authorities chose not to alert the media to the extraordinary newsworthy event that, accused murderer, Misook Wang, was once at the center of a child murder investigation.
WJBC then posted the link to Barton’s impromptu interview and with the aid of his friend, Chuck, who lived in Bloomington, was able to send the radio interview link and news of Misook’s arrest to the few extended family members of Barton’s who remained in contact with him that was his cousin Grace and his two aunts. This was big news to his family as after all, Misook was THE central figure in the thousands of pages of letters he had written over the years that in any way discussed the circumstances of Christina’s murder. In a manner of speaking, at a distance and through his words, Barton’s few family contacts had come to know this Misook character that he seemed to obsess over in his single-minded claims that this estranged girlfriend had murdered his daughter. Surely they too would be severely moved when faced with the stark reality that, just as Barton had maintained all of these years, as fate would have it, this Misook was a stone cold killer after all. Obviously, and within seconds of the family receiving this announcement, it became all too crystal clear that Barton had been telling the truth all of these years afterall, and Misook’s most recent murder vis-a-vis Barton’s pronouncements could not possibly be the result of just sheer coincidence. Surely, in an instant, his family contacts would recognize once and for all that, not only was Barton innocent of killing his child, but also quite obviously his intense suspicions of Misook’s responsibility for Christina’s murder had been all along, spot on.
Barton further reasoned that, in all certainty, the moment Misook’s name came up in the police investigation into the disappearance of her mother-in-law, police and prosecutors recognized precisely who she was, in relation to the (post arrest) 1998 investigation of Christina’s murder—and while today they will surely never admit it—they obviously then realized that Misook had indeed murdered Christina after all, and that they were now faced with the taste of both defending in public a now known by our family serial killer (notwithstanding their prosecution of the Tyda murder case), and defending a now known obvious grossly wrongful conviction. Barton also thought it likely that, during the course of Misook’s recent lengthy interrogation, the subject of Christina’s murder—or rather, the subject of her obvious murder of Christina came forth. And just as imagined, we very recently received confirmation that to some as-yet unknown extent, Christina’s 1998 murder did indeed become a part of Misook’s 2011 Tyda murder interrogation.
In addition to Barton’s radio interview, Jacob Long, a television news reporter from local Bloomington area WMBD CBS/Fox came to interview Barton in prison in December 2011, in apparent recognition of Barton’s innocence resulting from Misook’s latest murder. This TV interview aired early in February 2012. During the course of the year Barton has further written countless detailed letters to these and other local media outlets, to encourage greater exposure to his just cause.
CHAPTER XIX – MISOOK NOWLIN/MISOOK WANG – SOURCES
While many of the circumstances of the 2011 murder of Wenlan Tyda differ from the circumstance of the 1998 murder of Christina McNeil, in many other circumstances there are similarities, both symbolic and literally are stark. In varying degrees of detail, there were quite a number of news reports on the heels of Misook’s arrest.
From these news reports Barton and his supporters have compiled some of the facts of the Tyda murder that are otherwise not widely known, in order to create a larger narrative of the event. We have also drawn on the growing court files as the Pre-Trial hearings for Misook’s murder case progresses. For obvious reasons, we are intently monitoring every detail of Misook’s current prosecution, in light of its intimate relation to her prior murder of Christina McNeil. From out of state, we have a representative of Barton and the late Christina present in the courtroom during the course of all of Misook’s court hearings thus far. We are troubled by the total absence of any friends and family of the murder victim, Wenlan Tyda, at any of the court hearings. Friends and family of Misook, herself have also been absent from the courtroom.
Court files open to the public, that we have copies of and will share with anyone for the asking, include the State’s DISCOVERY witness lists; evidence lists; detailed search warrant results and search warrant probably cause statements; motions, memorandums, and court orders mostly relating to Misook’s 13 hour interrogation and confession; and more, that we have obtained from the court’s COMMON LAW RECORDS (McLean County Case Number 20110CF0800).
Also present in this 2011/2012 murder case file are some of the raw investigative reports relating to Misook’s 1998 domestic violence arrest/conviction resulting from her attack(s) against her daughter, Michelle (Case Number 98CF962). In these pages were a number of references to Christina’s murder, since these two 1998 child attacks were so obviously related having occurred just months from one another with Christina’s murder pre-dating the violent attack by Misook inflicted upon her daughter Michelle for which she was later convicted of.
