ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) --- Court records requesting a search warrant offer details into a Rock County death investigation police have linked to 18-year-old Aprina Paul.
The documents show officials searched the Chevrolet Lumina owned by 29-year-old Nathan Middleton. Middleton remains in custody at the Rock County Jail on a probation hold.
The affidavit for the search warrant states Middleton told officers he posted an ad for sex on Craigslist, which was answered on the morning of October 27, the day 18-year-old Aprina Paul was last seen.
"He still denies that he had anything to do with her death," Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden tells 27 News.
Middleton claims the two texted back and forth and he agreed to pick her up in Fitchburg. That evening he dropped his fiance off at work, and then picked up Paul on King James Way.
The documents detail that Middleton told police he brought Aprina Paul back to his Evansville home where he says she took an unknown drug before they had sex, smoked marijuana together then had sex again. "When we hear him say an unknown drug, that's something we're a little suspect of, that he wouldn't know that," Spoden says of Middleton's account.
Spoden says they have to be skeptical of what Spoden tells them. It's his words against a victim's who is no longer.
Middleton told detectives he found Paul in his bed the next morning and she was not breathing. He says he tried to revive her, but could not get a pulse.
"The grey area that we have and the area that concerns us is his conduct immediately after her death," Spoden says.
At that time, Middleton claims he wrapped Paul in a camouflage blanket and hid her outside his garage. He took her clothes and purse and put them in a burn barrel, then set it on fire and threw Paul's cell phone in a ditch north of his home.
Middleton claims he bought a shovel and kerosene on Tuesday and built a fire pit behind his home.
When his fiance left to buy supplies for smores, he says he moved Paul's body to the fire pit and covered it with wood and kerosene and lit the fire. Middleton said his fiance and him tended the fire until 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 29.
"I find it very disturbing that somebody could take a human body, put it in a burn pit, and then make smores that very evening. That's not normal human behavior," Spoden tells 27 News.
Wednesday, Middleton burned the fire again as Paul's body was still in the pit.
The affidavit states that when detectives showed Middleton a picture of Aprina Paul, he confirmed that she was the person he met on Craigslist and burned in the pit at his home.
Spoden says it'll take time before they can positively ID the victim with only charred remains. "We are going to use every resource we have to find out what truly happened to this young lady."
The Rock County Sheriff's office says what's left is more police work. Investigators will be retracing the steps of Paul and Middleton starting Oct. 27 and interviewing people who had contact with them. Middleton has not been charged in connection to the death investigation. Spoden says he does have a meeting set up with prosecutors next week.
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