The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Where is she now?

Natalia Grace on Dr. PhilCBS

Here’s what you need to know about The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, including where to stream the documentary series, what the case is about, where Natalia Grace is now, what Freddie Gill said about Michael Barnett, and more.

The case of Natalia Grace truly is stranger than fiction, and one that remains murky to this day. Ultimately, it boils down to two conflicting accounts: one side claims she is an exploited Ukrainian child who was abandoned by her adoptive family, while the other claims she is a dangerous psychopath who masqueraded as a child to exploit her guardians. 

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Although the unusual scandal started back in 2010, with the woman at the center of it appearing on Dr. Phil in 2019, a recently released docu-series titled The Curious Case of Natalia Grace has sparked renewed interest from viewers across the globe as it tracks a court case that generates even more questions.

So, if you’re looking for a rundown of the case, here’s everything you need to know about it, including what happened to Natalia and her adoptive parents Michael and Kristine Barnett, where she is now, and where to watch the series. Warning: Spoilers ahead, and some may find this content distressing.

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What is The Curious Case of Natalia Grace about?

The docu-series examines the case of Natalia Grace and the Barnetts, which contains elements that seem to be taken right out of a movie plot. It started in 2010, when Natalia, of Ukrainian origin, was adopted by American couple Michael and Kristine Barnett.

Starting off with Michael’s side of the story, he describes how their family believed that Natalia was a six-year-old child with a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDc). The Barnetts were said to be happy to welcome the little girl into their lives, already having experience with children with special needs, including their son Jacob, a child prodigy diagnosed with autism.

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As time went on, the Barnetts started having doubts about Natalia’s age, claiming that they discovered she had full pubic hair and a period. Their suspicions grew when they organized a playdate with another six-year-old girl with SEDc, only to realize Natalia looked older than her. 

But these concerns were nothing compared to the troubling behavior that Natalia began to exhibit, according to Michael’s accusations. He claims she began threatening to kill them, and that he woke up in the night with her standing at the foot of their bed holding a knife. He also alleges that she defecated purposely to upset Jacob, tried to get their sons run over, and attempted to poison Kristine before dragging her into an electric fence. 

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After taking her to numerous therapists, Michael reportedly received a psychopathy diagnosis for Natalia. In 2012, the family sought and successfully received a court order to change Natalia’s age from eight to 22 years old based on various analyses.

While this meant the Barnetts were no longer legally obligated to financially support her, they rented Natalia an apartment nearby, with her neighbors stepping in to help. But the neighbors started to raise concerns about Natalia’s behavior, and she even called 911 on herself and admitted to stalking one of the residents. 

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The family then moved her to another apartment in Lafayette, Indiana, before relocating to Canada for their son’s education. This has proven to be one of the most contentious points in the whole story, as many criticize the Barnetts for abandoning a vulnerable person.

Michael and Kristine BarnettDiscovery+
Michael and Kristine Barnett

In 2019, legal actions were pursued against the couple, who were charged with neglect of a dependent. At the time, public opinion remained divided — some sided with the Barnetts, convinced by their claims about Natalia’s age, while others sympathized with Natalia, viewing her as a victim of abandonment. But this is where The Curious Case of Natalia Grace sheds light on the situation while uncovering some shocking accusations against the Barnetts.

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Initially, Michael uses much of his interview time criticizing Natalia. However, he later shifts his focus to his ex-wife, Kristine. The pair went through a bitter divorce, and Michael claims Kristine is a “master manipulator” who used to beat Natalia and make her stand up against a wall for hours at a time while she was under their care in a bid to get her to reveal the truth about her past.

At another moment in the documentary, Jacob alleges that when he was 12 years old, Kristine coerced him into urinating on Natalia’s bed as “revenge” for her doing the same in their home. He expresses deep shame and regret over the incident, suggesting that Natalia’s acting out was likely a result of her behavioral problems, caused by the trauma of being passed from home to home.

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The issue of Natalia’s age also comes into question. While she was legally 22 when the Barnetts moved her out of their house, Anna Gava – who was confirmed to be Natalia’s biological mother after doing a DNA test – claims this is not the case.

“She was born on September 4, 2003,” Gava says in the documentary. “She was born at 6.25am in the Maternity Hospital No. 1. She is my biological daughter.” If this is true, this would mean that Natalia was, in fact, a child when the Barnetts adopted her and left her to live on her own.

