The Rock County sheriff is confident bone fragments found in a fire pit outside of a home in Evansville over the weekend are those of a missing Fitchburg teen, although it may be difficult to confirm that beyond a doubt.
Sheriff Robert Spoden says they are currently trying to find a lab that can help analyze the badly burned bones to determine if they are those of 18-year-old Aprina Paul. A lab in Madison was able to determine they belong to a human female, but could not identify how she died or who she was. Still, Spoden says other information given to investigators indicates they are the remains of the girl, who was last seen leaving her home in Fitchburg on October 27.
Sherrif’s deputies were called to the home late last week after Fitchburg Police said they had reason to believe that Paul may have died there. Spoden says they spent the weekend collecting evidence from the residence, but have not yet been able to determine if the case is a homicide. He says the badly burned condition of the remains makes it very difficult to determine how the person might have died, and investigators will be looking at other evidence and conducting interviews to help retrace what the recent high school graduate was doing on the night she was reported missing.
A resident of the home in Evansville, 29-year-old Nathan Middleton, is currently in custody on a probation violation. Spoden says they know Middleton had contact with Paul after meeting her through a website, but he has not been charged with any crimes at this time. Spoden says “We’re going to proceed forward with this, but obviously we want to make sure that we have all of the facts and all of the information before we proceed with whatever criminal charges we deem are appropriate.”
Spoden says the entire situation is “very tragic” and they have been in contact with Paul’s family to make sure they can “bring some measure of comfort and closure for them.”