Between the news reports and the court records, it is fair to conclude that Misook’s murder of Wenlan Tyda was as highly premeditated and elaborately plotted in great cunning detail as was the murder of Christina 13 years prior. Some evidence suggests that, in addition to ‘settling a score’ against her husband’s mother, as with Christina’s murder, Misook’s intent was to frame husband Don Wang for his own mother’s murder by arranging for him to the be the last person to see his mother alive and in her presence with the victim’s car being returned to the Chicago area and the body buried there so that it be in the vicinity of where her husband was last located. Below is a timeline of events relating to Misook’s murder of her husband’s mother, though this story is continuing to unfold as more facts and circumstances are revealed.11 Sep 15th Chicago Tribune Article – Prosecutors say woman lured mother
CHAPTER XX – MISOOK NOWLIN/MISOOK WANG AS SERIAL KILLER—The Murder of Husband Don Wang’s Mother
As with Christina’s murder, the origins of the murder of Wenlan Tyda stem from the hostilities between Misook and her husband and not between Misook and her mother-in-law as one may assume. However, it relates both to Don Wang checking on Misook and his intent to divorce her. Misook’s primary nemesis was husband, Don, not his mother; whose murder would only serve to enact revenge upon Don himself, either by virtue of killing his dearest loved one, or like Barton, by Misook’s possible greater motive to successfully frame Don for his mother’s murder. To be sure, Misook’s scheme is elaborate and highly premeditated and reflects on how much easier it would have been with similar premeditated plotting to have murdered her estranged boyfriend’s daughter, Christina McNeil, in 1998 for the purpose of setting up her then domestic nemesis , Barton McNeil. Drawing from news reports and court records, here is what we have been able to discern so far:
All of the dates refer to the year of 2011.
In July, Misook was arrested and charged with two felony thefts of some expensive merchandise from a local department store.
Although she sat in jail for approximately four days, her husband, Don Wang did not post her bail such was their relationship.
On or about September 1st, Misook storms into Don’s place of employment, The Imperial Buffet restaurant in Bloomington Illinois, and creates a scene with the intent of getting her husband, Don Wang, fired. Don is indeed fired pending the resolution of his “personal affairs”.
On or about September 2nd Misook drives 60 miles to the home of Don’s mother, Wenlan Tyda, to confront her, apparently according to news reports about meddling in Misook’s domestic life on behalf of her son. Only when Larry Tyda, the spouse of Wenlan Tyda, threatens to call the Police, did Misook leave.
Apparently, also on this same day, Misook’s murderous plotting is already in high gear, If not has long been in the plotting stages for some days or weeks before. To this end, Misook is able to make ‘travel plans’ for Don Wang to take a flight from Chicago to California. Set to depart the very next day, Misook correctly calculates (or arranges) that his mother, Wenlan Tyda will drive Don from Bloomington to the Chicago airport.
In the meantime, also on September 3rd, Misook schemes to lure Tyda back down to Bloomington after Tyda had dropped off her son at the Chicago airport. As per Misook’s murderous designs, Tyda, who works as an independent contractor providing professional Chinese translation services, will soon be arriving into Bloomington on the very early morning hours on Labor Day.
News reports state that Misook drove to a local Chinese restaurant earlier in the evening and paid a Chinese speaking restaurant hostess $20 to phone Tyda and speaking in Chinese, to request Tyda’s translation services to provide a fictitiously created student with a ride from Bloomington to Chicago, in exchange for $500. Apparently, Tyda provided such services in the past. So Tyda makes arrangements to pick up this Chinese-speaking phantom ride ‘needer’ at a Cubs Food parking lot located in Bloomington at 5:30AM on Labor Day, which is a parking lot located just blocks from a sewing supply business owned by Misook called Kim’s Sewing. Tyda is unaware that this late night ride ‘needer’ is Misook’s devious creation, and that Tyda is being set up by Misook’s elaborate ruse that will soon after culminate in her death.
Arriving at the Bloomington grocery store parking lot, video shows Tyda waited for the appearance of the Chinese-speaking ride needer, unaware of the mortal danger about to occur to her instead. Parking lot security camera videos record Misook’s car pulling into the parking lot near to Tyda’s own car. A quarrel between the two women ensues with Linda making her way eventually to Misook’s Sewing Shop nearby as previously Misook had taken $9,000 out of a bank account Linda had, whereupon she had given signature authority to her son Don and to Misook, and Misook had enticed Linda to come to her place of business so that she could pay her $3,000 of this money back, along with the $500 that she had duped Linda to come down to Bloomington for in the first place. At least this is Misook’s explanation in Court as to how she got Linda to leave the Cubs Parking lot and to go to Misook’s place of business where she was struck at least two times with a rubber mallet or other blunt object and strangled to death.
Immediately following the murder of Misook’s mother-in-law, Wenlan Linda Tyda, Misook takes Tyda’s car and drives it to Midway Airport. As then when the car is found it will be as though she was able to pick up her fare paying ride and something happened on the way to Chicago with her car ending up at Midway Airport and the unknown perpetrator having gotten away.
Misook is accompanied on this trip with her six year old son Donovan. They both then take a return bus back to Bloomington and from the Bloomington bus station take a cab to Misook’s workplace Kim’s Sewing where her car was located. The following day, Tuesday, Misook must now dispose of her mother-in-law’s body kept in her place of business that is now beginning to stink (as per Misook’s confession).
