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Medina native killed, dismembered in West Virginia

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Posted: Sunday, January 22, 2012 8:32 am | Updated: 1:05 pm, Sun Jan 22, 2012.

A Medina native was killed last week and her body dismembered by her boyfriend in their West Virginia apartment, authorities said.

The boyfriend then killed himself two days later when police came to the apartment.

Police say Carol Ann Rhim, 53, a native of Medina, was killed Tuesday by her boyfriend, Nathaniel Roy Lawton, 54, of Institute, according to the Charleston Gazette newspaper.

Institute is a suburb of Charleston.

Lawton shot himself in the head Thursday night as police were executing a search warrant at the apartment, said Chief Deputy Johnny Rutherford of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies were acting on a tip from an informant. They believe Lawton killed Rhim Jan. 17 inside the apartment, then Lawton cut off her head and hands, the Gazette reported.

Police called it one of the most gruesome crimes they had ever seen.

Rhim's head and hands were found in the trunk of Lawton's car, police said. Deputies believe Lawton hoped this would hide her identity if her body was found.

Authorities are still trying to find the rest of Rhim’s body. Lawton had been spotted in Ohio after the murder and police believe Rhim's body may have been left along a highway there.

Rhim and Lawton, a postal worker, had been living together for about two years and were reportedly engaged, but recently had been having domestic problems, police said.

Carol Rhim’s daughter, Kiara Rhim, 30, of Medina said her mother told family members that Lawton threatened to kill her if she ever left him, the Gazette reported.

Kiara Rhim said her mother lived and raised four children in Medina and was well known in the Orleans County community. She worked as a teacher's aide for most of her life before taking on factory work, the Gazette reported.

Carol Rhim moved to West Virginia about five years ago for a fresh start and to be closer to her brother, who lives in Charleston.

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