MARION, Ohio - Shawn Grate's very first murder victim may have been a young woman in Marion County.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday that Grate confessed to killing a woman in Marion at least 10 years ago. He told investigators she was the first woman he ever killed.
Grate, 40, is also accused of killing Elizabeth Griffith, 29, and Stacey Stanley, 40. Their bodies were found Sept. 13 at a home in Ashland. A third woman, whose identity has not been released, was found alive at the home after she used Grate's phone to call police.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday that Grate did confess to killing an unidentified woman whose body was found off Victory Road in northeast Marion County on March 10, 2007.
Authorities are now asking for the public's help in identifying the woman.
According to Sheriff Tim Bailey, Grate told investigators that he first met the woman while she was selling magazines. However, magazines that he had ordered for his mother were never delivered. A few months later, he saw the woman and told her to get into his car because he wanted to purchase some more. He then stabbed her, hid her in the basement of a home for two days and then dumped her body off Victory Road, according to Sheriff Bailey.
Grate couldn't remember what year this was, saying it could have been as early as 2003.
A year later, concerned police would find his DNA, Grate said he went back and set the woman's body on fire.
Grate could not remember the woman's name — telling officials it was possibly Diane or Dana.
When the woman's body was found, police released a composite sketch of the woman hoping to confirm her identity. Grate said that photo did not look like her.
Sheriff Bailey said Grate showed remorse in his confession.
“I think he showed some remorse, again he wanted to get this off his chest," said Sheriff Bailey. "I think he’s found God and wants to move forward.”
He also said he wouldn't be surprised if there were more victims.
"When you start at 2003 or 2004 and you kill somebody and you’re still doing it in 2016 I’m just saying, in my experience, there’s got to be something in between there," said Sheriff Bailey. "I would be looking for some more dead bodies."