When a man, previously convicted of child pornography, woke after a night of drug-taking, he found a naked girl hanging in his basement. What he did after making the horrific discovery is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl.
William Slaton, a 35-year-old Ohio man, was arrested on felony charges after police found the mutilated corpse of a young female in a barrel on his property. Acting on a tip about a body, police officers arrived at Slaton’s home at 3221 Yankee Road in Middletown and knocked on the door. They told Slaton about the complaint, but he refused to let them inside. It wasn’t long, however, before he was spotted in the backyard.
After refusing to let officers in, Slaton went back into his house and quickly ran out the back to his cluttered yard. There, officers saw him tossing a barrel over his backyard fence and into his neighbor’s yard, Middletown police Maj. Scott Reeve said, according to Dayton Daily News. When officers opened the barrel, they discovered a young woman’s naked body.
The body was not only naked and stuffed into the steel drum, but it was also mutilated and covered in blowflies, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Using dental records, the corpse was later identified by the Butler County Coroner’s Office as the remains of 21-year-old Cecily Cornett, a young woman from the Somerville area of Preble County who loved to hunt and fish.
Investigators, of course, wanted answers. Slaton, whose criminal record includes a conviction for child pornography, told detectives that he found Cornett’s body after a night of taking drugs. According to Slaton, he went downstairs after waking up and discovered Cornett hanging in his basement. Rather than call the authorities, however, he decided to mutilate her corpse.
Slaton cut off all of Cornett’s fingers and removed her tattoos with a razor. He then put the severed fingers and skin into a sealed Tupperware bowl and hid them in his basement. During an interview with police, Slaton allegedly admitting to then leaving Cornett’s naked body in his basement for several days before he stuffed it into the drum in his cluttered backyard, Daily Mail reported.
When an unnamed woman, living in Slaton’s home, called a relative in Tennessee and shared information with them about Cornett’s death, the relative tipped off police. “There is supposed to be a person who died of an overdose three days ago,” the unnamed caller told a 911 dispatcher. “As far as I know, the body is still there that’s what I was told,” the caller continued. “She said somebody overdosed a few days ago and somebody put it in a 55-gallon drum in the backyard.”
Cecily Cornett’s mother, Marilyn Hardy Cornett, called into question the allegation that her daughter died of a drug overdose, insisting that could not be the cause of death. In a Facebook post, she said her daughter was not a drug addict and that the young woman was “loved.” She shared recent as well as many childhood pictures of Cecily, a physically fit former cheerleader who loved fishing and hunting with her “Papaw.”
“For everyone spreading rumors or telling lies……. our daughter Cecily Cornett was not unloved and was not homeless and was not a drug addict,” Marilyn Hardy Cornett wrote in all caps in her post. “She was very loved and 21 …..Some sick evil demon monster took and mutilated her beautiful body for a reason……. and he will pay for it!!!!!”
Others described Cecily Cornett as “bubbly.” Saying she would “be truly missed,” Teresa Sheppard, who’s son went to Preble Shawnee schools with Cornett, fondly shared memories of the young woman. “The memory I will cherish of Cecily was when she came over to pick up a few starter plants of a lilac bush I have,” Sheppard recalled. “It was a present for her grandma. Her smile and bubbly personality would always put a smile on my face.”
Although the cause and manner of Cornett’s death were not disclosed, William Slaton was arrested and charged with gross abuse of a corpse, evidence-tampering, and failure to report a crime or death. He could face additional charges, pending the results of Cornett’s autopsy. His bond was set at $210,000, but this isn’t William Slaton’s first run-in with the law.
William Slaton has a criminal history that is incredibly depraved. He was charged with eight counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance and four counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor in 2011. He pleaded guilty to six child pornography counts and the remainder of the counts were merged, Butler County’s Journal-News reported. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
After serving years behind bars, Slaton was released on supervision through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in May 2018. It’s often said, however, that those who commit sex crimes involving children simply cannot be and are never really rehabilitated. William Slaton seems to prove that to be true. Seven years behind bars simply wasn’t long enough. Monsters like this should never see the light of day again.