Man charged with burning body of Aprina Paul, but homicide question unclear
JANESVILLE—It could be months before investigators find out how a Dane County woman whose remains were found in a fire pit died, authorities said Wednesday.
The town of Porter man accused of hiding and burning the body of 18-year-old Aprina Paul made his first appearance in Rock County Court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Nathan C. Middleton, 29, of 12016 W. Highway 14, with two felonies—hiding a corpse and mutilating a corpse—but have not yet pursued homicide charges against him.
Middleton told police he met Paul through a Craigslist ad Oct. 27, took her to his home, paid her for sex and watched her snort lines of a drug in his living room, according to a criminal complaint.
When he went to wake Paul the next morning, she was dead, Middleton said.
“I didn't know what to do with her because I'm on probation,” Middleton is quoted as telling investigators, according to the complaint.
Middleton burned Paul's body that week in a fire pit he dug in his backyard, authorities said.
Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden has expressed skepticism about Middleton's claims, particularly because Middleton reacted to Paul's death by trying to destroy her body.
But the question of how Paul died likely won't be answered for a while, if at all.
Human remains recovered from a search of Middleton's home have been sent to a Texas lab to be examined, authorities said, with investigators hoping to positively identify the bone fragments as Paul's and possibly figure out a cause of death.
The lab estimated it will take 12 weeks to analyze the remains, Spoden and District Attorney David O'Leary said Wednesday.
“If and when we get further evidence showing how she died, one way or the other, then we could be looking at additional charges—but not until then,” O'Leary said.
Given the extent of damage to the remains, authorities have said determining a cause of death might not ever be possible.
The two felonies filed against Middleton carry a maximum sentence of 32½ years in prison.
State authorities also have moved to revoke Middleton's probation from an earlier Dane County case in which he was convicted of burglary while armed. If that happens, he could face another seven years in prison, O'Leary said.
Court Commissioner Charles Holznecht set a $100,000 cash bond for Middleton on Wednesday. Holznecht added a provision that Middleton not direct anyone he knows to try to contact Paul's family.
Prosecutors did not charge Middleton with four misdemeanor counts recommended by the Rock County Sheriff's Office last week. O'Leary said he wanted to focus on the most serious charges in the case.
Middleton is next due in court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Dec. 18.