Fear Thy Neighbor Premiered ‘Head in the Oven’ on ID: Ex-Marine William Perry Stopped Taking Meds, Unraveled & Murdered Brett Smith (June 16, 2018)

Two neighboring bachelors start out as friends. Harmless banter turns into threats eventually igniting an escalating war. The violence ends with a murder so shocking it is almost beyond belief. -Fear Thy Neighbor, Investigation Discovery (S5,E3)

Brett Smith was found murdered in his home on October 3, 2008 in North Canton, Ohio. Brett was found with a knife in his chest and dismembered; his head was found burning in the oven of his own home. It didn’t take long for police to determine that Brett’s neighbor, William Perry, was the suspect in the case. William Perry served in the Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm and was suffering from what sounds like Post Traumatic Stress. He was taking medications because he saw a lot of terrible things but he didn’t want to talk about it; the medications helped mitigate flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms like lack of concentration that interfered with daily living. William and Brett were both fixing up their homes, helping each other out, and sharing tools.

At some point, William became jealous of Brett’s home improvement efforts and all the help he appeared to get from his family. William was struggling financially to fix up his place and this bothered William because he wanted a nice place for his children when they came to visit him. William and Brett tried to make the relationship work but the two had an on again and off again kind of relationship. Brett couldn’t drink because he took medication for epilepsy and he was uncomfortable around William after he had a few drinks of alcohol. The two got confrontational when William was drinking and Brett tried to confront William about vandalism on his property including slashed tires and an oil spill that cost William thousands of dollars to remedy. Brett’s mom Judy was getting concerned and wanted him to move out of there because the fighting was escalating.

William Perry was stressed. His girlfriend Susanna Lockard shared that he owed child support and if he didn’t pay it, he was going to jail. At the same time, William decided to stop taking his medication. He said they made him feel foggy and he wanted a clear head. Susanna was concerned he would get depressed or downward spiral. And then one day, William and Brett got into an altercation in the yard and William lost control and started beating Brett with a board. The neighbors thought William was a “psycho” after this encounter and so did Brett. The neighbors were really concerned that this situation was escalating and getting dangerous. Brett reported William to the North Canton Police Department but there was no evidence of the physical encounter so there was nothing the police could do. They told him to stay away from him. Brett was confused about why William hated him so much; he didn’t know what he was doing wrong.

Susanna was leaving the home for the night so William could spend some time with his kids. When she arrived to pick up some clothes, she found William home and he didn’t look well. She learned his plans with his children had been cancelled and he was upset. William was brandishing a gun in front of his girlfriend and her daughter while asking them to leave. William was living with his girlfriend but he broke up with her and kicked her out and never explained why. Later that night, the neighbors noticed William on Brent’s porch and they were arguing. When Brett’s mom showed up to his place the next day, she got no answer and smelled smoke. Brett’s mom turned to a friend and asked him to break into Brett’s house because she was concerned. The living room was in disarray, the contents of Brett’s wallet were strewn about, and there was also paint spilled everywhere. They found Brett in the bathroom laying on the floor with a knife in his chest. He had been strangled and beheaded. The police processed the home and found paint mixed with blood everywhere.

When the police opened the oven, they found Brett’s head burning inside. Brett’s mom had a very hard time accepting her son was dead and that he had been murdered in this way. William Perry was a suspect right away. There was no doubt that William had done this and he tried to cover up the crime. Initially, William was arrested for vandalism, a felony crime, and sent to jail. While there, he wrote a letter to a friend admitting to killing Brett. He said the night he killed Brett, it started with words and escalated to physical fighting. He spent the night trying to clean up the scene and attempted to dismember Brett but gave up after he cut off his head. He tried to erase all signs that he was in Brett’s house. He was charged with murder and faced the death penalty but it never went to trial. In October 2009, William Perry made a plea deal to avoid the death penalty and pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, gross abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. The prosecutor had no rational explanation for why he did this.

“It could have been anything, anything could have triggered it. It could have been trauma, it could have been something from childhood, it could be not seeing your kids as much as you want, it could just be all the pressures building up and it just sets a chain reaction.” -Susanna Lockard (Brett’s girlfriend)

Source: Head in the Oven, Fear Thy Neighbor, Investigation Discovery

In the News:

A neighbor describes finding the grisly remains of Brett Smith, who had been beheaded in his North Canton mobile home. -CantonRep.com

Employees of LA Office Solutions in North Canton, Ohio, tell how they felt threatened during an encounter with William D. Perry, a suspect in the beheading of Brett W. Smith, a week before Smith’s death. -CantonRep.com

