Man accused of 1st-degree murder in Jennifer Barrett case known to Ontario justice system

The man charged with first-degree murder of a woman from Sudbury has an extensive criminal record in Ontario.

Perez Adaryll Cleveland charged with several Criminal Code offences in Ontario since 1995

The man charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Jennifer Barrett is well known to Ontario's justice system.

CBC News has learned that Perez Adaryll Cleveland has an extensive criminal record in the province, dating back to 1995. His charges under the Criminal Code of Canada include aggravated assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats. Several of those charges were laid in Sudbury.

Back in 1999, Sudbury Police offered a cash reward of $1,000 for information on Cleveland, who was charged with assault, assault causing bodily harm, threatening death and breach of probation charges.

Two women have also been charged with being accessories after the fact to murder in the Barrett case.

The discovery

Barrett was 42 years old when she died. She had lived in Sudbury and worked in the health care system in the northern Ontario city. It's not known why she was in Winnipeg at the time of her death, but police say she shared a home in the city with the three accused. 

The three accused lived in that home after the murder, and moved out in November.

Winnipeg Police found Barrett's body in a local neighbourhood on Dec. 1. in the middle-class, family neighbourhood. Her body was in a barrel in the home's backyard. Police say the barrel contained chemicals that were "designed to hasten the decomposition" of the body.

Perez Adaryll Cleveland, 46, will stand trial before a jury for the next three weeks. (Winnipeg Police Service)

Winnipeg Police Const. Rob Carver says the force believes Barrett died in August after she was assaulted for several days. Carver says police won't comment on how they know her date of death, or how they were tipped off about the body in the first place.

"Based on the chemical agents and the state of the body, [forensic analysis] alone would not have allowed us to determine time of death," Const. Carver says.

"There must be other information that would have pointed us to that date."

Needed time to 'hopefully secure convictions'

Barrett's death was just made public last week. According to Const. Carver, police needed time and privacy to find out what happened to Barrett before the public could know anything about it.

"To put all that together, we need to make sure we have all our ducks in a row, and that's a laborious and methodical process," Const. Carver says. 

"Our homicide detectives follow that, and we need to not only lay charges but ultimately, hopefully, to secure convictions."

Details 'hard for people to hear'

Const. Carver says the details of this case are disturbing, and he hasn't seen anything like it in his 24 years as an officer. But the details, he says, aren't what people should focus on.

"When someone's killed, and there's a violent death, it's always tragic," he says. 

"The stuff after it — in this case, the disposal of the remains — is hard for people to hear, but it doesn't change the fact that a young woman was killed, was murdered."

Police say they contacted the family before making the information public. CBC News has reached out to the family, who are asking for privacy at this time.

With files from CBC Manitoba