Police in Joplin, Missouri have ruled out foul play after the body of a man was found in a woman’s freezer, The Joplin Globe reports. The man’s widow, Barbara Watters, has been charged with abandonment of a corpse, which is a felony in The Show-Me State.
As The Associated Press reported on November 5, police in the southwestern Missouri city of about 50,000 were investigating a fire when a concerned citizen gave them a tip that a man’s body was being kept in a freezer. The man, Paul Barton, hadn’t been heard from since December 2018. His wife, 67-year-old Barbara, was believed to be suffering from unspecified mental disorders and was also believed to carry firearms.
The witness told police that Barbara had threatened to kill them if they told authorities. The witness also said that she had threatened to kill any police, firefighters, or anyone else who tried to enter her home.
Police were later able to execute a search warrant at the home where the witness said the body would be, and they did find a body in the freezer, which was later identified to be Paul. With the help of U.S. Marshals, police were able to take Barbara into custody without incident.
“She was standing in the yard there,” police Capt. Nick Jimenez said.
At the time of The Associated Press report, an autopsy was scheduled. Now, Joplin police are reporting that foul play is not suspected in Paul’s death. As of this writing, however, it remains unclear how he died. Barbara is believed to have kept him in the freezer since his death on December 30, 2018.
Though not charged directly in her husband’s death, Barbara is facing criminal charges related to allegedly keeping his body in the freezer. She’s been charged with abandonment of a corpse, which is punishable by up to four years in prison.
Though they took place on opposite sides of the state, Barbara’s case bears remarkable similarities to that of a case out of St. Louis in which a body was alleged to have been kept in a freezer, this time for decades.
As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, back in July a man was cleaning out his deceased mother’s freezer when he found the mummified, frozen remains of a baby, likely a sibling or half-sibling who had died decades ago. The man said that, everywhere he’d ever lived, his mother had kept a box in the back of the freezer, but he never thought to look in it until after she died.