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Raw 911 Call: Mother Finds Sons Beheaded Body
Lake alum found murdered
Police say beheading suspect is neighbor
Neighbor suspected in N. Canton beheading case
Neighbor is ‘prime suspect’ in North Canton beheading case
Trailer park tragedy: A closer look at beheading victim, suspect
Trailer park tragedy: A closer look at beheading victim, suspect
Neighbor indicted in grisly slaying
Justice: Ohio Man Indicted In Neighbor’s Beheading
Ohio man pleads not guilty in neighbor beheading
Man admits he killed, beheaded his neighbor
North Canton man pleads guilty in beheading of neighbor at mobile home park
North Canton man admits beheading neighbor, avoids death penalty
William Perry v. Terry Tibbals, Warden (2013)
Brett Smith was murdered by his neighbor William Perry who then cut off his head and burned it in an oven – Fear Thy Neighbor
Neighbor finds beheaded man
A close encounter with beheading suspect
Head in the Oven | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (S5,E3)
Head in the Oven | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (website)
Head in the Oven | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Fear Thy Neighbor: 23 Veteran Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery

Army SSG John Russell Sentenced to Life in Prison for the Premeditated Murders of Five Fellow Soldiers at a Mental Health Clinic in Iraq (May 16, 2013)

SSG John Russell, U.S. Army

On May 11, 2009, SSG John Russell gunned down five of his fellow comrades at a mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Iraq with his M-16. It was revealed that he had an argument with someone at the clinic, left, and came back with his gun. His crimes were determined to be premeditated. He was arrested and subsequently charged with murder and aggravated assault of another soldier that was seriously injured. Days before the killings witnesses noticed that he was distant and having suicidal thoughts. He was also scheduled to leave Iraq in a few days. He was tried for the murders of his fellow comrades and found guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison. But his family feels that the Army should also take responsibility for their actions. The family believes that John was broken and not treated for the injuries he sustained in combat, in the line of duty. SSG Russell was being treated for symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress with medications but it is believed that the psychotropics the military psychiatrists prescribed to him may have played a role in his actions. He was described as a kind, caring man up until the day he committed the unforeseen murders against his fellow soldiers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Honoring the Victims:

  1. Major Matthew Houseal, 54, U.S. Army
  2. Commander Keith Springle, 52, U.S. Navy
  3. Sergeant Christian Bueno-Galdos, 25, U.S. Army
  4. Specialist Jacob Barton, 20, U.S. Army
  5. Private First Class Michael Yates, 19, U.S. Army

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Army IDs Sgt. John M. Russell as the shooter who killed 5 fellow soldiers at Iraq base
U.S. soldier charged with murder in Iraq shooting deaths
Army Sgt. that killed 5 comrades in Iraq a Sherman native
Father: Army ‘Broke’ Soldier Held in Kilings
Did Doctors Deny Iraq Shooter’s Stress?
U.S. Soldier Charged in Baghdad Shooting Was Due to Leave Iraq Soon
Horror and stresses of Iraq duty led US sergeant to kill comrades
When PTSD Comes Marching Home
Military Mental Health Crisis Exposed With Camp Liberty Killings
Trial date set in case of officer’s murder
Wait for court-martial in fratricide case frustrates victim’s family
Army judge orders soldier who killed five in Iraq to be hypnotised
Army sergeant pleads guilty to 2009 killing of fellow soldiers
US soldier ‘coolly smoked a cigarette’ before shooting dead five of his comrades in Iraq, court hears
US soldier who shot five troops was ‘broken’ by counsellors
Judge: Soldier premeditated murder of 5 at Iraq combat stress clinic
U.S. soldier found guilty of 5 premeditated killings in Iraq
Sgt. John Russell: Wrenching testimony in penalty phase
Soldier who killed fellow U.S. troops in Iraq gets life sentence
US army sergeant jailed for life over Iraq killings
Psychiatry in the Military: The Hidden Enemy—Full Documentary
Violent Crime at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Army SSG John Russell Killed Five Fellow Soldiers at a Mental Health Clinic in Iraq; Found Guilty of Premeditated Murder, Sentenced to Life in Prison (May 11, 2009)

Army SSG John Russell Killed Five Fellow Soldiers at a Mental Health Clinic in Iraq; Found Guilty of Premeditated Murder, Sentenced to Life in Prison (May 11, 2009)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Honoring the Victims:

  1. Major Matthew Houseal, 54, U.S. Army
  2. Commander Keith Springle, 52, U.S. Navy
  3. Sergeant Christian Bueno-Galdos, 25, U.S. Army
  4. Specialist Jacob Barton, 20, U.S. Army
  5. Private First Class Michael Yates, 19, U.S. Army

On May 11, 2009, SSG John Russell gunned down five of his fellow comrades at a mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Iraq with his M-16. It was revealed that he had an argument with someone at the clinic, left, and came back with his gun. His crimes were determined to be premeditated. He was arrested and subsequently charged with murder and aggravated assault of another soldier that was seriously injured. Days before the killings witnesses noticed that he was distant and having suicidal thoughts. He was also scheduled to leave Iraq in a few days. He was tried for the murders of his fellow comrades and found guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison on May 16, 2013. But his family feels that the Army should also take responsibility for their actions. The family believes that John was broken and not treated for the injuries he sustained in combat, in the line of duty. SSG Russell was being treated for symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress with medications but it is believed that the psychotropics the military psychiatrists prescribed to him may have played a role in his actions. He was described as a kind, caring man up until the day he committed the unforeseen murders against his fellow soldiers.

