In documents filed with the court, detectives said the person of interest in the death of a Fitchburg woman met her through an ad online for sex, then two days later burned her body over a fire in his yard.
In the affidavit filed Tuesday for a warrant to search 29-year-old Nathan Middleton's car, a Rock County sheriff's detective said the Evansville man told officials he posted an ad for sex on Craigslist. Middleton said Aprina Paul, 18, responded to his ad on Oct. 27, the day Paul's family said it last saw her leaving her home with an unknown man.
Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said the Craigslist ad did not openly ask for sex, but he said it was somewhere along the lines of an ad for "having fun."
Law enforcement officials said Paul, of Fitchburg, died at the house where Middleton was living on Highway 14 in Evansville. The Rock County Sheriff's Department said investigators searched Middleton's home and yard, sifting through a burn barrel and pit over the weekend. Investigators said Sunday, they found a female's remains in the burn pit.
According to the affidavit, Middleton told detectives he dropped his fiance off at work Oct. 27, then picked up Paul in Fitchburg and brought her to his home, where she took an unknown drug before having sex with Middleton. Middleton told detectives when he awoke Monday morning, Paul was in his bed not breathing and without a pulse.
After attempting to revive her, Middleton told detectives he hid her body and belongings until Tuesday, when he burned Paul's body in a fire pit he built in the yard, the affidavit said. Middleton told authorities he moved Paul's body into the pit and covered it with wood when his fiance went to town to buy supplies for s'mores. The two then tended the fire until 11:30 p.m., according to the document. Middleton told detectives he continued burning the body in the pit Wednesday.
"Typically people, when someone's injured in front of them or they become deathly ill, they call 911. And our person of interest, Mr. Middleton, went to extremes to hide the fact that he was in company of this person and went to extremes to remove any evidence that we may be able to obtain," Spoden said.
It was not clear in the document if Middleton had told his fiance about the body.
Spoden said that without Paul's body, it's a difficult case to bring charges on. He said Paul and her belongings were burned, and Middleton had days to clean up his place. Spoden said there's no way to know what drug Paul might have taken, and there's no proof money exchanged hands.
"Without having evidence of either money being exchanged, without a statement from Miss Paul, really, again, we're going just solely on Mr. Middleton, who is a convicted felon," Spoden said.
Spoden said at this time, the case is Middleton's word against everyone else's and that there's no evidence to support or deny his story.
Spoden said investigators haven't ruled out homicide and that burning a body is illegal.
Detectives are still conducting interviews. Investigators are expected to meet with the district attorney next week to discuss possible charges, Spoden added.
"The concern that we have now is: What was the cause of death for Miss Paul, and why would someone go to such great lengths to hide the body and then destroy the remains in a fire pit?" Spoden said.
Middleton maintains he didn't kill Paul.
He's being held at the Rock County Jail on a probation violation.
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