No charges, so far, in death of Aprina Paul

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Frank Schultz
Friday, November 8, 2013

JANESVILLE—The Rock County investigators are in no hurry for prosecutors to charge Nathan Middleton for events surrounding the still-puzzling death of Aprina Paul.

Middleton is in the Rock County Jail on suspicion of a probation violation, so the public is protected from potential harm, and Middleton remains available for charging, should it come to that, so there's no hurry, Sheriff Robert Spoden said in an interview Friday.

Investigators have no evidence to dispute Middleton's claim that the Fitchburg woman's death at Middleton's town of Porter residence was accidental, possibly a drug overdose.

But Middleton could be charged with hiding a corpse—a felony—based on what Middleton has told investigators, Spoden said.

Spoden said his office and the district attorney's office would meet next week, but a decision about whether to charge Middleton might wait for days afterward.

Meanwhile, investigators know more about the circumstances of the case. Photos of a woman who looks like Paul were found on Middleton's cellphone. Family members will be asked to confirm the identity, Spoden said.

Investigators believe Middleton's fiancée did not know anything about the incident, Spoden said.

Middleton told detectives he met Paul via a Craigslist ad, he took her to his residence while his fiancée was at work, Paul took an unknown drug, the two had sex, and the next morning he discovered she had died.

Spoden said most people would have called 911 at that point, but “he went to extremes to cover up the fact that she was ever in the residence,” Spoden said.

“That's were we have concerns,” Spoden added, but unless lab tests provide something, the only information about what happened in the house comes from Middleton.

Police began to focus on Middleton in Paul's disappearance after phone records indicated Middleton was among several people who had contact with her, Spoden said.

Paul's remains are being sent to a laboratory in Dallas. Results aren't expected for 12 weeks, Spoden said.

Paul's cellphone has not been found in the area along Tolles Road where Middleton said he threw it, even after three searches, Spoden said. Investigators will be able to get Paul's text messages, however, from the phone company.

A search warrant document released Friday lists items recovered from the residence at 12016 Highway 14 West. They include fingerprints, “numerous bone fragments from burn pit” and “possible teeth and fillings,” also from the fire pit, Spoden said.

Also recovered was marijuana but no other drugs. Middleton has said he and Paul smoked marijuana.

Middleton said he carried and dragged the body to the fire pit, piled wood on it and then applied kerosene before lighting it, Spoden said.

Neighbors said the fire pit flames were up to 8 feet high at times, Spoden said.

Investigators are still sifting through physical evidence and trying to talk to everyone who might know something about the case, Spoden said.

Also being checked are data on Middleton's phone and on Paul's mothers' computer, Spoden said.

Last updated: 4:27 pm Friday, November 8, 2013

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