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Craigslist ad for sex led to woman's death, documents indicate

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Gazette staff
November 6, 2013

TOWN OF PORTER—The man who admitted burning the body of Aprina Paul in his fire pit told investigators he met Paul by posting an ad for sex on Craigslist.

The information is contained in search warrant documents that became public Wednesday.

Nathan C. Middleton said his ad was answered the morning of Oct. 27, and he and a woman text-messaged each other before he agreed to pick her up in Fitchburg, the document states.

Middleton dropped off his fiancee at her job that night before driving, with his 5-month-old daughter in the car, to meet Paul in Fitchburg, Sheriff Robert Spoden said.

The two drove to his residence at 12016 W. Highway 14, where Paul "consumed an unknown type of drug," Middleton told investigators according to the document.

"We don't right now have any physical evidence that that was the case," Spoden said, in part because Middleton burned Paul's body.

That makes it impossible for authorities to do a toxicology test or to have a complete autopsy, Spoden said, which might prove or disprove Middleton's version of the events.

Paul's remains were sent Tuesday to Orchid Cellmark, a Dallas lab that performs DNA testing for state law enforcement. 

Middleton said he had sex with the woman in the shower, they smoked marijuana together and then went to the bedroom and had sex again, the document states.

Middleton claimed he paid Paul for sex, but Spoden said that is another aspect of the story investigators cannot confirm.

"Whether it's him seeing her use drugs or them having sex or him paying her for prostitution, (that's) something he's alleging," Spoden said. "It's something, again, that we take with a grain of salt."

When Middleton woke the next day, Monday, Oct. 28, he found the woman “still in his bed, but she was not breathing and did not have a pulse. Middleton claimed he attempted to revive the female by doing chest compressions but could get not a pulse,” the document states.

Middleton said he wrapped Paul's body in a blanket and hid it under a pickup truck bed liner outside the garage, authorities said. He put her clothing and purse in a burn barrel and set it afire, the document states.

Middleton said he later threw the woman's cellphone into a ditch north of the home, the document states.

The next day, Middleton bought a shovel and kerosene from a business in Evansville and built a fire pit at his residence, authorities said.

He later sent his fiancee into town to buy supplies for s'mores, Spoden said, using that time to move Paul's body into the fire pit, cover it with wood and kerosene and set it afire.

"Middleton and his fiancee tended the fire until around 11:30 p.m.," the document states.

Middleton said he burned wood and the body again the next day, Wednesday, Oct. 30, the document states.

Investigators showed Middleton a photo of Aprina Paul, and he identified her as the woman he met via Craigslist and burned in the fire pit, the document states.

The document does not make clear whether Middleton's fiancee knew about Paul's presence at the residence.

Detectives are hoping to talk with Middleton's fiancee more, so they can determine "what she knew and when she knew it," Spoden said.

Investigators used Middleton's words to obtain search warrants for Middleton's cellphone and car.

Middleton remains in the Rock County Jail on suspicion of a probation violation. He has not been charged in connection with the investigation.

Gazette reporter Nico Savidge contributed to this story.



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