NEWS

Is arrest linked to beheading?

Staff reports

Police have arrested a neighbor and acquaintance of a man whose headless body was body was found Saturday at a North Canton trailer park.

William D. Perry, 41, was arrested Monday morning in Canton and charged with felony vandalism.

He is accused of smashing Brett W. Smith’s electric meter outside Smith’s home inside the Evergreen Mobile Home Court days before Smith was killed.

Perry lives a block away from Smith’s home.

Investigators refuse to say if there’s more of a connection between Perry’s arrest and Smith’s murder.

Police Chief Michael Grimes won’t say if Perry is a suspect in Smith’s death.

“We can’t respond one way or another on that,” Grimes said Tuesday.

Police got a warrant and searched Perry’s property shortly after finding Smith’s body, records show. The results of that search have not been made public.

Smith also filed a complaint with police Aug. 19, alleging Perry hit him in the face. It was reviewed by the Canton city prosecutor, but no charge was filed.

The vandalism warrant -- issued by North Canton police Monday -- landed Perry in jail, charged with a fourth-degree felony.

The American Electric Power Co. meter at the center of the charge is valued at about $1,000, according to reports.

Smith’s mother, Judy Smith, and his neighbor Christopher Conley discovered Brett Smith’s decapitated body inside his trailer.

“Nobody has reason to be scared. If there was reason to be scared, we’d put that information out,” said Grimes, adding that the community is safe.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to piece together the events leading up to Smith’s killing.

Grisly discovery

Conley said he was approached by Smith’s mom Saturday night. She had gone looking for her son when he didn’t show up for dinner or for a regular playdate with his 4-year-old niece.

Judy Smith said she was concerned for her son’s welfare.

Conley said she asked if he would break into Smith’s trailer for her. Conley said he used a crowbar to pry open the door, and what he found inside keeps him awake at night.

“I told her, ‘That looks like blood on the wall,’” Conley said, recalling entering the trailer. As he grabbed a flashlight off the refrigerator, he said the oven door was open and there was “burnt stuff” on the rack.

“I looked in the bathroom and there it (Smith’s body) was on the floor,” Conley said. “I booked it out of there.”

Investigators said the head was found inside but have not disclosed where it was, how long Smith had been dead or other details.

Conley’s shoes still were stained with the light blue paint he walked on upon entering Smith’s trailer. Conley said the paint covered the floor down the hallway and into Smith’s bathroom.

Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero confirmed that paint was “thrown about” the trailer. It appears whoever is responsible was trying to cover up evidence at the scene, Ferrero said.

Conley said Smith and Perry had arguments in the past, but the three were working together renovating their trailers.

“I called him (Perry) and told him what happened. He was like, ‘No way,’” Conley said. “He (Perry) was asking me what was going on. Perry asked if there was a lot of police down there.

“He (Perry) didn’t seem like the kind of person who would go hack someone’s head off,” Conley said.

Stark County Coroner P.S. Murthy said Tuesday’s autopsy showed Smith’s death is a “homicide, there was no question about it. He was decapitated, no question about it. I don't want to say anything that may compromise the investigation.”

Canton Repository