An Ohio Serial Killer Is ‘The Reason The Death Penalty Exists,’ Said Prosecutor

The Ashland County mugshot of Shawn Grate

Investigation Discovery The Ashland County mugshot of Shawn Grate

Shawn Grate is an Ohio serial killer being profiled as part of Investigation Discovery’s Serial Killer Week from August 30 to September 4. Here’s what you need to know about the infamous murderer now, including how he was apprehended and why he hasn’t been put to death yet.

Grate Is on Death Row

In May 2018, Grate was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering two women, Stacey Stanley and Elizabeth Griffith. The Ashland County jury found him guilty on four counts of aggravated murder, three counts of kidnapping, and a count of aggravated robbery, according to the Ashland Times-Gazette. He pleaded guilty to 15 other counts, including the kidnapping and rape of a woman only known as “Jane Doe.”

A few weeks later, Judge Ronald P. Forthoefel sentenced Grate to death by lethal injection. At the hearing, prosecutor Christopher Tunnell said that Grate’s acts were “evil,” according to the Times-Gazette.

“His nature is such that he poses the greatest risk to re-offend. He is the reason the death penalty exists in the state of Ohio,” said Tunnell.

The execution date was set for September 13, 2018, the two-year anniversary of Grate’s arrest. But because it was a death penalty case, it received an automatic appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. He remains incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution while he awaits his death row appeal, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The Marion Star reports that with all the appeals available to him, it will “likely be years” before he faces execution.

Grate Confessed to Killing Five Women in Ohio

Grate was arrested in September 2016 because the “Jane Doe” victim managed to call 911 while he was sleeping and was rescued by Ashland police. It was this arrest that led to the authorities finding the bodies of Stacey Stanley and Elizabeth Griffith in his Ashland house.

Grate led police to the body of Candice Cunningham in nearby Richland County and also took credit for the death of Rebekah Leicy, which was originally ruled a drug overdose.

Finally, Grate told the authorities that his first murder was a woman he said he thought was named Dana or Diana back in 2006. Her remains were found a year later and she remained unidentified until a DNA test in June 2019 revealed the remains belonging to Dana Nicole Lowrey of Louisiana, according to WTTE. In the Investigation Discovery special, Grate’s ex-girlfriend Christina Hildreth said that she unknowingly helped clean up Hildreth’s blood after Grate murdered her. He later proposed to Hildreth with a ring he stole from Lowrey’s body.

“I didn’t know he had killed anybody, I had no clue. But I helped clean up his crime scene. The overall thought of helping clean it up, that really does bother me. A lot,” said Hildreth, adding, “We were together almost six years. I knew something was off. He wasn’t completely normal, but I never expected murder. At times, I do really feel like I should have known more. I should have been able to recognize more. I know I’m lucky … I know I’m lucky to have survived. Knowing what I know of Shawn, I know even in hiding, I’m really not safe.

“Shawn needs to be punished for what he’s done, for everything he’s done to everybody. Shawn needs to die.”

ID’s Serial Killer Week airs from Sunday, August 30 to Friday, September 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Investigation Discovery.

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