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Child or not, many continue to question both Michael and Kristine for leaving a vulnerable person to stay in an apartment and fend for herself, with no assistance or accessibility despite her disability. A number of Natalia’s neighbors, meanwhile, believe she needed care and should not have been abandoned.

Michael BarnettDiscovery+
Michael claims his ex-wife Kristine was abusive

In October 2022, Natalia took Michael to court, although four counts of neglect against him were dismissed after he was found not guilty. She testified in the trial, stating that she did not have the skills to live alone at the time and that she had wanted to live with the Barnetts when they moved her to Lafayette.

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Kristine was also supposed to stand trial in April 2023, with Michael subpoenaed to testify against his ex-wife, but the court dismissed any charges based on Natalia’s age, and the other charges of neglect of a dependant were also dismissed, citing “insufficient evidence.”

Although The Curious Case of Natalia Grace does provide new details on the saga with in-depth interviews from those involved, the truth remains murky to this day, caught in a whirlpool of medical tests, legal loopholes, and shifting narratives. Unfortunately, there are still many unanswered questions, especially with an explosive ending to the series.

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What did Freddie Gill say about Michael Barnett?

Entertainer and former acquaintance of Kristine, Freddie Gill, appears at the end of the series via computer screen, saying: “Kristine told me in a series of messages that Natalia ruined her life and, in so many ways, Kristine basically said that Michael… Natalia started f-.” However, before he can finish his sentence, Michael shuts the laptop and storms off set.

Earlier on in the final episode of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, we’re introduced to Freddie, who explains that he started talking to Kristine on social media when she and Michael first adopted Natalia, as Freddie also has dwarfism and she wanted some advice. However, their messages soon became of a sexual nature, with Freddie showing evidence of their conversations, as well as explicit photos Kristine sent to him.

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Freddie GillDiscovery+
Freddie Gill shares evidence of his messages with Kristine

Shockingly, Kristine then sent a message to Freddie suggesting she wanted to “fix him up on a night out with Natalia.” Freddie didn’t reply, telling the camera: “It gave me shivers to think that anybody would even remotely do that.”

The next scene shows the producers telling Michael: “There’s something else Freddie told us that’s a very serious accusation about you.” Michael agrees to watch the clip, holding the laptop in front of him as Freddie starts to talk. But before he gets to finish his sentence, Michael cuts it off.

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Freddie later assures the producers that he’s going to “do the right thing” and “tell the truth” by speaking in court at Kristine’s trial. However, as discussed, the trial never went ahead.

For now, all we can do is speculate about what Freddie said, although we may get more answers in a follow-up special, titled The Curious Case of Natalia Grace: Natalia Speaks, which is set to drop soon. 

Where is Natalia Grace now?

It’s widely reported that Natalia is still living in Indiana, having been taken in by another couple named Antwon and Cynthia Mans in 2014. In 2019, they appeared on Dr. Phil together where the Mans explained that they hadn’t experienced any troubling behavior from Natalia. 

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While the Mans continue to stand by her, Natalia denies the allegations made against her, stating on Dr. Phil that Kristine had “said that I hid knives on top of the fridge, under the fridge, in the cabinets, even on her office desk,” even though she would have been physically unable to reach many of those places.

We will get to find out more about Natalia’s situation in the Natalia Speaks follow-up documentary. The official synopsis reads: “Natalia shares her side of the story of what happened behind the closed doors of the Barnett family home and addresses allegations raged against her head on. 

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“After years of being cloaked under a gag order due to the subsequent legal proceedings around Michael and Kristine Barnett’s 2019 arrest, Natalia has been unable to tell her story – until now.”

Where to watch The Curious Case of Natalia Grace online

All six episodes of The Curious Case of Natalia Grace are available to stream on Max and Discovery Plus now. You can also stream the series on Amazon Prime Video via the Max or Discovery Plus add-ons.

The Natalia Speaks special is set to drop on Investigation Discovery “later this summer.” We’ll be sure to keep this space updated when an official release date arrives.

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You can sign up to Amazon Prime here, and for more of our documentary coverage, check out the hubs below:

New documentaries & true crime September 2023: Netflix, Hulu, Prime & more | Who are the Duggars? | Victim/Suspect explained | Missing Dead or Alive explained | True story behind The Playing Card Killer | True story behind Take Care of Maya | HBO’s Burden of Proof explained | How to watch David Fuller: Monster in the Morgue | How to watch the Titanic submarine documentary | How to watch the Hart family murders documentary

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