Prosecutor speaks out on murder investigation

Adair County prosecutor, Matt Wilson

A Kirksville man is charged with brutally murdering a man with a knife, dismembering a portion of the victim and also starting several fires.

Paul Potter, 49, is charged with arson in the second degree and tampering with a motor vehicle.

Authorities were called to Valley Forge Drive to a report of an engulfed vehicle and another one that had attempted to be set on fire.

Officers and other witnesses observed Potter throw two objects, later identified as human arms toward witnesses.

Officers found the dismembered body in one of two apartments that had been set on fire.

The body appeared to have injury to the face; sternum and both arms were severed.

Potter was charged with second degree murder.

KTVO spoke with Adair County Prosecutor Matt Wilson about the case.

KTVO: Did Potter admit to the crimes?

: I'm not going to get into the specifics of the case because we want to make sure we maintain the integrity of the investigation as well as the integrity of the judicial system.

KTVO: Do you anticipate an insanity defense?

: This is a very complex case. Thereâ??s a lot going into determining what still needs to happen still at this point. So itâ??s really too early to comment on that. That will be something his defense attorney will have to examine with him.

KTVO: If he is found guilty what type of punishment could he be facing?

Wilson: The murder in the second degree is a minimum of ten years in the department of corrections up to life in prison. On the arson case and tampering with a motor vehicle case it's a period of incarceration of anywhere up to a year in the county jail or up to seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections with a fine of $1,000 or any combination of prison time or fine.

KTVO: When will the first hearing be?

Wilson: We don't know yet when Mr. Potter will appear in court.

KTVO: Do you know if the two knew each other?

Wilson: It's still too early to really tell on that and it's an ongoing investigation and as those facts come out we'll use those in determining where we need to go.

The other thing I want to point out is that while this began as a Kirksville Police Department, Fire Department investigation with the car it ballooned real quick obviously and through the efforts of the Sheriffsâ?? Office and the Highway Patrol and Trumanâ??s Department of Public Safety Fire Department, Police Department or coroner and my office everybody was needed that night and everybody will continue to be needed to further the investigation and to continue to determine everything that we need to know in order to move forward.

They worked very swiftly and it was very organized. Again the mobile response team...the mobile command unit... where we can sit down and meet before anybody left the scene everybody had clear responsibilities and again and it's important in such a complex case that everybody accepted what needed to be done and then just went and did it and so I'm grateful for the efforts of all of those agencies and all of the officers and individuals who responded and are continuing to work so hard on the case.

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Witnesses to gruesome homicide speak out