Authorities arrest Nathan Middleton on charges of hiding, burning body of Aprina Paul
JANESVILLE--Despite bringing a raft of charges Wednesday against a town of Porter man accused of burning a woman's body in his backyard, Rock County authorities admit they might never know how the woman died.
Nathan C. Middleton, 29, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of six criminal charges after authorities said he hid the body of 18-year-old Aprina Paul of Fitchburg and burned it in a fire pit behind his house two weeks ago.
Middleton admitted he destroyed Paul's body, according to court documents, but denied killing her.
While authorities are skeptical of Middleton's claims, Sheriff Robert Spoden said, the extent of damage to Paul's remains means investigators might never be able to prove how she died or if Middleton killed her.
“At this time, we just don't have the evidence we believe would meet the criteria of a homicide charge,” Spoden said.
Authorities have sent human remains they recovered from the fire pit on Middleton's property to a lab in Texas that does forensic analysis for law enforcement, Spoden said.
Authorities could bring more charges against Middleton in the future, but Spoden admitted he is not optimistic the lab could determine the cause of Paul's death.
“I'm trying to be realistic that there's a chance that we might not ever know,” Spoden said.
Middleton has been in custody at the Rock County Jail on suspicion of probation violation since Nov. 1, when authorities were tipped that Paul's body could be at his home near Evansville.
Deputies arrested Middleton on six charges Wednesday: hiding a corpse, mutilating a corpse, failure to notify the coroner of a death, solicitation for prostitution, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to a news release.
Two of the charges, for hiding and mutilating a corpse, are felonies.
If convicted on all charges, the maximum sentence Middleton would face is fewer than 25 years in prison.
The arrest was made Wednesday after detectives talked with Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary, Spoden said.
Charges have not yet been filed against Middleton in Rock County Court, though that is expected to happen Thursday, when he could also make his first court appearance.
Middleton told investigators he met Paul through a Craigslist ad Oct. 27 and paid her for sex that night, according to court documents. He claimed he saw Paul use “an unknown drug,” and when he awoke the next morning she was dead, Middleton said.
Middleton then hid Paul's body in his backyard and before burning it in a fire pit, authorities said.
Authorities wanted to bring the charges they knew they could prove, Spoden said, while keeping the door open for more charges in the future.
“What happened in that house that evening is what we're still trying to put together,” he said.
In most possible homicide cases, Spoden said, investigators have the victim's body and must then look for a suspect. This case is the opposite, he said.
“We have the suspect, but we have very little remains of the victim,” Spoden said. “There's just so much more information that you can get from an autopsy that we just aren't able to have.”