23 count indictment filed against Shawn Grate, Ashland prosecutor to recommend death penalty

ASHLAND, Ohio - The Ashland County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday a 23-count indictment filed against the man accused of murdering two women whose bodies were found in a vacant home earlier this month. 

The indictment against 40-year-old Shawn Grate includes two aggravated murder charges — both of which are death penalty eligible. 

“These are some of the most horrific crimes I’ve seen in my fifteen years as a criminal prosecutor,” said Prosecutor Christopher Tunnell. “Given these depraved actions and the gruesome evidence, I will be strongly recommending the death penalty if a jury finds this defendant guilty.”

Grate was arrested on Sept. 13 after the bodies of Elizabeth Griffith, 29, and Stacey Stanley, 40, were found at a home in Ashland. A third woman — whose identity has not been released and who is listed as Jane Doe in the indictment — was found alive at the home after she used Grate's phone to call police.

911 call: Woman held in Ashland home tells police 'I've been abducted'

Once in police custody, Grate led police to Madison Township where they found a third woman's remains in the woods behind an abandoned house. Investigators said Grate admitted to his role in the killing. 

The Marion County Sheriff's Office announced this week that Grate also took responsibility for the death of a woman whose body was found in 2007. He couldn't remember that woman's name and police have been unable to positively identify her. 

The maximum sentence that could be given for a conviction on each of these charges is 166 years.

According to the prosecutor's office, Ashland County has had only two death-penalty-eligible murders in the last 20 years.

View a list of the charges listed in the indictment below: 

  1. Aggravated Murder of Elizabeth Griffith
  2. Second charge of Aggravated Murder of Elizabeth Griffith 
  3. Kidnapping of Elizabeth Griffith 
  4. Gross Abuse of the Corpse of Elizabeth Griffith 
  5. Burglary of the residence of Elizabeth Griffith 
  6. Tampering with Evidence 
  7. Aggravated Murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  8. Second charge of Aggravated Murder of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley
  9. Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks, aka: Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  10. Second charge of Kidnapping of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  11. Rape of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  12. Aggravated Robbery of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  13. Gross Abuse of the Corpse of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  14. Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle of Stacey J. Hicks/Stanley 
  15. Kidnapping of Jane Doe 
  16. Rape of Jane Doe
  17. Second charge of Rape of Jane Doe 
  18. Third charge of Rape of Jane Doe 
  19. Robbery of Jane Doe 
  20. Burglary 
  21. Burglary 
  22. Burglary 
  23. Breaking and Entering 
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