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'It could have been me,' says former girlfriend of kidnapping suspect

Published: Sep. 15, 2016 at 5:06 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2016 at 7:29 PM EDT
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BUCYRUS, OH (WOIO) - A woman, who dated kidnapping suspect Shawn Grate for five years, said she got out of the relationship after he became violent.

In an exclusive interview with Cleveland 19 News, the victim of domestic violence said she was beaten at the hands of Grate.

"You never knew what was going to set him off," said Christina Hildreth. "One minute he's happy, laughing, fine. The next minute he's looking at you evil."

Grate is in the middle of a police investigation after 3 bodies were discovered in Ashland and Mansfield earlier this week.

"It's still a matter of being in shock over the fact that someone I dated, somebody that possibly killed three people, maybe more. Knowing that had I not got away, it could've very well been me," explained Hildreth.

She learned of Grate's recent arrest after Cleveland 19 news reached out to her. She wanted to share her story so other victims of domestic violence would find the strength to get out of an abusive relationship.

Hildreth finally got away after a heated argument with Grate in 2010 that ended up with her at the hospital.

She described that violent night in June with the suspect.

More | June 10 police report 

"He grabbed me and flipped me over the end of the bed and I put my hands up like this and he punched me and he broke my hand," she explained.

She convinced Grate to take her to the hospital, but she was afraid to tell nurses what happened until Grate briefly stepped out of the room. Hildreth said only then she finally got her chance to speak. Police arrived and Grate took off, alluding them for several days.

"I thought he was going to kill me. I really did. He just had that look. He was very violent, very unpredictable, explained Hildreth.

She said Grate stalked her. He hid in her apartment for a week. She had no idea, her attacker was there.

"He hid in the bottom of my sofa. You think you're safe in your own home and you're not," said Hildreth.

She said Grate attacked her again and threatened her with a hammer before police were finally able to arrest him.

"He told them he would come back to get me."

Hildreth thinks Grate would have eventually killed her.

Grate is charged with abduction. After a 911 call led police to a home in Ashland on Tuesday, Sept. 13 officers found a woman who claimed she was being held against her will, Grate, and two bodies. Authorities said Grate led them to a home in Mansfield where a third body was found.

Other women in the area said they know him and have denied invitations from Grate to come over.

The homes Grate stayed at in Ashland and Mansfield were abandoned, and authorities believe he was squatting.

Hildreth said it was creepy went she found out about the bodies.

"I'm thinking it could have been me because he had held me, he had strangled me, he hit me, he threatened me. We had a very volatile relationship," said Hildreth.

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