No Mystery: The Circumstances Surrounding Aprina Paul’s Death Strongly Suggests a Homicide (w/Update)
(UPDATE (11/08/2013, 8:07 P.M.):
A guest to this blog directed me to the right Facebook page of Brittney Humphrey Middleton, the former fiancée of person-of-interest Nathan Middleton in whose company teenager Aprina Paul died the night of October 27-28. The page looks fairly innocuous, until one gets to Friday, November 1. Two messages were sent at different times from her cell phone:
“Need big time help form god right know”
“My life need to end I don’t think it can get any worse then this”
Then on November 2:
“Lord take me away”
Again, from her cell phone on November 3:
“Lord Jesus help me threw this ,I miss u and love u Nathan”
Finally, the messages end on November 4 with this:
“Nathan hunny I k.ow u did do it I miss u and love u and will get threw it some how”
A friend of hers warns her against saying too much on Facebook because it is a public venue, so Brittney changes the subject. Brittney also states that she is married on her Facebook page.
Why do I think that this was a homicide?
Why attempt to get rid of the dead body of a young woman that you barely know unless you did something to the woman to cause her death, and you want to cover up evidence of the deed? It makes things infinitely worse. I don’t need the law to tell me this.
A smart, truly blameless individual, no matter what his/her marital status, would have called the cops right off the bat and admitted everything. Including creeping on his fiancée, Brittney Humphrey, 27, who was already styling herself “Brittney Humphrey Middleton” on her Facebook page, and their 8-month-old baby daughter.
Nathan C. Middleton, 29, told investigators that Aprina Paul, 18, died “in his company” after he picked her up and drove her to his house just outside of Evansville early last week, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.
In a state of panic, Middleton hid her body before burning it in a pit fire that continued for days last week, Spoden added.
“He has not admitted to killing her,” Spoden said.
“Our concern is: Why did you go to the extent that you did to cover it up?” he added.
In another story, Sheriff Spoden called the burning of Aprina Paul’s body “very repulsive.” He reiterated his feelings in a GazetteXtra story:
Most people, if someone were to die in their presence, would not respond with that type of an action … They don’t just hide a body and burn it.
Middleton already has a criminal record. Presently, he’s in jail for violating the terms of his probation. He remains “a person of interest” as the police try to build up a case against him, however, the authorities might have to release him until further notice because evidence is sparse. And Middleton is also the son of a murderer, and the apple may not fall very short from the tree.
According to court records, Middleton was found guilty of bail jumping, endangering safety and use of a dangerous weapon in Dane County in 2003. He was found guilty of burglary in Washburn County in 2005. That same year he was convicted in Dane County on two counts of burglary while armed with a dangerous weapon. Eight other counts were dismissed.
Spoden also confirmed that Middleton’s birth father is Douglas A. Middleton, who is serving a life sentence in Fox Lake Correctional Institute after he was convicted in 1984 of first-degree murder after he was charged with bludgeoning to death a 72-year-old Edgerton woman, Hilda Miller, with a hammer. The conviction was reversed in 1986 by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals but upheld by the same court in 1988.
I also don’t think that Middleton panicked, although that is his story, set out in court papers today. Rather, I wouldn’t be surprised that this newest Craigslist encounter gone bad probably involved kinky sex as well as the promise of drugs. What happened probably took her out of This World and into The Next.
According to the affidavit, Middleton told detectives he dropped his fiance off at work Oct. 27, then picked up Paul in Fitchburg and brought her to his home where she took an unknown drug before having sex with Middleton. Middleton told detectives when he awoke Monday morning, Paul was in his bed not breathing and without a pulse.
After attempting to revive her, Middleton told detectives he hid her body and belongings until Tuesday, when he burned Paul’s body in a fire pit he built in the yard, the affidavit said. Middleton told authorities he moved Paul’s body from into the pit and covered it with wood when his fiance went to town to buy supplies for s’mores. The two then tended the fire until 11:30 p.m.
It was not clear in the document if Middleton had told his fiance about the body.
Of course, I don’t buy Middleton’s story, but this is what really gets me: Brittney Humphrey must have known something was up. A person’s behavior tends to change when they have done something serious, particularly if it is murder or accidental death. If you really know your S.O., it’s like an electric current. A vibe. Plus, at the very least, he snuck Aprina into what was supposed to be their home while Brittney was at work. Unless he has ice water in his veins, a man who did something like this would look and act weird, or lash out unaccountably, or become even more quiet, distant or preoccupied. Moreover, even if Aprina’s body was covered up or was hacked up and burned in separate parts, Brittney would have believed her lying eyes if parts of the skeleton were revealed amid the blackened wood and the flames. And what was that smell all about? That couldn’t be just kerosene?
He sent her out for s’mores?
Middleton’s fiancé talked with WISC-TV Monday night.
She said she was not aware of Paul being in their home until Middleton confessed to her last week that he burned Paul’s body on a bonfire in their yard.
Sorry, but I think that Brittney Humphrey is lying, if not to herself, then to the cops. Just my suspicion, but there is no evidence that implicates her yet. Knowledge of the deed and participating in a cover-up would make her an accessory after the fact. I think, though, that Middleton had enough time to concoct a story. I also saw something on local TV regarding Brittney’s true feelings about what happened that she had intimated on Facebook that she felt that her life was over.
but at this point, I cannot find the video or a snapshot. The FB site looks as if it is sanitized or merely under construction.
