Admitted Serial Killer — Caught After Surviving Victim Called 911 — Convicted of Murdering 2 Women
Shawn Grate, who reportedly said he killed five women, was convicted this week of aggravated murder in the deaths of Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley
Shawn Grate, a 41-year-old homeless man who reportedly said he has killed five women, was convicted this week in the murders of two of his victims nearly two years after their bodies were found underneath piles of clothes in a vacant home in Ashland County, Ohio.
The 12-member jury took about three hours to find Grate guilty of eight charges, including two counts of aggravated murder and kidnapping.
Grate was captured after a third 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.
On Monday, Grate was convicted on the remaining charges, the most serious being the aggravated murders of Griffith, 29, and Stanley, 43.
He faces a possible death sentence for his crimes and will be sentenced on May 18.
“It’s not about him,” Stanley’s son Kurtis Stanley said after the guilty verdicts, referring to Grate, according to the Mansfield News Journal. “It’s about my mom. It’s about that other lady.”
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“She loved her two little dogs and adored her kids … [and] she was just a normal girl,” Stanley’s uncle previously told PEOPLE. “Everybody loved her … [and] she didn’t deserve this.”
Becky Chavez, a close friend of Griffith’s, reportedly lauded the convictions. “I’m glad for justice, and I hope he gets the death penalty,” she said, according to the News Journal.
Grate has never denied the killings. In videotaped confessions, he told officers that he strangled both women. Prosecutors presented their murders as crimes of opportunity.
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.
Grate’s victims allegedly date back to 2007.
Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey has said Grate allegedly admitted to killing the unidentified woman 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.
Grate’s attorney did not immediately return PEOPLE’s call for comment on Wednesday.