Suspect arrested after bodies are found in Ashland, leads police to third body in Richland County

Posted at 4:01 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 09:04:22-04

ASHLAND, Ohio -- Officers rescued a missing woman from an Ashland home Tuesday morning, only to find two others already dead.

A man who was taken into custody in connection with that case then led police to another body in Richland County.

Now families of missing women in the area are trying to figure out if their loved ones are still alive.

It all started when a woman called Ashland police early Tuesday, reporting she was being held against her will. When officers responded to the area of East 4th Street and Covert Court, they found the woman alive along with 40-year-old Shawn Michael Grate. The remains of two other people were also found.

Once in police custody, Grate told police that, in addition to the remains that were found in Ashland, he killed another woman in June. That led police to Madison Township where they found the third woman's remains in the woods behind an abandoned house. 

The families of two missing women — Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley — were present at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Ashland.


During the news conference, one of Stanley's relatives claimed police refused to help search for her. 

"We would’ve liked to have had some help," the man said Tuesday. "I prayed to god my niece Stacy, the one who has been missing since Thursday, her car was found up here on 9th street. She had been abducted from a BP station. We got a hold of every cop, sheriff to help us, we had zero help from them. We combed this area and shook this guy’s cage, got him rattled, he screwed up because we’re banging on his door last night where they were being held and he got rattled because of what the community did, what their family had done. We combed this area and rattled his cage. No thanks to police officers."

According to Stanley's family, she was last seen around 10 p.m. last Thursday at the BP gas station on the corner of East Main Street and Union Street.

"When you tell the police officer something is wrong, something is wrong," said Stanley's son, Curtis. "My mom was missing Thursday night. I know my Mom and so does my family better than anybody. It took them two to three days to even consider putting a missing persons report out."

Ashland police said a missing person report had not been filed before the woman was found alive in Ashland. 

According to police, the remains found in Richland County are too old to be those of Griffith or Stanley. 

Grate's history with the law dates back to 1994. In November 1994, he went to jail for assault charges and in 1997 was again incarcerated for burglary. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct, unlawful restraint and criminal trespassing in March 1999. Other charges on his record include aggravated menacing, theft, domestic violence, violation of a protection order and abduction.

Tracey Young of Ashland told Grate lured her to the home two weeks ago after she met him at a party. Young said Grate asked her for sex, offering her alcohol and pills but she quickly had a bad feeling about the situation and minutes later was able to run out of the house.

Police believe Grate is homeless. The homes where the bodies were found in Ashland were supposed to be vacant.

Grate is currently being held in the Ashland County Jail on an abduction charge. The Ohio Bureau of Investigation is assisting police with the investigation.