Q&A from jail: Shawn Grate says his victims didn't want to live

Published: Oct. 7, 2016 at 9:18 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2016 at 3:22 PM EDT
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ASHLAND COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - "Oh yeah, I wanted to be caught. I thought about turning myself in," Shawn Michael Grate said from inside jail walls Oct. 7. Now that he's been arrested and charged for the death of two women  with charges pending for three other victims, the suspected serial killer is telling the world about his crimes.

Grate, 40, pleaded not guilty to charges related to multiple murders at the end of September, but during an interview Friday, he told us, "I admitted it. I told my attorney that if he said it again in court that I'd speak up."

The following is a question and answer interview with Grate in the Ashland County Jail. Cleveland 19's Senior Producer of Investigations Cassie Nist was not allowed to bring any recording devices into the interview. The following is a Q & A transcribed from Nist's knowledge, but it is not verbatim.

Grate: I'm learning this was out of behavior for me. I had to cover everything up. It was tearing me up all those years ... knowing what I'd done. I'd have these thoughts like, "Dang." I had to face myself every day.

19: Were there any influences that you were exposed to like the show Dexter?

Grate: What's that?

19: It's a show about a forensic scientist for the Miami Police Department and when the bad guys get away, he is a vigilante and kills them. 

Grate: I've never heard about it. I didn't have any influences, it was all internalized. I feel like I always prayed to God. It's hard to forgive yourself ... you have your moments. 

19: Let's talk about these women ... You confessed to murdering a woman in 2005 believed to be named Dana or Diane. 

Grate: She was trying to sell me magazines. I remember her trying to sell them to me. Me and my mom would be on the porch and she'd try to sell them. My mom said she wasn't getting her subscriptions delivered. 

19: What was her name Dana or Diane? I know you admitted to Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey that her name was Dana or Diane. 

Grate: Dana ... I would say Dana -- 99 percent. 

19: What happened with that?

Grate: She came to the house and tried to tell me that she would pay for half of the subscription and if I paid the other half. I could tell she was scheming me. 

19: So there is a pretty big gap between Dana in 2005 and the next woman in 2015. What was going on during that time?

Grate: I was in jail for a child support case ... in and out of jail. 

19: How many kids do you have?

Grate: Three. One with Steph, a daughter named Kayle -- she's 18 or 19 now. She's remarried. ... a son named Dylan who lives with my mom. He plays football. He's 17. 

19: Oh really, what position?

Grate: They move him around to different positions a lot. 

19: What about your third kid?

Grate: Violet. She's 4. 

19: That's a great age. Have any of your kids visited you since all this all went down?

Grate: No. 

19: What about Rebekah Leicy ... the coroner ruled that to be drug related. 

Grate: I knew Rebekah. One day we were out playing pool at a bar and I went to use the restroom and heard my money clip zip. She'd stolen $4 from me. 

19: But the coroner rules it an overdose ... 

Grate: She was on something. She was a prostitute. 

19: Let's talk about Candice Cunningham. You two were dating? For how long? Was she pregnant?

Grate: No she wasn't pregnant. We were seeing each other for about seven months. She was pretty violent and suicidal. I turned her into a psych ward for a week. Then we fought at the house in Richland for three to four days. Then the next day we'd get up and go for walks. She could have run off and told police at any time ... She would take handfuls of pills at a time and I would give her the water. 

19: How did you kill her?

Grate: In the house. 

19: Then you burned down the house and went back for her body ... why?

Grate: I had to hide her. 

19: Now the next woman, Elizabeth Griffith. How did you meet her?

Grate: At the Croc Center. We would hang out and play games. 

19: Yahtzee right? I think I read that in a report. 

Grate: Yeah and some other games too. 

19: What happened with her? Why kill her?

Grate: I'm trying to justify it as compassion. The short time I talked to her she cried several times -- just about life and how she couldn't find anyone to love her. She had a mental illness. Candice was beating herself up too. They tried to put me on psych pills but I didn't want anything controlling my brain. 

19: Are you remorseful? 

Grate: It's about 50/50. All I wanted to do was show [Elizabeth] that she wanted to live. I'd say give me a hug we're all in this together. I'd choke her until she said she wanted to live ... and she just didn't. 

19: What about the woman you abducted who called 911 ... ? Did you meet her at Stone Creek Apartments along with Elizabeth too?

Grate: Yeah [name redacted] ... we were going to get married. I wasn't going to kill [her]. She was very religious. She encouraged people ... helped to see who they were. I would play badminton with [her] at the Stone Creek Apartments and Elizabeth would be there. 

19: Was she helping you?

Grate: Yes.

19: Are you religious?

Grate: I feel I've always been religious. 

19: How about Stacey Stanley ... did you just see she had a flat tire and that was how you met her?

Grate: Yeah.

19: Did you ever tell anyone that you had killed women before?

Grate: Yeah in ways. I broke down crying for a long time to a few different women. Then I'd say something to confuse them. 

19: Are you a sex addict?

Grate: Sex is a weakness, but you have control over it. 

19: So you've confessed. Why not plead guilty in court?

Grate: I admitted it. I told my attorney that if he said it again in court that I'd speak up. 

19: Have you killed anyone else? Or just the five? Why not admit to it all at this point?

Grate: No there were just five. Let me see out list.

19: (Holds up list of victims up to glass.)

Grate: Yeah, there were five. 

19: Are you afraid of the death penalty?

Grate: I admitted it. I feel I deserve the death penalty, but I also feel I can help some people in here. My problem is that everyone is telling me what to do. I'm just trying to free myself of what I've done. I'm afraid of the death penalty. I will have cases in Richland here and Marion and there's time ... I'd like to die on my own and not by the state. My attorneys keep telling me not to talk to anyone. I don't need you. I'm guilty.

19: Is there any statement you would like to release to the public or to the victim's families ... the loved ones that are missing the victims?

Grate: I'd like to ask those who know me to forgive me and the victim's families ... the loved ones that are missing the victims. 

19: Anything else you'd like to say?

Grate: My bunk mate is crazy. He's an F3 or F4 registered offender. 

19: Have you ever messed around with kids?

Grate: No. I like older women ... except for Candice. She was younger but more of a friend. 

19: Thank you for your time.

Grate: Thank you. 

Grate was indicted on a total of 23 counts in connection to the murders of Stacey Stanley and Elizabeth Griffin and the kidnapping and rape of an unidentified woman who managed to escape and call for help.

The bodies of Stanley and Griffin were found in a home at 363 Covert Court in Ashland after the kidnapping victim called police on Sept. 13.

After his arrest, Grate reportedly told police about three additional murders of Candice Cunningham, Rebekah Leicy and an unidentified victim from Marion County.



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