Sheriff: Remains found in fire pit near Evansville home
TOWN OF PORTER—Rock County authorities found human remains in the backyard fire pit of a home near Evansville on Saturday as they investigated a tip that a Dane County woman might have died there, officials said.
While evidence points to someone trying to dispose of a body at the house on Highway 14 in the town of Porter, Sheriff Robert Spoden said, investigators have not yet found anything to indicate the death was a homicide.
Authorities questioned one of the home’s residents and kept him in custody at the Rock County Jail on Saturday, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Deputies first went to the house in the 12000 block of West Highway 14 late Friday afternoon, according to the news release.
Fitchburg police told the sheriff’s office that 18-year-old Aprina S. Paul, who was last seen Oct. 27, “may have died” at the town of Porter home, the sheriff’s office said.
On the second day of their investigation, deputies and detectives, as well as investigators from the Rock County Coroner’s Office, spent much of Saturday searching the home and its backyard.
Authorities recovered “forensic evidence” from a fire pit behind the one-story gray house, Spoden said.
A lab in Madison later confirmed the discovery of human remains, he said, which appear to have been burned.
Neighbors had seen a fire burning outside the house for “about a week,” according to WISC-TV.
Spoden said authorities also found evidence that Paul had been at the home, which sits on a rural section of Highway 14 about 1½ miles east of Evansville.
“We do believe there was a death here, and we do believe that the missing female was here,” Spoden said. He stopped short of definitively saying Paul was the person who died there, however.
Despite the efforts to hide the body, Spoden said, authorities at this point are not investigating the death as a homicide.
“We are treating this as a death investigation,” he said.
They haven’t ruled homicide out, Spoden said, but also haven’t come across any evidence that indicates a homicide.
Paul, whose Facebook page lists Madison as her current city, went missing the night of Oct. 27, according to a news release from Fitchburg police.
She was last seen leaving a Fitchburg home with “an unknown male” in a car, according to the release.
Investigators interviewed 29-year-old Nathan C. Middleton, who lives in the town of Porter house, the sheriff’s office said. He was held at the jail for a probation violation, according to a release.
Asked how Paul knew Middleton, or how she was connected to the town of Porter home, Spoden declined to comment.
Middleton lived at the home with his fiancée and young child, Spoden said.
On Saturday authorities kept much of the property taped off. They worked under canopies in the backyard, where green Menards buckets sat next to what looked like upturned earth and planks of wood topped with yellow evidence markers.
The sheriff’s office planned to keep deputies on the scene overnight to keep it secure, Spoden said, then return for a third day of work at the site today.