SSG John Russell, U.S. Army

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Navy Casualty
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
Army IDs Sgt. John M. Russell as the shooter who killed 5 fellow soldiers at Iraq base
U.S. soldier charged with murder in Iraq shooting deaths
Army Sgt. that killed 5 comrades in Iraq a Sherman native
Father: Army ‘Broke’ Soldier Held in Kilings
Did Doctors Deny Iraq Shooter’s Stress?
U.S. Soldier Charged in Baghdad Shooting Was Due to Leave Iraq Soon
Horror and stresses of Iraq duty led US sergeant to kill comrades
When PTSD Comes Marching Home
Military Mental Health Crisis Exposed With Camp Liberty Killings
Trial date set in case of officer’s murder
Wait for court-martial in fratricide case frustrates victim’s family
Army judge orders soldier who killed five in Iraq to be hypnotised
Army sergeant pleads guilty to 2009 killing of fellow soldiers
US soldier ‘coolly smoked a cigarette’ before shooting dead five of his comrades in Iraq, court hears
US soldier who shot five troops was ‘broken’ by counsellors
Judge: Soldier premeditated murder of 5 at Iraq combat stress clinic
U.S. soldier found guilty of 5 premeditated killings in Iraq
Sgt. John Russell: Wrenching testimony in penalty phase
Soldier who killed fellow U.S. troops in Iraq gets life sentence
US army sergeant jailed for life over Iraq killings
Psychiatry in the Military: The Hidden Enemy—Full Documentary
Violent Crime at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Army SSG John Russell Sentenced to Life in Prison for the Premeditated Murders of Five Fellow Soldiers at a Mental Health Clinic in Iraq (May 16, 2013)

The Denver Post Published ‘Waging Internal War’: An Examination of the Army’s Tendency to Deploy Soldiers Who Need Medication Management (August 26, 2008)

An event on the Auraria campus aimed to help community members understand mental health issues in returning veterans. -The Denver Post (November 17, 2011)

“Chad Barrett’s war on terror started in the hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when he was called to help dig bodies out of a smoking Pentagon. It ended Feb. 2, 2008, in Mosul, Iraq, when his roommate awoke to find him gasping and gurgling, with foam coming from his mouth. Barrett had been cleared for a third combat tour in Iraq despite a recent suicide attempt, crushing headaches and a mental illness treated with medication for anxiety and depression. Two months after he arrived, he killed himself by swallowing an unknown number of pills. He was the sixth soldier from Fort Carson to commit suicide in Iraq. At least 10 others have killed themselves in the U.S., nine after returning from the war.” -David Olinger & Erin Emery, The Denver Post (August 26, 2008)

An analysis of the information showed that:

• Army suicides in Iraq tripled in three years, from 10 in 2004 to 32 in 2007.

• In 2006 and 2007, 20 of the 59 soldiers who killed themselves in Iraq were deployed from a single base — Fort Hood in Texas.

• Fourteen of the soldiers who killed themselves in Iraq were 19 years old. Nearly half were 23 or younger.

Read more ‘Waging Internal War’ from The Denver Post here.

Related Links:
Understanding Mental Health in Veterans
Waging internal war – The Denver Post

Fort Hood Army Soldier Pfc. Melissa Hobart Collapsed and Died from an Undetermined Cause While on Guard Duty in Baghdad, Iraq (June 6, 2004)

Melissa Hobart

Pfc. Melissa Hobart, US Army

Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart, 22, died after collapsing on guard duty in Baghdad, Iraq on June 6, 2004. Pfc. Hobart was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) on behalf of the Company E, 215th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas. At the time of the Department of Defense press release, the incident was under investigation. Pfc. Hobart left behind a three-year-old daughter. According to Melissa’s memorial site, military officials believe Melissa suffered from a heart attack. Melissa’s mom Connie Hobart told the Hartford Courant that she was put on an anti-depressant shortly before deploying to Iraq and was still feeling depressed. Connie reported in 2006 that the official word from the military, two years later, was that she died of an undetermined cause.

Connie Hobart’s 22-year-old daughter, Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart, was put on an anti-depressant shortly before deploying and had told her mother that she remained depressed while in Baghdad. Three months into her tour, in June 2004, the East Haven native collapsed and died of a still-undetermined cause. Told of the policy changes Monday, Connie Hobart said, “I’m happy to hear about it. That’s good news.” Sobbing, she said her daughter might be alive today if the policy had been different at the time. –Hartford Courant

Related Links:
Pfc. Melissa Jennifer Hobart (1981-2004)
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Melissa Hobart | Hartford Courant
Army Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart | Honor the Fallen
Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart | The Washington Post
Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight — (The Hartford Courant)
Is There an Army Cover Up of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)