Additional reports detail investigation into well being of man months before he was found in dead

Additional documents sent to KOAM
Additional reports detail investigation into well being of man months before he was found in dead

Additional reports sent to KOAM show that Joplin officials were able to determine the well-being of a man who was later found dead in a freezer.

On November 11th, Paul Barton was found dead in a freezer in his wife’s home.

An autopsy showed no signs of foul play. His wife, Barbara Watters, was arrested for abandoning a corpse.

Police records show in June 2018, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services got a tip that Barton, who had a terminal illness, was being neglected by Watters. According to the report, Watters refused to let officials have a private conversation with Barton.

Additional records sent to KOAM show that the next day, Watters called the police department, saying she thought a doctor — who she thought wanted to use her husband’s body for research — had called the tip in to retaliate against her.

Records show police tried to make contact with Watters later in June and throughout most of July, but couldn’t. Additional records also show the Department of Health and Senior Services filed a 69-hour affidavit for Barton.

Another new record shows on July 31st 2018, police were able to make contact with Watters and Barton, and had a private conversation with Barton. In that conversation, Barton said he was happy at home, was not afraid of Watters, and was happy with how she was taking care of him.

“After that follow-up and them interviewing both of them, Health and Senior Services didn’t feel they had grounds to continue their investigation,” says Joplin Police Captain Nick Jimenez.

Police records also show Health and Senior Services was going to drop the 96-hour affidavit for Barton.

During that same interview on the 31st, Watters told police she was having trouble finding a doctor for Paul because she didn’t want his body to be used for research.

A few months later, in October 2018, a caretaker who had been living with Barton and Watters told police that Watters was verbally and physically abusing Barton, including leaving on the toilet for 12 hours.

Records show police called the elder abuse hotline.

An investigator with the Joplin Police Department and an investigator with Health and Senior Services conducted a follow up at that residence, and no contact was made,” explains Jimenez.

Police believe Barton died in December 2018.

Jimenez says police did not make contact with Watters between October 2018, and November of this year when Barton’s body was found.

“Every call we received on any incident involving Mr. Barton, officers and detectives responded, conducted multiple follow-ups and worked closely with other agencies conducting investigations,” says Jimenez. “I feel our men and women of this agency do a great job.”

KOAM reached out to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. We were told they can’t release details about investigations.

Watter’s was released on her own recognizance on the 21st. She had to surrender all of her firearms to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and is under house arrest.

You can find the additional documents sent to KOAM below.

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