Woman who kept husband in freezer sues for return of body

1 week 3 hours 49 minutes ago Friday, May 22 2020 May 22, 2020 Friday, May 22, 2020 2:13:00 PM CDT May 22, 2020 in News
By: Juliana Tornabene, KOMU 8 Digital Producer
Courtesy: KY3

LIBERTY — A woman who kept her husband’s body in a freezer in her bedroom at their southwest Missouri home is suing for the return of his remains.

Barbara Watters, 67, of Joplin, was charged in November with abandoning a corpse after police found Paul Barton’s body in the freezer.

A judge dismissed the charge in January, ruling that Watters’ actions did not meet the legal definition of abandonment of a corpse.

Authorities have said the last time anyone saw Barton alive was in 2018 and his body may have been in the freezer for most of 2019, but the lawsuit says Barton died in September 2019, two months before his body was found.

On May 5, Watters sued Joplin police, the city and the Jasper County coroner’s seeking the return of her husband’s body and items the police seized from her home. The lawsuit was transferred to federal court this week.

Watters alleges that Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel has ignored several requests for the return of her husband’s body even after the charges were dismissed and has not provided a death certificate. It says Watters believes she is in danger of losing the body if it is not returned soon.

Watters told The Associated Press in November that she feared doctors wanted to take her husband’s brain for research. Watters told police that her husband suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and they both were concerned doctors wanted to harvest his organs, according to court documents.

The lawsuit also contends the city and police violated Watters’ rights by keeping documents and other items that were seized outside the scope of the search warrant, including the couple’s marriage license and a document giving her the right to determine what happens to her husband’s body.

Chappel on Friday confirmed to The Joplin Globe that Barton’s body is still being kept at his office. He said legal counsel has advised him not to comment on why the body has not been released or why no death certificate has been issued.

The city of Joplin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to the return of property and her husband’s body, Watters is seeking punitive damages for emotional distress and payment of her attorney fees.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA — Love Coffee received a surprise $10,000 donation from the Veterans United Foundation on Tuesday. The nonprofit will use... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 4:37:00 PM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — As state and commercial testing is more available for the Missourians, the number of confirmed cases is rising.... More >>
3 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 3:00:00 PM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - Mid-Missourians marched and held signs in Columbia on Friday morning to bring awareness to police brutality against African... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 1:52:00 PM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
CLARKSBURG, Mo. - Two people were arrested in Clarksburg, Mo., on drug charges after a search on May 21, according... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 1:32:00 PM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minneapolis officer who was seen on video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 12:46:00 PM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s only abortion clinic will be able to keep operating after a state government administrator decided... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 12:38:00 PM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri River is expected to reach moderate flood stage in Jefferson City, Glasgow and Hermann this weekend.... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 11:30:00 AM CDT May 29, 2020 in Weather
As COVID-19 spreads, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about the impacts on the community. You can find... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 6:39:00 AM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA- A student at the West Location of Tiger Tots Academy has tested positive for COVID-19. According to a... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, May 29 2020 May 29, 2020 Friday, May 29, 2020 6:37:00 AM CDT May 29, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – During his daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday, Governor Mike Parson announced an extension of the phase one reopening... More >>
21 hours ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 8:42:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - As Boone County moves into the next phase of reopening, hair salons can now open their doors to... More >>
23 hours ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 6:17:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The City Manager of Columbia announced plans to further cut city budgets due to the effects of COVID-19.... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 2:42:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 spreads, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about the impacts on the community. You can find... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 2:40:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
BOONE COUNTY - While other sports adjust the game plan to respect social distancing, some are just playing things business... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 2:16:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri-Kansas City says it will begin bringing back faculty, staff and students... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 2:14:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — During the State of the City address, John Glascock said the city is leaving it up to the... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 1:51:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Mike Parson will deliver his daily COVID-19 briefing live from the State Capitol in Jefferson City... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 12:46:00 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in News
Editor's note: Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez is a primary care pediatrician, director of pediatric telemedicine and assistant professor of pediatrics at... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, May 28 2020 May 28, 2020 Thursday, May 28, 2020 12:26:23 PM CDT May 28, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 75°
6pm 72°
7pm 70°
8pm 69°
9pm 66°