Woman found dead inside barrel in Middletown remembered as ‘bubbly’

A Preble County woman was identified Tuesday as the person found inside a barrel last week that police say was tossed over a fence when police arrived to investigate a tip.

Cecily S. Cornett, 21, of the Somerville area, was identified using dental records, said Martin Schneider, Butler County Coroner’s Office administrator. Her cause and manner of death are listed as pending.

William Slaton, 35, of 3200 block of Yankee Road, is facing felony charges for allegedly cutting off the fingers and tattoos of Cornett then putting her in a barrel. He said he woke up after using drugs and found her hanging in the basement of the home.

MORE: Police: Man accused of hiding body in barrel said he found woman hanging in basement

Slaton is charged with gross abuse of a corpse, failure to report a crime or death and tampering with evidence. He is housed on the Middletown City Jail and scheduled to be in court today for a preliminary hearing.

Teresa Sheppard’s son and Cornett went to Preble Shawnee schools together in Preble County. Sheppard described her as “bubbly.”

“She will be truly missed,” Sheppard said. “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. It was a present for her grandma. Her smile and bubbly personality would always put a smile on my face.”

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.

Middletown police were called around 1 p.m. on June 30 to Slaton’s home to investigate a tip about a dead woman in a barrel on the property. When police knocked on the door and told Slaton about the complaint, he refused to let officers inside. He went back into the house, ran out the back and dumped the barrel over a fence into a neighbor’s yard, Middletown police Maj. Scott Reeve said.

When officers opened the barrel, they found a nude woman’s body.

MORE: Woman’s body found inside barrel in Middletown; man jailed

Slaton said he put the pieces of her body in a sealed bowl and hid the fingers and skin in the basement, according to the complaint. He allowed the woman’s body to lay in the basement for a few days before he placed her in the drum in the backyard.

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A woman who lived in Slaton’s house called a relative to share information about the woman’s death, and that person, who lives out of state, called police.

“There is supposed to be a person who died of an overdose three day ago at (3200 block of) Yankee Road. As far as I know the body is still there that’s what I was told,” the caller told the 911 dispatcher on Tuesday. “She said somebody overdosed a few days ago and somebody put it in a 55-gallon drum in the backyard.”

Bond was set at $210,000 on Wednesday for Slaton. More charges are possible once the autopsy is complete and the case is reviewed by the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, said Reeve.

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