Community holds vigil for woman at center of death investigation - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Evansville man admits to burning body of missing woman

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Family and friends held a vigil for a missing Fitchburg woman as the investigation into her presumed death continues.

A group gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at Madison's Penn Park, to show their support for Aprina Paul's family. Paul has been missing for more than a week. Authorities have told her family she likely died at an Evansville home.

18-year-old Paul's loved ones say she had a bright future, attending Madison College's nursing school and hoping to some day care for children.

It's been a tough couple of days for her family to comprehend.

"Thank y'all for supporting us, this is hard for all of us, Aprina didn't deserve this," her mother Alice Larrue told the vigil crowd. "I'm so mad ... I think I'm more mad than hurt."
 
Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden tells 27 News investigators continue searching for more evidence in Paul's disappearance. Tuesday they searched for her phone to find answers to what happened the night investigators believe Paul died.
 
The man who lives at the Evansville home, Nathan Middleton, told authorities he picked Paul up at a home in Fitchburg-- where she was last seen-- and drove her to his home. The two met online when Paul responded to a posting for "partying".
 
Over the weekend, officials found female human remains in a fire pit at Middleton's house.
 
"[Middleton] has freely admitted that he did in fact burn the body in the fire pit where we located the human remains and he did say in fact that it was the victim, Miss Paul," Spoden tells 27 News, but says Middleton has not admitted to killing Paul.
 
Spoden says it's been one of the most difficult cases his office has investigated because of how much mis-information and rumors have been shared online.
 
Spoden says detectives plan to interview everyone connected to Middleton and Paul in order to try to retrace Paul's steps. Investigators won't be able to conduct an autopsy or do any type of drug testing, so a cause of death determination will be more difficult.
 
A Chicago lab is handling the charred bone fragments, working to positively identify the remains as Paul's. Spoden hopes to get answers this week.
 
Meanwhile, family and friends continue to wonder what happened to the woman who meant so much to them and honor her at this vigil.
 
"Every time I see her she had the biggest smile on her face, just the happiest, caring person," says friend Neporsha Hamlin. "It's just mind boggling that she's gone, it still feels unreal."
 
Despite their questions, the neighborhood is joining together to honor Paul.
 
"You're there as a community and sometimes you just gotta get together and pray together and be able to just talk and grieve," says Mayor Shawn Pfaff.
 
Pfaff says authorities will keep an eye on things in the neighborhood where Paul went missing.
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