Widow who kept dead husband in her bedroom freezer loses legal fight to get body back

Barbara Watters at a December 2019 hearing during her legal fight to have her husband’s body returned

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A widow arrested because she kept her dead husband in her bedroom freezer has lost a legal fight demanding authorities return the body.

Barbara Watters, 68, was arrested and charged with abandonment of remains, but a judge threw the case out saying she had not in fact abandoned partner Paul Barton at all, and just wanted to keep him close to her.

She then launched a legal fight to have the 71-year-old's remains sent back to her for storage in her freezer, but that case has just been tossed from a court in Missouri, US.

Now the Joplin Globs reports Ms Watter is undeterred and still wants her husband's corpse back. 

“I’m not done," she told the paper. "They think they got away with something. But I’m not done.”

Police found the body at the couple's home in Joplin, Missouri

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Ms Watters was arrested a year ago when police make the gruesome discovery at her home.

The criminal charge was dismissed in January by Associate Judge Joe Hensley, who reasoned she’d not actually “abandoned” her husband’s corpse as prohibited by law but merely sought to “preserve” it.

A post mortem found Mr Barton died from natural causes.

Ms Watters says he suffered from a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease and it is believed he may have died in December 2018 so could have been in the freezer for nearly a year.

Ms Watters was initially arrested but the case against her was later thrown out

At the time of his discovery, his wife told investigators she did not want doctors harvesting his organs and tissue as that was her husband’s long-standing wish.

She told the Globe: “He told me to buy a freezer and to put him in it, so he could not be dug up.”

Mrs Watters sued police and Coroner Rob Chappelbut the lawsuit reportedly failed when she failed to respond to paperwork.

She is continuing her battle to have her husband's body returned to her

Mr Chapel told the Globe: “We want to honor (Paul Barton). We would like to honor (Barbara Watters) as well — but within the parameters of the law.”

Now there are just three options left open, according to state law; burial, cremation or anatomical donation for medical science.

Mr Chapel added that keeping a loved one’s body in a freezer in your home “is not considered final disposition as I interpret the law.”

But Ms Watters disagrees.

Disputing the legal position as outlined by the coroner, she told the paper: “They cannot require my husband be buried.

"They cannot require that he be cremated and they cannot require that his body be made an anatomical gift.”

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