MARION, OH (WOIO) - Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey held a press conference Monday on 2005 homicide that he says Ashland murder suspect Shawn Grate, 40 admits was his first kill. As disturbing as the most recent Ohio serial killer situation is, five killings are now all being linked to Grate.
Grate, charged with the murders of two women in Ashland, entered a not guilty plea Monday morning in court. Grate was arrested on Sept. 13 after a woman called police saying that he had abducted her. She was able to call 911 while he was sleeping.
The information he is offering up now is, in a sense bringing a sigh of relief to the Marion County Sheriff's department.
It all goes back to a field off rural Marion road where back in 2007 skeletal remains were found by someone just walking through. A mystery all these years later, until now.
"We are light years ahead of where we were," said Marion County Sheriff, Tim Bailey explaining a confession by Grate solves at least half of the case.
Police say Grate killed her in 2005. The girl was a 26-year-old selling magazines door-to-door in Grate's neighborhood. She sold magazines to Grate's mother but never delivered them, which upset him. He found her and convinced her to get into his car by saying that he would also like to buy magazines. He then took her to a house south of the town and stabbed her once in the throat.
He kept her in the house for two days before dumping her body on Victory Rd. in Marion, where she was found on March 10, 2007 by a man walking through the woods looking for cans. Police say that from the leaves near where her body was found it appeared there had been a fire there.
The Sheriff said Grate admitted, 'he enticed her into the car because he tells her he's going to buy magazines...took her to a house...he stabs her, kills her, left her there for a couple days then took her out to the site when we found her.'
The woman, who had no ID or distinctive possessions near her body, still has not been identified. She is depicted in the sketches on the left from the Marion County Sheriff's Office, but, according to the sheriff, Grate said that she did not look like the photo which had been circulated.
But, never a missing persons case that would come close to matching the situation.
What turned into a mysterious cold case was actually what detectives say Grate claims to be his first kill and now wanting to clear his conscience after finding God agreed to tell an investigator everything.
"Very nice, very cordial," explained Bailey, "he reaches out to shake the investigators hand, very nice gave as many details as he can remember from ten years ago."
That includes offering up a description of the victim as tall and thin, in her 20's, had good teeth and her name began with a 'D' as in Diane or Dana.
While processing the scene, police discovered two bodies, later identified as missing women Elizabeth Griffin and Stacey Stanley. Police said Grate led them to a third body buried in a wooded area behind a home in Mansfield. The name of the female victim has not yet been released. Another body is being investigated in the Mansfield area Monday morning.
On Saturday, the Marion County Sheriff's Department confirmed that they are looking at another body possibly connected to the case.
"The problem that you start off with this crime is we don't have any identification of the body," said Bailey. "It's very difficult to solve a case when you don't have a place to start."
Bailey says that Grate told his girlfriend at the time about the killing, but she did not believe him. Police have interviewed Grate's mother and former girlfriend in hopes of identifying the woman.
Grate was arraigned on Friday on two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. His bond was set at $1M. In Monday's hearing, Grate waived his right to a speedy trial and preliminary hearing. His case will be bound over to a grand jury. He'll be back in court Sept. 29 at 8 a.m.
Bailey says police are working with FBI to put together a profile of Grate. He says that, from a short conversation he had with the county prosecutor, there does not seem to be any deals in place, such as not instituting the death penalty, for Grate's cooperation.
Although Marion County police only talked to Grate about the single homicide, Bailey believes it is possible that there will be further bodies found.
"I am surmising, a guess on my part, when he started to in 2003, 4, kill somebody and he's still doing that in 2016, in my experience there is something in between there," Bailey said. "I would be looking for some more dead bodies."
It's hoped these additional clues will close the cold case for good, the only cold case murder involving a woman in the county. But, the Sheriff says he can come to terms with the possibility they may never have an identity at this point.
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