GLT is partnering with true crime podcast Suspect Convictions to explore the 1998 murder of 3-year-old Bloomington girl Christina McNeil.
Her father was convicted of the crime but has long maintained his innocence, claiming an ex-girlfriend was the real killer—the same woman later convicted in a separate murder. New episodes air Fridays on GLT’s Sound Ideas. You can also subscribe to the podcast.
The bed in which Christina McNeil was murdered was later purchased at a thrift store by the same woman who the girl’s father says killed her.
That is one of the revelations in this week’s episode of Suspect Convictions. After Barton McNeil was arrested and ultimately convicted of the murder, his brother donated the bed to The Salvation Army. Misook (Nowlin) Wang was doing community service at The Salvation Army at that time, related to a domestic abuse case against her. Wang bought the bed and gave it to her own daughter to sleep on, Suspect Convictions host Scott Reeder has learned.
Reeder and Suspect Convictions co-host Willis Kern are joined on this week’s episode by Shira Weiss, a true-crime writer for the Huffington Post, and Kari Martin, co-host of the White Wine True Crime podcast.
It’s unclear why Wang purchased by the bed. McNeil was convicted of killing his own daughter. Wang was never charged in the case. Thirteen years later, Wang was convicted of murdering her mother-in-law, a separate case but one that McNeil’s lawyers say bears a resemblance to Christina’s death. Wang has denied involvement in Christina’s death. She’s serving her own prison sentence in Lincoln.
Martin called the bed purchase an “eerie coincidence.”
“If you’re a psychotic, and it sounds like she has those traits, I think one of the reasons she bought it is as a trophy,” Martin said. “They say some people who murder, they look for trophies, because they want to relive their crime—and I’m just throwing this out as speculation.”
Lawyers with the Illinois Innocence Project are expected to file motions soon in hopes of winning McNeil a new trial and, ultimately, his freedom. They say advances in forensic science—especially Touch DNA, a relatively new method using very small samples—will prove that Wang was with Christina in her bed the night she was killed, hours after Wang and McNeil broke up.
“Our results indicate Misook was all over the bedsheets, the pillowcase, and her hairs were on the pillow where Christina was found dead,” said Gwen Jordan with the Illinois Innocence Project.
Weiss and Martin agreed that from what they’ve heard so far about the DNA evidence, it doesn’t necessarily point to exoneration.
“Bart will need more than just this DNA evidence to have an exoneration,” Martin said. “Once you’re convicted in a court of law, it’s so unbelievably hard to overturn.”
“I think his chances of ever getting out are slim,” she added.
Listen to Episode 12:
On Next Week’s Episode: Who is Barton McNeil? The Suspect Convictions team interviews those who knew McNeil in central Illinois prior to his incarceration.
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