FreeBart A COMPELLING STORY ABOUT A WRONGFUL CONVICTION AND JUSTICE LEFT UNDONE

5May/120

Illinois Innocence Project Takes 1998 Barton McNeil Murder Case

 

Illinois Innocence Project takes 1998 murder case

 

 

By: Ryan Denham  |  Yesterday

 

Barton McNeil and Misook WangBarton McNeil, left, and Misook Wang. (Photos courtesy of the Illinois Department of Corrections and McLean County sheriff's department)

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Innocence Project is taking on a 1998 Bloomington homicide, hoping to exonerate convicted murderer Barton McNeil and expecting to get some help from new DNA evidence testing.

The Illinois Innocence Project is “in with both feet, in terms of giving this a thorough, thorough review,” said IIP Legal Director John Hanlon, who recently visited McNeil in prison. A “professional” referred the case to the IIP, but Hanlon declined to say who or describe their occupation.

“This was not a cold letter from Mr. McNeil,” he told WJBC on Friday. “This was from another professional who believed firmly that Mr. McNeil is innocent of this crime and wanted our assistance.”

McNeil was convicted of smothering his 3-year-old daughter, Christina. He’s now serving a life sentence in prison but has long maintained that his then-estranged girlfriend, Misook Nowlin, broke into his Bloomington apartment and killed Christina while he slept.

But Nowlin, now known as Misook Wang, was arrested last fall and charged with staging an elaborate plot to lure her 70-year-old mother-in-law, Wenlan “Linda” Tyda, into traveling to the Twin Cities, where she was strangled. Tyda’s body was later dumped in a forest preserve near her home in the Joliet area.

That connection was enough to prompt a second look at the 1998 case by police and the McLean County state’s attorney’s office. Detectives traveled to interview McNeil at Menard Correctional Center but later announced there were no new leads to pursue.

Seeking more documents

WJBC’s news partners, WMBD 31, first reported in February that IIP was reviewing the case. The IIP team includes Hanlon, an outside investigator, numerous law-school students, undergraduate students and Project staffers, according to Hanlon.

“Getting to this case is a long process,” Hanlon said Friday. “There is a ton of paper, and there’s more that I know we’re gonna be seeking.”

The IIP has received around 1,000 case referrals in its history, and the pace of those referrals is only accelerating this year, Hanlon said. Part of what elevated the IIP’s interest in McNeil’s case is that it was referred by “another professional,” Hanlon said.

“What we’re finding is that, not always, but very often some of the best referrals that come to us come from other professionals,” Hanlon said.

Hanlon’s specialty is DNA cases. Ultimately, the goal in such cases is to file a new motion for DNA testing on certain evidence, Hanlon said. Generally speaking, DNA evidence exists in only about 10 percent of serious criminal felony cases, he said.

“But we think it exists here,” he said. (If DNA testing is not possible, another IIP lawyer specializing in investigations would then likely get the case, Hanlon said.)

The public defender’s office is aware of Wang’s connection to the McNeil case and requested an audio copy of McNeil’s interview with WJBC in October.

McNeil and Christina’s mother were divorced when she was killed. Police and prosecutors said during McNeil’s trial that no one else could have killed Christina because there were no signs of forced entry. A pathologist also testified there was evidence Christina had been sexually abused – a possible motive.

McNeil told police in 1998 that he believed Nowlin was responsible, according to court records, including a letter from McNeil to a Bloomington detective.

Ryan Denham can be reached at ryan@wjbc.com.

6Apr/120

McNeil Supporters Rally around His Innocence, Ex-Girlfriend Court Date Set – April 6 2012

McNeil Supporters Rally around His Innocence, Ex-Girlfriend Court Date Set

By: Kim Behrens
Updated: April 6, 2012

 

 

 

BLOOMINGTON--Supporters of convicted murderer Barton McNeil say he's one step closer to proving his innocence.

McNeil is convicted of smothering his three year old daughter to death in 1998 and is now serving a life sentence in prison.

But he says the killer is his ex-girlfriend Misook Wang.

Last fall Wang was charged with killing her mother in law.

Supporters believe Wang retaliated against McNeil and her ex-husband for ending relationships with her.

Last month detectives revisited McNeil's case and found no new evidence to support that theory.

