Case against man who allegedly hid woman in barrel bound over for grand jury

The case against a Middletown man who allegedly found a female friend hanging in his basement then cut off her fingers and several tattoos was bound over Wednesday afternoon to a Butler County grand jury.

Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron said the prosecution proved probable cause against William Slaton, 35, of 3200 block of Yankee Road. Slaton is charged with gross abuse of a corpse, failure to report a crime or death and tampering with evidence after police found Cecily S. Cornett, 21, of Somerville, stuffed in a metal barrel. Sherron kept Slaton’s bond at $210,000.

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More charges are possible once the autopsy is complete and the case is reviewed by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, said Middletown police Maj. Scott Reeve.

As Slaton was led back to City Jail, a man who sat in the courtroom through the preliminary hearing stormed out of the room. Police said the man was Cornett’s uncle.

Middletown detective Ken Mynhier testified that when police knocked on Slaton’s door on June 30, they told him they were there for a report of a possible dead body on the property. That’s when Slaton ran back into the house, then allegedly threw a barrel over his fence into a neighbor’s back yard, Mynhier said.

When police opened the barrel, they saw a nude female’s two legs, he said. Slaton allegedly told police Cornett died four or five days earlier, he found her hanging in the basement after he woke up after using drugs and placed her in a barrel two days later.

He also told police he used a knife to cut off her fingers and two or three of her tattoos. He placed the body parts in a Tupperware container and hid it in the basement, Mynhier said.

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Cornett was identified by the Butler County Coroner’s Office one week after her body was found. She was identified using dental records, said Martin Schneider, Butler County Coroner’s Office administrator. Her cause and manner of death are listed as pending.

Defense attorney Morgan Kohler asked Mynhier how he thought Cornett died. He wasn’t qualified to answer that question, he said. When Kohler asked other questions regarding the case, prosecutor Ashley Bretland objected saying it’s an active investigation.

Slaton has a criminal history. In 2011, he was indicted by a Butler County grand jury on 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, according to Butler County Clerk of Courts records. Slaton pleaded guilty to six of the felony charges and the remainder of the counts were merged.

Then Butler County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Nastoff sentenced Slaton to seven years in prison for the child pornography charges. He was released from prison in May 2018 and is on supervision through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

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