Barnett, Richard R. – Grangeville, Idaho 1982

On August 31, 1982, two-year old Richard “Ricky” Barnett went missing from Hillcrest Farms, located outside of Grangeville, Idaho. Richard was sitting on a hay wagon, while workers unloaded chickens and farm work ran as usual. When Richard was discovered missing, extensive ground searches resulted in no clues.  The little boy had been staying at the farm with his father while his mother was in another part of Idaho.  Richard’s grandparents, Waldo and Martha McChoard, were considered suspects at one time in his disappearance. The video and reading below offer more information on his disappearance.

Contact the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office if you have information about this case.

Famous Idaho County cold case warms up, but cools again

By JODI WALKER of the Tribune

GRANGEVILLE — The boxes filled with all the information surrounding the disappearance of a boy nearly 24 years ago near Grangeville will go back into storage.

DNA testing of a man who thought he might be Ricky Barnett came back negative, said Detective Joan Renshaw of the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office.

The career case for Renshaw has resurfaced repeatedly over the years, sometimes leading to more investigation and most recently to the actual testing of Barnett’s parents’ DNA and that of a man from North Dakota.

The man was the second to notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children since February, claiming to be Barnett. The first contact — from a man in Florida — was quickly ruled out, Renshaw said.

“It seemed like he had a grudge against his parents and didn’t want to believe they were his parents.”

The second, Renshaw said, was far more viable.

“There was a definite likeness,” she said, comparing childhood photos of Barnett, which show his black hair and baby face, to that of the North Dakota man. The man had contacted the Center for Missing and Exploited Children through its Web site. The information was sent on to Idaho County.

In March the Center for Missing and Exploited Children granted the request for DNA testing, an expensive process the county could not afford. The center footed the bill.

“I was in contact with the family weekly,” Renshaw said. It was a grueling wait for the results, which were recently returned to the county.

Both parents live in Oregon. Barnett’s mother has been relentless in her search for her missing son, Renshaw said.

“She wants to go on Montel or one of those shows and plead her case. It has been just a nightmare for her.”

Barnett disappeared from a chicken farm on which his grandparents worked, north of Grangeville, in 1982. He was 2 years old.

Rumors swirled at the time about the case, the pond on the property was drained and suspicions lingered for years on the grandparents.

In 2001 Renshaw and Skott Mealer, also of the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, traveled to Hawaii to polygraph Martha McCoard, Barnett’s grandmother. The grandfather, Waldo, died just prior to the visit and the two officers hoped it would prompt the grandmother to tell what she knew. She passed the polygraph and was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case. She has since moved back to the mainland, Renshaw said.

“I think she has been able to live a more productive life now,” she said.

As Renshaw slipped the lid on one of the boxes in the stack Monday, she sighed.

“I so hoped it was him.”

View his NamUs record

FURTHER READING

Unsolved: Murders that Remain Mysteries 

Barnett
1982 Barnett
1982 Barnett 2