Woman kept husband in bedroom freezer for nearly a year, warrant issued for her arrest

Joplin News First

Joplin Police probable cause filed November 13 states the body in the freezer is the husband, who died December 30, 2018

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin Police have now issued a warrant for the arrest of a woman alleged to have kept a man’s body in a freezer in her bedroom. Barbara Watters, 67, is not in custody. She has been charged with Abandonment of a Corpse without notifying authorities.

The probable cause affidavit filed in Jasper County Court on Wednesday states that police believe “Paul N Barton died on December 30th, 2018 and was being kept by his wife, Barbara Watters, in a freezer in her bedroom at 2602 S. Vermont Ave.”

Since Thursday November 7 when an adjacent house was burglarized and burned Watters would not answer the door.

In a neighborhood canvas on November 12 police met opposition again at the door of the residence. However acting on a tip, at the end of the day Tuesday, they obtained a search warrant for the residence.

The probable cause goes on to say, “police executed the search warrant at 2602 S Vermont Ave, A deceased human body was discovered stored in a freezer in Barbara Watters bedroom. Jasper and Newton County Coroner’s were contacted and had no records of Paul N. Barton being reported as deceased.”

Watters is wanted and still at large. There is a warrant for her arrest on the above charges with a $100,000 cash bond. If you have any information you are encouraged to contact the Joplin Police Department immediately or your local law enforcement agency.

She was last known driving a white Lincoln with a Missouri license number, TC4S9Z. According to the probable cause filed, Watters is armed. She has threatened police and people before.

Paul N. Barton, 2602 S. Vermont, would have been 70 years old at the time of his death if the probable cause affidavit is correct.


The morning of November 7 Joplin Fire Department and Joplin Police responded to a structure fire at 2605 South New Hampshire. As Joplin News First arrived we noticed a larger than normal amount of police and detectives on the scene.

As we talked to Joplin Fire Chief Jim Furgerson on the scene of the fire he told us that the fire was immediately suspicious. It was determined the home was burglarized and then set on fire. There is currently an arson and burglary investigation.

Tuesday morning Capt Nick Jimenez confirmed from our questioning that there was “graffiti on the outside and the inside of the house” that was burned. Although Jimenez would not confirm what the graffiti said, we believe it was specific and threatening to the couple who resided in the home.

A neighborhood canvasing on November 12 regarding the fire led authorities to a tip that the deceased man was inside the home. After numerous attempts to talk to the occupant(s) it was determined to get a search warrant for 2602 S Vermont.

The burned home, 2605 S New Hampshire, is still boarded up. It has a shared fence with the Barton/Watters home. No utilities are on at the New Hamshire residence, so no occupants. Additionally no person(s) have been arrested or named as suspect in the arson and burglary case.

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