The People's Tribune

Human Remains Found In Vandalia Identified As Missing Woman

Officials Seek Information From Public To Track The Final Days Of Jennifer Lynn Middleton

Human remains that were discovered at an abandoned home in Vandalia last week have been positively identified as the body of Jennifer Lynn Middleton, the 38-year-old woman who had been reported missing last month by her family.

Jennifer Middleton

Vandalia Police Chief Chris Hammann and Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller discussed the ongoing investigation in a press conference on Monday, May 15. Oller noted Middleton’s death has not been classified as a homicide at this time, though autopsy results lead investigators to believe her death was the result of foul play. Oller said it is a “suspicious death” at this time.

Hammann explained that dental records and DNA were used to confirm the identification of Middleton. He noted the Department of Corrections fast-tracked a request as she was incarcerated for forgery in 2006.

“I want to thank the Department of Corrections for releasing the records so we were able to give closure to the family.”

He notified Middleton’s family earlier that day after the identification was made.

The abandoned home on Limit Street near the brick plant is owned by 58-year-old John Herman Lue II. He has allegedly admitted to being present with Middleton at the time of her death over two years ago. He has further reportedly admitted to burying her body in the floor of the home after she died in a bed they shared. Currently Lue is in custody on the felony charge of abandoning a corpse. However, officials say more charges may be added as the investigation unfolds.

Middleton’s family reported her missing last month, though she had not been seen for more than two years. Her family noted that it was not unusual for her to be out of touch for long stretches of time.

Sheriff Oller said the remains that were uncovered on Saturday, May 6 were in poor condition.

“There was a lot of decomposition and deterioration,” Oller said. “The decomposition was fairly substantial.”

He added that based on other items found, she may have died up to two years and five months ago.

“Further testing is needed.”

John Lue

Oller said Middleton’s remains will now be inspected by a forensic anthropologist who will be able to shed more light on the case. After her body was exhumed, her remains were taken to the University of Missouri in Columbia for investigation by a medical examiner.

Officials declined to give further details into the findings of the medical examiner, expect to say that it does not appear she died of natural causes due to abnormalities.

Hammann said the circumstances leading up to her death are what officials are concentrating efforts on at this time.

“We urge anyone who has any information about when she was last seen to call.”

Oller noted it is difficult to piece together her final days because “memories fade and people move away” but that any information that can be provided will be beneficial to the investigation. He explained that officials are trying to track her movements leading up to her death.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Vandalia Police Department at 573-594-3344 or the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department at 573-473-5801.

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