But supporters say the Downstate Innocence Project is changing that.

"They're meeting with Bart at Menard prison and they're going over the case," said McNeil's friend Chuck Nicholson.  "Also, the DNA lawyer that they have, he's going to be retesting the DNA and also a new test on the sheets that wasn't tested to begin with."

Wang appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing today.

Her next court date is set for May 30th.

 

http://centralillinoisproud.com/fulltext?nxd_id=238472

4Apr/120

Detectives Revisit Convicted Murder’s, 14 March 2012

Posted on CiPROUD internet news.

Detectives Revisit Convicted Murder's Case, Info Still Supports Verdict

By: Kim Behrens
Updated: March 14, 2012
watch video

BLOOMINGTON--Despite a recent attempt by Bloomington police detectives to revisit the case of convicted murderer Barton McNeil, there's no new evidence that would support his innocence.

McNeil is convicted of smothering his three year old daughter in 1998.

He's now serving a life sentence in prison.

McNeil maintains it was his "then" girlfriend, Misook Wang who killed his daughter.

Last fall Wang was charged with killing her mother in law.

Police say that information was enough to give McNeil's case a second look.

But the information still supports his verdict.

"We've contacted some of his supporters back here in the Bloomington area," said Bloomington Police Public Information Officer Dave White.  "Some interviews were conducted with them and based on that information, still there's no new leads to go on at this time."

McNeil is also seeking help from the Downstate Innocence Project based at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

 

1Apr/120

Prosecutors say woman lured, Andy Grimm

 

Prosecutors say woman lured mother-in-law to her death

Bloomington woman details scheme to police

September 15, 2011|By Andy Grimm, Tribune reporter

Prosecutors say a Bloomington woman carefully plotted the murder of her 70-year-old mother-in-law, luring the Crest Hill woman to a predawn meeting, killing her and hiding the body in a Will County nature preserve.

Misook Wang, 45, faces several counts of murder and concealing a homicide in the slaying of Wenlan "Linda" Tyda, whose body was found Tuesday in a shallow grave in the Des Plaines Fish And Wildlife Area in south suburban Wilmington Township, McLean County, prosecutors said.

A Chinese interpreter, Tyda had been missing since Sept. 4, when she left her home in Crest Hill around 3 a.m. to pick up a client in Bloomington and drive her to a Chinese school in Chicago, prosecutors said.

Tyda's husband, Larry, called Crest Hill police when his wife hadn't returned home that evening.

Prosecutors say Wang confessed to paying a Chinese-speaking restaurant hostess to call Tyda posing as a client and set up a meeting at a Bloomington grocery store parking lot.

When first interviewed by police earlier this week, Wang told police she and Tyda argued in the parking lot and parted ways, and she hadn't seen her mother-in-law since. When police told her they had found Tyda's clothing and shredded identification cards in a Dumpster behind Wang's house, she said Tyda followed her to a sewing shop Wang owned.

Wang claimed the septuagenarian attacked her and tried to kill her, but Wang said she wound up on top of her mother-in law and choked her with both hands for five to 10 minutes.

She then dragged the older woman inside the shop and left her gasping on the floor. As Tyda slowly died, Wang said she lay on an office couch, exhausted from the struggle. She told investigators she then hid Tyda's body in a back corner of the shop, abandoned Tyda's car at Midway Airport and took a bus back to Bloomington.

On Sept. 6, Wang stuffed Tyda's body into a storage container and drove with it to the Des Plaines Fish and Wildlife Area in Will County, just outside Wilmington. She buried Tyda in a wooded area near New River Road. She agreed to take investigators to find the body.

Larry Tyda said Wang continued living with Linda's son and their 5-year-old until she was taken into police custody. The child rode with Wang as she drove to bury Tyda's body, said Larry Tyda.

"She acted like nothing had happened," Tyda said Wednesday from his home in Crest Hill.

Three days before his wife disappeared, Tyda said, Wang had angrily confronted her at the couple's home in Crest Hill and wouldn't leave until he threatened to call police. Linda Tyda's son, Don, had told Wang he wanted a divorce, and Wang was outraged, he said.

"She was abusive. She was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I had heard she could get mean, but I never believed she was capable of something like this," Tyda said. "She wanted to hurt (her husband). … She planned this all out to a T."

