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Man charged with abandonment of Vandalia corpse accused of burying it inside home

UPDATE 5/9: ABC 17 News has confirmed that Lue told a woman that Middleton, his girlfriend, died in his presence and that he buried her inside of his home in Vandalia.

On Friday, Lue also told police that on Dec. 26, 2015, he came home to Middleton in bed. She told him that she was cold and could not get herself warm. Lue said that they layed in bed until she died and then he buried her in the floor of his home.

UPDATE (11:00 p.m.): Audrain County authorities said the man arrested and charged with abandonment of a corpse owned the property where the body was found.

Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller said his deputies, as well as Vandalia officers, received information about a missing person report. The woman, Jennifer Middleton, was reported missing Wednesday. On Friday, investigators received information on her possible location.

“We did recover some human remains out of the house on the 800 block of Limit Street,” Oller said. “We can’t confirm that that’s the missing female that we’re looking for. Obviously, some forensic and lab work needs to be done.”

When asked how long he thought the body had been in the home, Oller said “a long time.”

An FBI team out of St. Louis was called in to help with the removal of the body. The team used shovels and rakes in their investigation and had visible dirt on their white-hazmat suits.

“(The body) was buried,” Oller said.

Oller said John Herman Lue II was arrested Friday night and charged on Saturday with abandonment of a corpse. Oller would only say Lue was an acquaintance of Middleton. Oller said Lue is the property owner where the body was found.

Because of the decomposition of the body, Oller said it will take time to get a positive identification.

“We have some work to do to take some DNA standards from known relatives and submit those to the lab,” Oller said.

Vandalia Police Chief Chris Hammann said Middleton had not been seen in about two years.

“We did receive information that the last time anyone had seen her in Vandalia was approximately April 2015,” Hammann said. “There was no activity from her. We checked multiple sources that she was in touch with.”

Hammann said the collaboration between Vandalia and Audrain County helped speed the investigation along.

“Some names came up, we interviewed a lot of people, we worked with the sheriff’s office,” Hammann said. “It was a big puzzle spread over a lot of area and we were able to put it together with the departments we have and that’s what led us here.”

Oller also said the FBI in St. Louis was a big help in their investigation.

“I want to thank the FBI for sending out their evidence recovery team from St. Louis,” Oller said. “We requested those guys come out here because we kind of had an idea of what we were dealing with. They were fabulous.”

Oller said the FBI team was requested because of their expertise and different resources.

“For trying to exhume what we suspect is an aged dead body, you obviously want to do everything you can to do it right,” Oller said. “The FBI has great resources. They got called at 9 p.m. last night and were here at 2 p.m. this afternoon.”

UPDATE (7:30 p.m.): Authorities confirm a body was found inside the abandoned home in the 800 block of West Limit Street in Vandalia Saturday evening.

Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller said they have taken one man into custody on suspicion of abandonment of a corpse. Oller said John Herman Lue is an acquaintance of the missing woman who has been identified as Jennifer Middleton. She was reported missing by her family on April 26, but has not been seen in the Vandalia area since April 2015.

Oller could not confirm whether the body found Saturday was that of Middleton due to decomposition. He said the body was buried inside the home and had been there for a long time.

ORIGINAL: Sheriff Matt Oller with the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the FBI Evidence Recovery Team from St. Louis is searching a home in the 800 block of West Limit Street in Vandalia.

Sheriff Oller said the Vandalia Police Department took a missing person’s report earlier in the week. He said investigators recently received information that the missing woman may be dead inside a vacant house on West Limit.

Oller said the sheriff’s office and police department began investigating the tip Friday.

As of 3 p.m. Saturday, Oller could not confirm whether the missing woman’s body was found inside the house or if foul play was believed to be involved.

ABC 17 News has crews on the way to Vandalia to get more information.

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