Woman who kept husband in freezer sues for return of body

1 week 2 days 7 hours 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 — As state and commercial testing is more available for the Missourians, the number of confirmed cases is rising.... More >>
4 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 5:00:00 PM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - One resident of The Bluffs tested positive for COVID-19 Saturday after a facility wide testing, according to a... More >>
7 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 2:45:00 PM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - One man from Jefferson City was transported to a hospital with serious injuries after a police pursuit... More >>
8 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 1:22:00 PM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
FULTON - SERVE Inc. is asking for more volunteers and more supplies for their food pantry. Despite challenges like... More >>
8 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 12:51:00 PM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
(CNN) - SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule has opened its hatch, linking the spacecraft with the International Space Station. Astronauts... More >>
9 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 12:16:14 PM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
FERGUSON, Mo. — Police and protesters clashed outside the Ferguson Police Department as protests over the death... More >>
10 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 11:09:00 AM CDT May 31, 2020 in Top Stories
As COVID-19 spreads, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about the impacts on the community. ... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 10:06:00 AM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mayor of Atlanta, one of dozens of U.S. cities hit by massive protests, has a... More >>
11 hours ago Sunday, May 31 2020 May 31, 2020 Sunday, May 31, 2020 9:59:11 AM CDT May 31, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mike Parson signed an executive order to declare a State of Emergency in Missouri because of... More >>
23 hours ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 9:56:00 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A motorcycle driver is seriously injured after losing control of his motorcycle on Saturday. Around 3:40... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 6:06:00 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A new report shows black drivers were 95% more likely to be pulled over by Missouri... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 5:44:00 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As if trips to the grocery store weren’t nerve-wracking enough, U.S. shoppers lately have seen... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 5:25:41 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
KBIA - The Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing announced today that they’re making clear, accessible masks... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 5:14:59 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The Boone County Fair Board is hosting a 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) Youth Fair... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 5:05:02 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA MISSOURIAN - The Daniel Boone Regional Library plans to reopen all buildings Wednesday. There will... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 4:52:40 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- The US military on Friday ordered several police units to be ready for potential deployment to Minnesota as... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 4:41:14 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) — Protesters blocked a downtown St. Louis interstate and set a fire in the road... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 4:17:51 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A 7-year-old boy and and his 6-year-old brother died in an unincorporated area east of Kansas... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 30 2020 May 30, 2020 Saturday, May 30, 2020 4:13:56 PM CDT May 30, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
10pm 68°
11pm 67°
12am 66°
1am 66°