The case of

Brett W. Smith 


Brett W. Smith 

Victim Race

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Victim Date of Birth

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Victim Age
Date Reported

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Date of Death

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Case Status

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Incident Location

North Canton, Ohio

Body Location

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Date of Conviction

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Body Discovered Date

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Who was Brett Smith?

Brett Smith was born in 1974, he lived most of his life in North Canton, Ohio, graduating Lake High School in 1993. The nickname he had from his family was Bubba, he is remembered by his loved ones as being hard-working and helpful, with an interest in music and fishing. He never married and never had children and was seen as a loner.

Bret was known to have had epilepsy and bipolar disorder and loved nothing more than spending time with his niece. Something which he did at least once a week. He was 5 ft 9 and had a speech impediment, which led some neighbors to think he was mentally slow, although this was not the case. He actually had a side job working with computers to supplement his income.

He was on disability and lived with his mum, Judy,  for most of his life. His dad and brother had passed away, leaving him and his mum with a very strong bond. He had decided to gain some independence by moving out to live on his own. He managed to buy himself a trailer. He would often get his hands dirty, fixing up his trailer as he was excited by his future.

After Brett and his cat, Tigger moved into the trailer in 2008, he became acquaintances with all of his neighbors. One of his new friends was his neighbor Christopher; they often sat together on the porch chatting about life. They also befriended a newcomer in the trailer park called William Perry. William told them that he had been in the marines, and after being in an operation called desert storm, he had been suffering from PTSD.

All three men would often help each other by fixing up their trailers, and doing odd jobs. Although both Brett and Christopher knew that William liked to drink, so when he became drunk, they would often walk away from him and leave him be.

In August 2008, Brett called the police to tell them that William had been beating him. A fight had occurred after Brett accused William of vandalism. He claimed Perry had slashed his tires and caused a costly oil spill. After the accusation, Perry grabbed a board and started beating Brett with it. No charges ended up being filed, but Brett made the decision not to hang out with Perry anymore.

Around a month later, in September, Brett would return home to find his electric meter had been smashed. This incident led to a charge of vandalism against Perry.

The Victim Was Found Dead/Start of The Crime

On October 3rd, Brett had told his mum that he would be over for dinner and to see his niece, he never let his niece down, so his mum found it very suspicious when he did not show up. He didn’t answer his phone, despite numerous voicemails left by his mum. Brett Smith’s mum did not worry too much that evening, as she knew he had recently changed his medication so that could probably explain his absence.

The morning of October 4th, when Brett Smith’s mum had not heard from him, she got increasingly worried. By 2:30 pm, she drove round to Brett’s house and knocked on the door but got no response, she left and came back at around 5 pm, and once again, nobody answered. She alerted authorities at around 7 pm, but they told her they could not break into the property without good reason.

Judy then got the idea to go over to Christopher’s trailer to get his help gaining entry to Brett’s trailer. Christopher of course helped; using a crowbar he gained access to the trailer. As they entered, the pair noticed some unidentified burnt stuff smoldering in the oven, which also had a sticky substance leaking out of it.

Upon further inspection, they discovered blue and white paint splattered all over the kitchen. They followed the trail of this paint all the way to the bathroom. They discovered Brett’s lifeless and headless body, wrapped in plastic with a knife in his chest. The paint was also thrown all over his body. This scene would soon be known as the Canton Beheading.

The Crime Description

According to William Douglas Perry, it started as just an argument that escalated to physical fighting. During this fighting, he basically strangled 34-year-old Brett Smith. After this, he spent the rest of the night trying to dismember Brett, but it was hard work so he gave up on that idea. He then splattered paint everywhere, hoping it would cover up the blood. That night’s gross scene and actions would be known as the Canton Beheading.

During the autopsy, it was discovered that Brett had fractures to his ribs and a fracture to his Hyoid bone in the neck, a hemorrhage on his head, and evidence of blunt force trauma all over his body.

Suspect or Convicted Killer Details

William Perry was 42 years old, twice divorced, and had two children with his second wife. He had a criminal past that he liked to keep a secret from others. His criminal past was scattered with drug, burglary, and assault charges. He was an alcoholic who had attended AA meetings in the past and was known to be a mean drunk. He was responsible for the Canton Beheading.

Investigation Details

After discovering her son’s headless body, Judy called 9 1 1. When the police arrived, they discovered that his fingers and toes had also been severed, with one finger and thumb located by the toilet. They inspected the oven and started unwrapping the unknown item covered in cloth and newspapers. It was here they discovered Brett’s charred head. They soon discovered that cigarettes and money were missing from the property, but they also discovered a silver bracelet lying on the floor.

During the investigation, the police discovered a couple who lived close by, Barb and James Hansen, had been remodeling their trailer around the time of the murder. They had thrown a sink into their yard, and William Perry had seen this and gone over to ask if he could have it. They told him, no, and this infuriated Perry. He was very irate and cussing at James, which is when James noticed that Perry was wearing a silver bracelet.

Later that day, the day of the murder, the Hansen’s were leaving the trailer park to get some dinner, and they made note that they witnessed Perry outside Brett’s open front door, and the pair were having a very heated argument.

James was able to identify the bracelet as belonging to William D. Perry. It did not take long for Perry to be the prime suspect. They also found a sock by Perry’s porch with his DNA inside and Brett’s blood on the outside. They found Perry at his girlfriend’s house and took him into custody. Although, the police decided they needed more evidence to secure a conviction.

A year later after the Canton Beheading, Perry was still proclaiming his innocence. His girlfriend moved out of her house, and when the new residents moved in, they discovered two trash bags inside an air duct. The bags contained clothes, shoes, boots, and a 9mm handgun. The clothing and shoes were all stained with paint, blood, and bleach. Around this time, Perry also confessed in a letter to a friend from prison.

Trial and Verdict

On October 15th, 2009, William Perry changed his plea from not guilty to guilty to take a plea deal that would spare him the death penalty.

Judge Lee Sinclair sentenced Perry to life in prison without the possibility of parole for Brett W. Smith’s aggravated murder.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did Brett Smith Die?

Brett W. Smith was strangled to death, and later after he was dead, he was decapitated. This would be known as the Canton Beheading.

Who Killed Brett Smith?

William Douglas Perry killed his neighbor Brett Smith by strangulation and then proceeded to decapitate his corpse and hide the head in the oven. This would be known as the Canton Beheading.

Where is William Perry Now?

After the Canton Beheading, he is currently incarcerated at the Marion Correctional Institution in Marion, Ohio serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of Brett Smith.