Law enforcement officials confirmed at a press conference in Vandalia this afternoon that the decomposed body found at an abandoned home on Limit St. in Vandalia is Jennifer Middleton, listed as age 38, of Vandalia.
“We have identified the remains as Jennifer Middleton, the person that was reported missing,” Vandalia Police Chief Hammann said at the beginning of the press conference. “We were able to confirm that through dental records.”
Chief Hammann said on Monday, May 8, a family member of the deceased provided a DNA sample. That sample was later matched up with records made available through Middleton’s past prison time serving in the Department of Corrections (WERDCC). Chief Hammann said her records were “fast-tracked” to law enforcement officials and within an hour of receiving them, officials were able to identify the human remains.
“I would like to thank the Department of Corrections for handing over the records so that we can give closure to the family,” Chief Hammann noted as he also said the family had no comment as of the time of the press conference.
The autopsy report was done “unofficially” that day. Middleton’s family was told about the identification during the morning of Monday, May 15.
Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller said the autopsy did reveal some things that are keeping law enforcement officials from ruling out foul play as of press time.
“What was noted during the autopsy keeps us from being able to say that it was a natural death,” Sheriff Oller noted.
No timetable was given for how long the human remains were at the location. He said determinations are still being sought from a forensic anthropologist. It was noted that other cases, like the death of a missing Fulton man that has been in the news, are investigations ahead of the Vandalia incident for forensics.
It may take a few more days before the forensic anthropologist can make a determination.
Sheriff Oller did say the decomposition of the body was “fairly substantial.” Their timeline shows that its possible Middleton’s body could have been buried as far back as December 2014.
Investigators are still asking for anyone with information regarding Middleton during the short time up leading up to her death to come forward to provide any information they may know.
“We would like to urge anybody who has any information about Ms. Middleton or her associates or the last short span up to the point that she was last seen we’re really interested in that information. So if anybody has that we would abhor them to contact either the Vandalia Police Department or the Sheriff’s Office.”
Those with information can call 573-594-3344.
The press conference can be viewed at https://youtu.be/3MXO4e57zZ0.
Lue admits to burying woman in floor of his home
John Herman Lue’s side of the story was revealed in a Probable Cause Statement taken by Audrain County Sheriff Deputy Nicholas Tietsort.
According to the report, Lue told Deputy Tietsort that on December 26, 2015, Lue returned to his 801 Limit St. home to find Jennifer Middleton, age 38, in bed. Lue reportedly said Middleton told her that she was cold and was unable to warm herself. As the two laid in bed together, Middleton reportedly became deceased and Lue then buried her in the floor of his residence.
Deputy Tietsort, in his report, also said Lue made statements that he was “dealing with this” for “over two years.” He noted that Lue may have mistakenly stated December 26, 2015 when it could have actually been December 26, 2014.
Lue is still in the Audrain County Jail after being arrested at the abandoned Limit St. home two weeks ago.
At that time, official charges were filed against him for the abandonment of a corpse.