Not only Middleton’s fiancée, but his landlord, John Crull, and people living in the surrounding area must have been as dense as boulders when it came to the disposition of this young woman’s body. The fire in this pit burned for several days, from morn until night, and “hundreds” (says Middleton’s landlord) of passersby and motorists as well as residents in the neighborhood recall seeing it. Worse yet, it seems none of these witnesses questioned whether anything was amiss because bodies always give off a strong, disgusting stench when burned. Blood, body fat, organs and even spinal fluid break loose and give off a particular odor in turn. It’s nothing like leaves or refuse. What was the matter with these people?
Stacy Wagner first noticed the fire burning in her neighbor’s yard near Evansville on Monday afternoon.
From her front porch, which has a clear view of the yard and fire pit, Wagner watched it burn all week. Day and night, the flames stayed about the size you would expect from a campfire—never going out, or even smoldering, she said.
“It was going when we went to bed, it was going when we got up,” Wagner said.
I would be wondering about that, because most fires that are not fuel-driven (in this case, with a body hidden in the wood) go out eventually. So why didn’t Brittney Humphrey or the neighbors question why the fire didn’t go out after a couple of days. The fire incinerating Aprina’s remains reportedly reached a height of eight (8) feet.
You’ll know it when you smell it. Burning muscle tissue gives off an aroma similar to beef in a frying pan, and body fat smells like a side of fatty pork on the grill. But you probably won’t mistake the scent of human remains for a cookout. That’s because a whole body includes all sorts of parts that we’d rarely use for a regular barbecue. For example, cattle are bled after slaughter, and the beef and pork we eat contain few blood vessels. When a whole human body burns, all the iron-rich blood still inside can give the smell a coppery, metallic component. Full bodies also include internal organs, which rarely burn completely because of their high fluid content; they smell like burnt liver. Firefighters say that cerebrospinal fluid burns up in a musky, sweet perfume.
That’s how, during the Holocaust, residents in neighboring villages and cities close to Nazi killing centers (concentration camps) knew what was going on. Not even a breeze could mask or remove the stench of burning corpses. The miles closer one got to a killing field, the stronger the odor. It is something way out of the ordinary. So how could people NOT know that something was wrong, and call the police to relay their suspicions?
Why can’t law enforcement accuse Middleton outright of murder? Because Middleton burned Aprina’s body almost to cinders, there is no evidence of his culpability on her body. There is no evidence of blows, or strangulation, or stab wounds, or gunshot wounds or even the drugs in her system that she supposedly took. In short, it’s a perfect corpus delicti, that is, there needs to be evidence that a crime has been committed before someone can be convicted of said crime. The fuzz still have not positively identified the remains as those of Aprina Paul, although the sheriff is convinced that the bone fragments are hers from what Middleton admitted. They have had to send everything to crime labs in Chicago, for instance, because the fragments have yet to yield up DNA. And yes, even her skull may not have survived intact.
I think Middleton believed that he was being slick. No body, no evidence, no murder charge. That’s why he incinerated Aprina’s body. But the authorities could still put him on trial and with his previous criminal history, they could convict him for covering up and destroying her body. That’s a felony crime according to the sheriff.
I am not even going to speculate or pass judgment about Aprina’s sexuality or why she decided to answer Middleton’s ad. She may have been of age, and she may have been highly intelligent, but that does not necessarily indicate maturity or ability to exercise caution or common sense. At that age, I do remember feeling that I could live forever and that I was bulletproof. Lots of young women experiment with sex at this point in their lives. It does not make her any more or any less than any young woman in America: black, white, yellow or brown.
However, I would not have gone out cold with a man I barely knew at 10:00 p.m., at night, and without telling anyone where I was going. It doesn’t matter if it was anonymous sex or a trick. And with someone that I had met on Craigslist or on another sex board? Oh, hell no. Particularly, Craigslist. Don’t even think that something foul cannot happen to you.
Her brother, Adonius Paul, 16, didn’t want to talk with a reporter Sunday after the family was briefed by detectives from the Rock County Sheriff’s office about what they found and about the crime lab results. “I’m not doing real well,” he said.
[Alice] Larrue said Aprina, who graduated from Madison West High School earlier this year, loved her three younger brothers and her job working with children at Madison School & Community Recreation’s after-school program at Leopold Elementary School.
Her daughter “was a very bright, beautiful, smart girl, with a whole bright future ahead of her,” Larrue said.
She said that she’s seen “stuff like this happen before” in the movies and on the news. “This just sounds so out of character. I just can’t believe it.”
“Who would have ever thought this would hit close to us like this?” Larrue asked. “This is something like in a movie to me. I still can’t believe it. Not a child I raised for 18 years. She’s too smart.”
Dominique Harvey said he lived with Paul, and she was like a sister to him.
“I really wish I would have told her how much I love her and care for her, and that she was really like a sister that I really considered in my heart,” Harvey said.
Harvey said it still doesn’t seem real that Paul is gone.
“Just to lay in my bed and look to her room,” Harvey said. “And just see that she’s not there and her clothes and everything are right there, it’s just been really hard.”
Among the prayers and memories, Larrue shared her words of warning to young people in the community.
“If you all could just please, please, please for me, tell somebody where you’re going. Tell somebody who you’re with. Don’t trust anybody,” Larrue said.
Channel 3000 reports that there will be a fundraiser to help Aprina Paul’s family on this Saturday afternoon. Her friends and family survivors may also trek to Evansville, WI to hold another vigil. Stay tuned.
- Wis. sheriff ‘confident’ remains are of teenager (host.madison.com)
- Police look for missing teen (nbc15.com)
- Nathan Middleton Attempts Jail Break Days Before His Court Appearance on December 17 (thisblksistaspage.wordpress.com)
- Nathan Middleton Arrested on Charges of Destroying Aprina Paul’s Body, Drug Possession, and Pandering (thisblksistaspage.wordpress.com)