So that day purchases a 50 gallon plastic tub from Lowe’s along with a dolly with wheels, places Linda’s body in it, having to break her neck in order to get the 70 year old body to fit, tapes it up, and has a friend that is dropping off some clothes to be mended, to help her lift the 50 gallon tub into the back of Misook’s Mercedes Benz SUV. The friend asked why the rubber tub is so heavy and is informed by Misook that it was full of glassware. With six year old son Donovan again along for the ride, as Misook intends to use her son as a cover for when she is later questioned by police (as in how could I have possibly been involved in my mother-in-law’s murder when I had custody of my son all this time?), they both head for yet another trip to Chicago in order to bury what is to Donovan “Grandma”. Donovan later is interviewed by police and is asked what he thought was going on and he stated that he understood Grandma to be in the 50 gallon tub as “hiding”.
A Prison informant later testifies at the trial that such was Misook’s anger that she went to Chicago, with body in her car, to find the woman that she believed her husband was having an affair with and planned to bludgeon her over the head with a rubber mallet. Not able to find this person, after midnight Misook went in search of a wooded area in which to bury her mother-in-law in a shallow grave.
She returns to Bloomington with Donovan and goes about her normal business awaiting her husband’s return as he had been in California renewing a Driver’s License so that he could continue to collect Unemployment Benefits never-mind-the-fact he lived full time in Bloomington, Illinois.
Rather than promptly disposing of or hiding Tyda’s body in a simple manner of a minimally risky nearby gravesite, Misook instead transports the body 60 miles away near to Tyda’s own Crest Hill Joliet area home in a wildlife park in Will County. This shallow gravesite was not terribly far from the above Chicago airport where the car was also left. And for her final burial Tyda’s body is made nude. Here again Misook appears to be staging evidence away from where the actual kidnapping and murder took place in order to corroborate a set of circumstances that Misook herself created and staged earlier as a part of her crafty progression of plot/staging sequences. So whether or not she intended the body buried in a shallow grave to be found or not, Misook made it so that it would appear that Tyda’s murder was committed in the Joliet area versus Bloomington far away from where Misook lives. And that whoever the killer was undressed the victim prior to burial.
In another macabre parallel to Christina’s murder, Barton has long suspected that the parents of Michelle Nowlin forced her involvement in the murder of her recent acting step-sister of three years, Christina McNeil, so too did Misook more recently involve her six year old son in the murder of his grandmother. At a minimum, Misook forced her son to accompany her to her grizzly burial of Tyda’s body. In the State’s Motion of Limine when asking the Misooks’ (then) 5 year old son about Grandma, he said that she “was hiding” in the 50 gallon Rubbermaid Tote Misook purchased in order to take her body to its final resting place.
Eventually, Misook was interrogated at length about her mother-in-law’s disappearance/murder resulting in Misook’s confession, after which she took investigators to Tyda’s gravesite. During this confession Misook volunteered to bring up the fact that she was a suspect in the Christina McNeil murder but have been denied repeated FOIA requests to get a copy of the confession transcript due to Misook being in the process of appealing her conviction.
Finally, the many explicit connections and symbolic parallels between Christina’s 1998 murder and Misook’s more recent murder of her mother-in-law cannot be dismissed as a result of unrelated overlapping coincidences. In all certainty, the person responsible for the 1998 murder of the daughter of Misook’s estranged boyfriend on the immediate heals of their bitter breakup, is the same person responsible for the 2011 murder of the mother of Misook’s two-timing divorce-seeking soon-to-be third ex-husband. Anyone who believes that Misook did in fact murder Wenlan Tyda, must also concur that Misook Nowlin also murdered Christina McNeil, largely for quite similar motives, years earlier.
The reader should also consider that the elaborateness of the Tyda murder plot and its many staged circumstances and planted evidence demonstrate that Misook has long been highly capable of committing murders, framing intended domestic scapegoats, and getting clean away with it when far less sophistication is necessary. Misook’s high degree of expertise could only have resulted from a life-long compulsion to murder and from the experience of some prior murder(s) that she previously never got caught for. No doubt Christina’s murder contributed to Misook’s apparent extraordinary level of experience she later applied to the intricate Tyda murder plot, and were Christina’s murder the only ‘school of death’ Misook had previously graduated from, thus still qualifies Misook as being an outright female serial killer. Studies have found that women serial killers usually kill due to jealousy and both of these murders fit this to a tee. With Barton, Misook was extremely jealous of Bart’s devotion to his daughter Christina. With the Tyda murder, Misook was extremely jealous of her husband Don’s infidelities he was having with Linda’s personal assistant. She felt that far too often Linda Tyda took Don’s side and was meddling in their affairs. By getting rid of Linda she would be breaking her husband’s heart all at the same time. She also felt that she would be entitled to share in some of her life insurance money that amounted to a paltry $100,000 sum of which Don was only entitled to $70,000.
