Nathan C. Middleton found guilty of burning Aprina Paul's body
JANESVILLE—The Rock County man accused of burning the corpse of a Fitchburg woman in his backyard last October will spend time in prison.
Nathan C. Middleton, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday in Rock County Court to charges of hiding a corpse and mutilating a corpse. Judge Richard Werner found him guilty.
As part of a plea agreement, a charge of attempted escape was dismissed but read into the record. Middleton was accused of hatching an escape plot from his jail cell.
The defense and prosecution are free to argue at the May 21 sentencing, and District Attorney David O'Leary said he will argue for the maximum sentences, a combined 32.5 years in prison on the two charges.
Investigators suspect Middleton is responsible for the death of Aprina Paul, 18, but have not been able to prove it.
The defense asked if the prosecution would agree not to file any future charges as a result of Paul's death, “and I told them, absolutely not,” O'Leary said. “If and when we can prove the cause of death, we would be filing charges related to the death of Aprina.”
Sheriff Bob Spoden said recently that he had little hope that forensic tests of burned bone fragments would yield any evidence of how Paul died.
Test results still pending might confirm that the fragments are indeed those of Paul, Spoden said, although the family has for some time accepted that she died at Middleton's home.
“At this point, the investigation continues on to try to find the cause of death, but as of right now I don't have anything to go on,” O'Leary said.
O'Leary defended the plea agreement, saying that attempted escape would add little prison time.
“I'm more interested in the more serious matter, and if that saves the victim's family the aggravation of going through a trial, I think that's in best interest of everybody,” O'Leary said.
Middleton told investigators a gruesome tale of what happened last Oct. 27 and 28. He said he contacted Paul through a Craigslist ad and drove her to his home at 12016 W. Highway 14, in the town of Porter, while his fiancÚ was away.
Middleton said he paid Paul for sex and watched her snort an unidentified drug in his living room, according to a criminal complaint.
The next morning, he found Paul had died, Middleton told investigators.
Middleton admitted he hid the body and built a fire pit. He sent his fiancÚ out to buy materials to make s'mores over the fire. While she was away, he moved the body, covered it with wood and kerosene, and set itá on fire.
Middleton remains in the Rock County Jail pending the May 21 sentencing.