Linda Tyda counted the Chinese consulate and numerous Chicago law firms among her clients, her husband said. She had lived in Bloomington for some 20 years before moving to the Chicago area, and made frequent trips back for work and to visit family, Tyda said.

The Tydas married eight months ago, a year after they met on a dating website, Tyda said. They were planning a trip to Linda's native China later this month to meet her family and to renew their vows in a traditional Chinese ceremony, Tyda said.

An autopsy completed Tuesday in Will County showed Tyda had been strangled, but positive identification was still pending because of "significant decomposition," the coroner's office said. Wang is being held in McLean County in lieu of $1 million bail.

"(Linda) was all excited to go," Tyda said. "There are people that are monsters that are out there."

 


 

30Mar/120

Important Video from Downstate Illinois Innocence Project

 

The University of Illinois Springfield's Downstate Illinois Innocence Project with the support of the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership has been awarded a $687,448 grant to clear downstate Illinois innocence cases where DNA testing might decide the outcome.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duvv5Extpoc

 

 

18Mar/120

WJBC Interview with Chris Ross March 16 2012

http://wjbc.com/detectives-make-prison-visit-in-1998-murder-case/

 

Listen to the live interview on WJBC with Christopher Ross, Barton McNeil's cousin, and Beth Whisman.

18Mar/120

WJBC March 2012 Detectives Make Prison Visit

http://wjbc.com/detectives-make-prison-visit-in-1998-murder-case/

By: Ryan Denham | 4 days ago

 

Barton McNeil and Misook WangBarton McNeil, left, was convicted of killing his 3-year-old daughter in 1998. He has long said Misook Wang, right, his ex-girlfriend, was responsible for the girl's death. (Photos courtesy of Illinois Department of Corrections, McLean County Sheriff's Department)

BLOOMINGTON – Two Bloomington detectives recently visited convicted murderer Barton McNeil in state prison, but there’s no new evidence that anyone else killed his daughter in 1998, police said Tuesday.

McNeil was convicted of smothering his 3-year-old daughter, Christina. He’s now serving a life sentence in prison but has long maintained that his then-estranged girlfriend, Misook Nowlin, broke into his Bloomington apartment and killed Christina while he slept. Investigators never believed that theory.

But Nowlin, now known as Misook Wang, was arrested last fall and charged with staging an elaborate plot to lure her 70-year-old mother-in-law, Wenlan “Linda” Tyda, into traveling to the Twin Cities, where she was strangled. Tyda’s body was later dumped in a forest preserve near her home in the Joliet area.

That connection was enough to prompt a second look at the 1998 case by police and the McLean County state’s attorney’s office. Detectives recently traveled to interview McNeil at Menard Correctional Center, police spokesman Dave White said.

“Mr. McNeil did not have any new information that would require additional follow up,” White said. “Mr. McNeil did offer one new theory, that it was Misook or her ex-husband (who) brought their daughter to (kill Christina). She would have been about 8 years old at the time.”

“The case was reviewed and we found the information supports the verdict in Barton McNeil’s case,” White added. “Detectives have spoken with Mr. McNeil and supporters. Following those discussions some follow-up interviews were conducted, but there are no new leads to pursue at this time.”

McLean County First Assistant State’s Attorney Jane Foster said she hasn’t been briefed yet on the prison visit. (Foster, a Republican candidate for McLean County state’s attorney, is on a four-week leave ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.)

“No new information has been given to me to review at this point, so I haven’t done any type of additional review from what I did a few months ago,” Foster said Tuesday. She’s said her initial review found nothing that ties Misook Wang to the 1998 murder.

McNeil said he’s looking for legal assistance to file a new appeal. WMBD 31 reported in February that the Downstate Innocence Project, based at the University of Illinois at Springfield, was reviewing McNeil’s case and would potentially take it on.

McNeil’s cousin Chris Ross spoke with WJBC’s Beth Whisman about McNeil’s supporters and their efforts to appeal his conviction. They have started the websiteFreeBart.orgto try and gain public support for his case.


 

 

13Mar/120

Barton McNeil Radio interview with Beth Whisman

Click below to listen to the phone call:

http://wjbc.com/convicted-murderer-says-he-has-new-hope-after-exs-murder-arrest-audio/