It was the early morning of September 13, 2016, when 911 dispatchers were contacted by an Ohio woman. In a whisper the woman claimed that she had been kidnapped, raped and bound in a home by a man named Shawn Grate who was armed with a taser. She was able to break through the ties and reach for Grate’s phone while he was still asleep.
For nearly 20 minutes the woman, whose name is currently being withheld, was able to stay on the line with dispatchers as Grate slept nearby, carefully whispering details to assist police in locating the home in Ashland, Ohio where she was being held captive. Police burst into the room and were able to free the woman and place Shawn Grate under arrest.
The brave woman’s call led to the discovery of two more bodies inside the home and Grate’s candid confession of having killed at least five women. Grate was cooperative and courteous with investigators, agreeing to show them where he had hidden another body in the woods behind an abandoned property in Madison Township.
The two bodies found inside the home with Grate were later identified as 29-year-old Elizabeth Griffith and 43-year-old Stacy Stanley. The Madison Township body has been identified as Candice Marie Cunningham. Unlike the victims found at the scene, Cunningham had not been reported as missing because her parents believed she had moved to North Carolina.
Two additional murders Grate confessed to included 31-year-old Rebekah Leicy, who had been found dead in an Ashland, Ohio field last year, reportedly of a “suspicious heroin overdose.” Grates also alleged that his first victim was an unidentified woman who disappeared while selling magazines door-to-door. Her body was discovered in a trash dump in 2005, near where Grate had resided at the time of the unsolved murder.
At this time Grate is only facing charges related the abduction and capture of the unidentified female caller (Jane Doe) and the murder of the two women discovered within the home. Other charges are still pending as the ongoing investigation continues. Grate has since pleaded not guilty to the 23 counts he’s been charged with. These charges include:
- Aggravated Murder of Elizabeth Griffith
- Second charge of Aggravated Murder of Elizabeth Griffith
- Kidnapping of Elizabeth Griffith
- Gross Abuse of the Corpse of Elizabeth Griffith
- Burglary of the residence of Elizabeth Griffith
- Tampering with Evidence
- Aggravated Murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Second charge of Aggravated Murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Second charge of Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Rape of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Aggravated Robbery of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Gross Abuse of the Corpse of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
- Kidnapping of Jane Doe
- Rape of Jane Doe
- Second charge of Rape of Jane Doe
- Third charge of Rape of Jane Doe
- Robbery of Jane Doe
- Breaking and Entering
In what local investigators are calling the worst case Ashland, Ohio has seen within the last 20 years, prosecutors are pursing the death penalty if Grate is found guilty.