Barbara Watters sues to get her husband’s body returned


This undated photo provided by the Joplin, Mo., Police Department, shows Barbara Watters. Authorities are searching for Watters after finding her husband’s corpse in a freezer inside her southwest Missouri home, where it may have been stored for nearly a year. Watters, 67, of Joplin, was charged Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, with abandonment of a corpse, a felony that is punishable by up to four years in prison. (Joplin Police Department via AP)

JOPLIN, Mo- The Joplin woman who kept her husband’s body in a freezer for nearly a year is suing to get her husband’s body back. 

Barbara Watters,  is suing the Joplin Police Department and the Jasper County coroner.  This week, her lawsuit was moved to a federal court by request from the attorney for the police department.

In the lawsuit, she claims the coroner is holding Paul Barton’s body and ignoring her demand letter for him to be released back to her.  In the court documents she alleges that the police are still holding personal documents and items that belong to her despite all charges being dropped against her.  In the documents her attorney writes than many of her civil rights have been violated.

Watters had been arrested and charged after the body of her husband was found in a freezer in the home back in November of 2019.  Her defense attorney argued she never abandoned the corpse because she always knew where it was. 

Joplin police say she told them her husband had Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive nervous system disease that is also known as ALS.  She feared a doctor wanted to harvest his brain for research.   His death was never reported to the coroner’s office.

We reached out to the city of Joplin who declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

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