Ex of Suspected Serial Killer Shawn Grate Recounts Harrowing Moment: I'd 'Never Felt Fear Like That Before'

Amber Bowman recalls a frightening incident with her former husband, who is a suspected serial killer

For the first time since her husband’s conviction earlier in May for murdering two women, the former wife of Shawn Grate is opening up about her brief marriage to the 41-year-old Ohio homeless man authorities say admitted to slaughtering five women.

On the May 25 episode of Dr. Phil, Dr. Phil McGraw interviews Amber Bowman about her year-long marriage to Grate, with whom she has a daughter.

Dr. Phil has shared an exclusive clip from the interview with PEOPLE. In it, Bowman recalls a scary encounter she had with her estranged husband in 2014 — two years after their divorce.

Bowman said the couple used to playfully wrestle one another. She remembered being on top of the killer, holding his arms down, when “he flipped me over on the bed and pushed me down into the bed and put his hands around my neck. Instantly, it was scary. I have never felt fear like that before.”

“I thought, ‘Oh boy, this is bad,'” says Bowman.

She said she saw something “change” in Grate’s eyes, and “I told him it wasn’t funny anymore. It was almost like he was trying to scare me.”

Bowman told Grate to get off of her and he did: “He kind of smiled at me and let me go,” she said.

McGraw asked Bowman if she felt as though the incident would have escalated had she not spoken up.

“I don’t know,” she said.

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Ashland County Jail

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Grate was captured after a woman managed to call 911 from the Ashland home where the bodies of Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley were soon discovered.

“I’ve been kidnapped,” the terrified woman told a 911 dispatcher on Sept. 13, 2016. “Please hurry.”

During the call, the woman said that she had been tied up but managed to free herself and make the call from her captor’s phone while he slept.

Grate had faced 23 charges in the case but last week pleaded guilty to 15 of the lesser counts, including robbery, rape and abuse of a corpse, PEOPLE confirms. He faces up to 74 years in prison on those charges.

Earlier in May, Grate was convicted on the remaining charges, the most serious being the aggravated murders of Griffith, 29, and Stanley, 43.

Grate has never denied the killings. In videotaped confessions, he told officers that he strangled both women.

In 2016, PEOPLE confirmed that investigators had linked Grate to five slayings and, in a subsequent interview with a local TV reporter, he said he had killed five women: Candice Cunningham, Rebekah Leicy and a third woman whose name has not been confirmed as well as Griffith and Stanley.

He has not yet been charged in the three additional deaths, which remain under investigation.

Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey has said Grate allegedly admitted to killing the unidentified victim more than a decade ago, abandoning her remains at a remote dumping site. The woman’s skeleton was found in 2007 and Bailey said Grate allegedly told detectives she was his first victim, killed in 2005.

Grate allegedly told investigators he’d killed her because his mother was upset she did not get the magazines the woman was selling, Bailey said.

“He’s obviously a serial killer,” the sheriff told reporters in 2016.

The Dr Phil interview with Amber Bowman will air on May 25. Check local listings for channels and times.

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