BLOOMINGTON — A man convicted in 1999 of murdering his 3-year-old daughter says the person responsible for the murder is now behind bars facing murder charges in an unrelated case, but prosecutors say they reviewed and rejected the suspect he proposes.
Barton McNeil, who is serving life in prison in Menard Correctional Center, was convicted of smothering Christina McNeil on June 16, 1998.
He maintains his innocence and says the woman responsible is Misook Wang, who was arrested Sept. 14 on three counts of murder and one count of concealment of the homicidal death of her mother-in-law, Wenlan “Linda” Tyda. Her case has not yet gone to trial.
The Downstate Innocence Project is reviewing the case following a request from McNeil, but has made no determination in the case. The institute at the University of Illinois at Springfield investigates and litigates cases for inmates that appear to have been falsely accused of their crimes.
At the time of Christina’s death, Wang was known as Misook Nowlin and was McNeil’s estranged girlfriend.
In a letter to The Pantagraph, McNeil, now 52, said he shared a Bloomington apartment with Wang for three years, but they agreed on June 15, 1998, to separate.
“Long premeditated, though committed on the heels of our final, bitter breakup, driven by a crazed quest for vengeance against me, an insane jealousy of Christina who my affection for Misook had to compete with, and an obsessive hatred of Christina’s mother, who Christina served to link me permanently, during the late-night hours, Misook gained access to Christina through her wide-open ground floor bedroom window and silently killed her,” McNeil wrote.
Wang was questioned during the investigation following the death, said McLean County First Assistant State’s Attorney Jane Foster.
“He raised this issue during his trial and the court found there was no substance to it,” Foster said. “We were also proactive and went back through and looked at the facts of the case just to make sure, but we know the right man is in prison serving his sentence.”
McNeil’s cousin, Grace Schlafer, disagrees that a thorough investigation was done on Wang in 1998 and is in consultation with lawyers separate from the Innocence Project about overturning McNeil’s conviction.
“There were things which just did not get investigated properly during the time of the trial,” she said. “Misook acted out with violence much of the time and did not seem to care if she was in public.”