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Shawn Michael Grate, 40, was arrested Tuesday, Sept. 13 and charged with abduction of a woman. In the process of rescuing the woman from an Ashland home and investigating the scene, police found 2 bodies.
Timeline of Events
6:40 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 - Ashland police officers arrived at the home on 363 Covert Court Tuesday morning and rescued a woman who called for help. They Shawn Michael Grate also at the home. According to authorities, while processing the scene they found the bodies of two women. Police said Grate then lead them to an abandoned home on Park Avenue East in Mansfield, about 11 miles away.
4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 - Authorities detail arrest and bodies found at a 4 p.m. news conference. Police said within five minutes of being on the property Grate walked up to the edge of the woods and pointed. Sheriff Steve Sheldon said investigators walked about 60 feet into the woods and found a woman's body. The victim may not be from Richland County and she may have been there since June.
10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 - Family identifies body found in Ashland home as Stacey Stanley.
1 p.m. Wednesday Sept. 14 - Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon said woman's body found in the woods may not be from Richland County.
Friday, Sept. 16 - Grate appeared in court on 2 counts of murder and 1 count of kidnapping. Bond was set at $1M.
Friday, Sept. 16 - The second Ashland body was identified as Elizabeth Griffith.
Monday, Sept 20 - Grate appeared in court again and was assigned an attorney.
Monday, Sept. 20 - Marion County Sheriff said Grate admitted to killing a woman in Marion. She has not been identified.
Here's what we know about the 5 women attached to the investigation of Grate. Marion County Sheriff said Grate admitted to authorities he killed a woman there and she was his first ever victim.
The first murder that he has admitted to goes all the way back to 2005 or 2006. Grate himself can remember. But he told investigators there was a woman in Marion who was selling magazines door-to-door. His mother never received her order so when Grate saw the woman again he lured her into his car saying he wanted to buy magazines. He ended up killing her and dumping her body northeast of Marion on Victory Road. It would be at least a year until her body was found by a man looking for cans in the woods. She is the only Jane Doe in this case. Grate, while in custody, was able to point on a map exactly where he dumped Jane Doe, and it matched where the body was found years earlier. Investigators are hoping someone will come forward to identify the woman, who was selling magazines door to door in 2005 or 2006 in Marion.
The next case, possibly connected to Grate, doesn't happen until 2015. The Marion County Sheriff is questioning the time gap between murder #1 and #2, saying a killer generally won't wait that long before they do it again. In this case Rebekah Leicy went missing in February of 2015 and her body wasn't found until March of 2015, dumped off a road in Ashland near Route 30. At the time investigators ruled this an overdose death but said it was suspicious. This case has now been re-opened after authorities said Grate told them he strangled her.
Then a jump of another year. Case #3 is that of Candice Cunningham. She was never reported missing because family told us they thought she had moved to North Carolina in April of 2016 and didn't have a cell phone. Grate confessed to killing her and on the day he was taken into custody, he was taken to Mansfield and showed authorities where he dumped her body in the 60 feet into the woods behind a vacant home. Authorities said Grate admitted to strangling her. He told them he killed her sometime in June of 2016.
Then the cases speed up. His fourth victim appears to be Elizabeth Griffith. She was last seen in August although family didn't report her missing until Sept. 8. She was one of two bodies found inside that home in Ashland last week on Sept. 13.
The most recent victim would have been Stacey Stanley who was reported missing Sept. 8. Family told us Grate helped change a tire for Stanley and she gave him a ride. She was the other body found in the home in Ashland.
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