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University of Akron students taking serial killer class assigned to profile Shawn Grate

Posted at 6:12 PM, Sep 20, 2016

When a group of University of Akron students signed up for a class called "Profiling Serial Killers", they never imagined they would be analyzing a case so close to home.

On Tuesday, the class received an assignment to learn everything they could about the Shawn Grate investigation and be prepared to produce a post-arrest profile on the 40-year-old suspect.

"Taking this class, it's definitely opened my eyes on what could happen," said C.J. Gadosik, a UA senior.

Dr. Mary Myers, a former Akron police captain, instructs the criminal justice course and asked the students multiple questions about the investigation involving five dead women in three counties.

"Two dead bodies in the house, a woman held for 17 hours, what's happening?" Myers asked the class.

The stunning case came to light on September 13 after a woman called 911 and reported she was abducted and being held inside an Ashland home.

The woman said she was tied up and Grate had a Taser, but she was able to to free herself while he was sleeping.

When police arrived, the woman was rescued, but the bodies of two other women-- Stacey Stanley and Elizabeth Griffith-- were found in the abandoned house.

Investigators said later that day, Grate led police to another dead woman, Candice Cunningham, who was found in a wooded area near Mansfield.

A few days later, sources reported that Grate admitted to killing Rebekah Leicy. Her body was found dumped off an Ashland County road last year.

Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey said Grate also confessed to the murder of a woman found in a cornfield in 2007. Grate said he couldn't remember what year he killed her and thought her name was Diane or Dana. She remains unidentified.

Bailey said the FBI was planning to meet with his investigators to create a profile on Grate. The FBI confirmed it's assisting with the investigation, but wouldn't discuss a profile.

Dr. Myers said agents will want to review investigative notes and the crime scene photographs and possibly map out his movements over the years to determine if there could be more bodies.

"There's a missing person database, so people go missing. They will look at where he has been, all the places that he's traveled, where he might have lived or worked, kinds of jobs he might have had, and then look to see what other victims might be out there," Dr. Myers said.

Erica McLendon, a senior taking the course, said the serial killings have been a shocker in her hometown of Mansfield.

One of the victims, Rebekah Leicy, vanished from that town.

"Not everybody is going to look suspicious. Most people, who are serial killers, look very normal and have a lot of charm," she said.