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Missouri woman kept her dead husband in a freezer for a year, now she wants his body returned to her

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An insane Missouri woman wants to put her deceased husband back on ice.

At some point in 2018, Paul Barton, the late husband of Barbara Watters, died. In a response that was completely sane, stable, and normal, his wife took his corpse and shoved it in a freezer. Roughly a year later in November, authorities stumbled upon the body, and arrested Watters, 67, for illegally abandoning a corpse. But the charges just didn’t stick, and now Watters wants the remains of her late husband returned to her so she can stick him back into the freezer.

Barton suffered a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease and an autopsy revealed that he died of natural causes, so there wasn’t any foul play involved.

Incredibly, back in January of this year, Associate Judge Joe Hensley ruled in favor of Watters and dismissed the charges. At the time, the wife of the deceased was able to convincingly argue that, technically, she didn’t abandon the body—she merely sought to preserve it and keep her loved one nearby:

The judge wrote in an order issued late Friday afternoon that Missouri law states a person commits the crime of abandonment of a corpse when they abandon, dispose, desert or leave a body without reporting its location to the proper authorities. Consequently, the judge wrote, the law requires two prongs of proof: First, that a defendant abandoned, disposed, deserted or left a body, and second, that she did not report the location of the body to the proper law enforcement officials.

Hensley’s order further reads: “Though the state did not openly concede this point, under the plain wording of the statute, the defendant did not abandon, dispose or desert her husband’s body. Quite the contrary, her actions before his death in purchasing a suitably sized freezer and placing it in her own bedroom, rather than a kitchen, garage or any other room in the home suggest she wanted to preserve her husband’s body and keep it close to her, the morbidity of her intent notwithstanding.”

Now Watters is suing the corners office for the return of her husband’s remains:

The lawsuit against the Joplin Police Department, the city and coroner’s office said he died in September 2019, two months before the body was discovered. The suit also alleges that Chappel has failed to provide a death certificate.

Watters believes doctors want her husband’s body for brain research, the suit said. Barton suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and they both were concerned doctors wanted to harvest his organs, according to court documents.

Brett MacDonald

Brett MacDonald

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