By comparison to the staged circumstances needed to succeed in her plot to murder Wenlan Linda Tyda, those needed to succeed in her plot to murder Christina McNeil would have been far simpler which Misook could have accomplished alone, but would be that much easily done if she happened to have the aid of an accomplice or two. Had the highly capable and cunning Misook devoted a fraction of the expertise and effort she applied to the Wenlan Linda Tyda murder, to the 1998 murder of Barton’s daughter, she could have easily accomplished the comparatively much simpler twin goals of both killing the daughter of Misook’s arch-enemy ex-boyfriend Barton, and in doing so, was able to stage the manner of Christina’s death in order to guarantee that his child’s murder wrongfully fell upon her father’s shoulders. Misook’s vengeful needs relative to Christina’s murder was not just the mere murder of an arch rival to Barton’s attention that was Christina herself, but also the infliction of a lifelong sadness upon Christina’s mother, that was Misook’s other long time nemesis. And was further with Misook’s intent, in addition to the lifelong sadness inflicted upon Christina’s father, Misook could revel in the knowledge that she also facilitated Barton’s own slow death via prison—a death of a thousand knives to be sure, compounded by Misook’s discovery that Barton himself eventually became aware that he had been intentionally framed by Misook’s vengeful plot for which she got away with.
Below are a series of recent news stories now that Misook has been convicted and Barton’s attorneys are working on his release. The first step was to have a judge in McLean County assigned to the case to agree to a hearing so that Barton’s attorneys could present the argument that evidence that was not DNA tested in 1998 should now be tested using state-of-the-art testing techniques that include touch DNA. This hearing was held on August 1st, 2014 with the original Petition filed in November, 2013. The judge ruled almost entirely in favor of the Illinois Innocence Project’s wishes on August 26th, 2014, with all of the agreed upon evidence, that includes the window itself, a latent fingerprint lifted from the window sill, stained clothing from the victim, a pillowcase and bed sheet, currently being sent to Orchid Cellmark, a company that specializes in DNA testing, located in Dallas Texas. The DNA test results should be completed within the next six months, and Barton’s further appeals to be heard in 2015 requesting a New Trial for which he most assuredly deserves.
Thank you for taking the time to read this summary of the true story of these multiple ongoing injustices. For whatever slight effort you may be willing to make, if not on behalf of Christina’s innocent father, then on behalf of the innocent Christina herself, long denied any semblance of justice long due her; and, on behalf of the innocent Wendlan Tyda who has paid the ultimate and unnecessary high price in blood for the injustices of 1998 and 2011, our family and Barton thanks you in advance.
How to contribute money such as $10 to Barton’s prison account, so that he can purchase e-mail credits, phone credits, snacks, an occasional soda and toiletry items, can be found on this website under the tab “Donations”. THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING!
For a progression of ongoing related events, see the evolving news reports archive below and please also check the FreeBart Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FreeBart .
July 30th, 2017, news reporter Edith Brady Lunny of the local Bloomington area newspaper The Pantagraph wrote about Barton’s case and a recent visit she had with him at Menard Correctional Facility. Pantagraph Article 7-30-2017
NEWS LEADING UP TO AND IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING AUGUST 1ST, 2014 DNA HEARING:
July 31st, 2014 NBC news piece immediately preceding August 1st schedule hearing. Barton was interviewed by the NBC news reporter at Menard Prison earlier in the week: http://www.cinewsnow.com/news/local/Convicted-child-killer-maintains-innocence–says-surfacing-evidence-points-elsewhere-269488261.html
August 1st, 2014 follow up to the
prior night’s story NBC news piece immediately following McLean County DNA
NEWS RELATING TO AUGUST 26TH, 2014 JUDGE’S DECISION REGARDING DNA TESTING:
Here is an NBC news piece that aired
last night, August 27th, 2014, relating to the judge’s decision.
and CBS News did two reports, one on the day the announcement was made and one last night:
AND FINALLY August 27th, 2017 news
At present the combined forces of The Illinois Innocence Project and the Exoneration Project are prepariong a Motion to Vacate Barton’s sentence that will reference all items that constitute New Evidence that had this evidence been known and presented at the time of his trial, would not have led to a guilty sentence, and would rather have become the basis in which the true murdered of Christina McNeil be charged. Thanks for reading!
Interview with Barton McNeil cousin Chris Ross on WJBC radio.
Written and edited by Barton McNeil, Chris Ross, Grace Schlafer, Jeanne Ross. All images, audio recordings, and videos contained are copyrighted and protected under United States copyright laws © 2012, © 2013, © 2014 © 2015 © 2016 © 2017 © 2018 © 2019 © 2020 © 2021