EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSLAWTON'S FAMILY SPEAKS
from Eyewitness News Online
Family Of Man Accused In Gruesome Murder In Shock
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jan. 23, 2012 10:13 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 23, 2012 10:29 PM EST
Institute , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A family member of a man who murdered and dismembered his girlfriend speaks out for the first time.
Kanawha County Sheriff's Deputies have called off the formal search for Carol Rhim's remains in Kanawha County and along Route 35 in southeastern Ohio.
Deputies say they will continue to follow up on any leads that come in.
Investigators say Nathaniel "Nate" Lawton killed and then dismembered Rhim with a hacksaw. Lawton later killed himself while deputies were at his door, ready to serve a search warrant.
Now, for the first time since the horrific news broke, we're hearing from Lawton's family, who says they never thought he could be capable of such terror.
"I'm going to miss his smile. I'm going to miss his laugh. I'm going to miss his sense of humor. He was a wonderful, wonderful uncle," said his niece in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News.
Still trying to cope with how her uncle spent his final days, Lawton's niece asked we not show her face or identify her on camera, but wanted to speak on behalf of her family who is struggling to understand.
"We would have never have imagined this to happen in a million years," she says.
She says she's heard the rumors there were problems with Lawton and Rhim's relationship, but says there are two sides to every story.
"I want people to also look that abuse goes both ways, with women and men. It's not always the man, so you can't, you know, be judgemental on a situation that happened," she says.
She also says the couple seemed happy together and believes Nate loved Carol, and Carol loved Nate.
"You have nothing to worry about, and that's how I always felt. Her life was really safe in his hands. He would never hurt a fly," she says.
Lawton's niece says their family moved to West Virginia from D.C. for a fresh start and new opportunities. Lawton worked at the postal processing plant at the Southridge Center for almost 20 years, but his main priority was his mother, who was battling Alzheimer's.
"That was his heart, that was his life. The love of his life," his niece says.
Two families forever broken, as they try to move on from the nightmare.
"This is something that we will eventually get over but right now it's really taken a toll on the family as well as the Rhim family," she says.
Lawton's niece says her family sends their deepest condolences to the Rhim family.
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