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Suspect Convictions Episode 4: True-Crime Experts Give Case Fresh Look

Aphrodite Jones and Bob Ruff
Fellow true-crime podcasters Aphrodite Jones and Bob Ruff join Suspect Convictions to discuss the Christina McNeil case.

GLT is partnering with the 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.

On this week’s episode of Suspect Convictions, our reporters expand their storytelling to include new perspective from two expert true-crime investigators who have their own questions about the case.

"It speaks to a pathological mind. The mind of a killer."

Suspect Convictions reporters Scott Reeder and Willis Kern pause their own reporting to discuss the first three episodes with Aphrodite Jones and Bob Ruff. Those first three episodes covered the discovery of Christina McNeil’s body in 1998, the prosecution’s case against her father Barton and an explanation from Barton’s attorneys at the Illinois Innocence Project about why they think he’s innocent.

Jones is a best-selling true crime author and journalist who is launching her own podcast. Her reality crime TV series, “True Crime with Aphrodite Jones,” aired on Investigation Discovery for six seasons. Ruff is the host of the Truth & Justice podcast, which investigates cold case injustices.

Jones is buying into McNeil’s alternate theory of the crime—that it was his ex-girlfriend Misook (Wang) Nowlin who was the real killer, motivated in part by their breakup around the time of the murder. That theory has taken on new resonance after Nowlin was convicted in 2012 of killing her mother-in-law. Nowlin is currently serving a 55-year prison sentence. She could not be reached for comment.

Jones said Nowlin went to “outrageous lengths” to orchestrate and conceal that murder, including moving her mother-in-law’s body from Bloomington to a shallow grave in Will County.

“It speaks to a pathological mind,” Jones said. “The mind of a killer. And everything about that case—including the fact that she took steps to cover it up—all harken back to the murder of Christina McNeil.”

Also new this week: Do you have a question for Barton McNeil? Send it to us via askbart@suspectconvictions.com, and we’ll ask your question during our next phone interview with him. He’s currently serving a 150-year prison sentence at a southern Illinois prison.

Listen to Episode 4 of Suspect Convictions:

On Next Week’s Episode: A closer look at Misook (Wang) Nowlin’s background, including a conversation with one of her ex-husbands.

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Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.