Authorities are trying to determine whether Shawn Grate, the suspect in an Ashland kidnapping and two area homicides, was involved in two other deaths, including a 2015 cold case that initially appeared to be an overdose.
That possible connection was made shortly after Shawn Grate told investigators about his involvement in the 2015 murder case of Rebekah Leicy and the 2007 slaying of a Marion woman, a source close to the investigation confirmed with NewsChannel 5.
Grate is accused of killing Elizabeth Griffith, 29, and Stacey Stanley, 40, whose 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.
Grate, 40, is charged with two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping in that case. Investigators have also said he is a suspect in a homicide in Richland County.
Investigators think Grate could be connected to the murders of Leicy, who was found in 2015, and an unidentified woman from 2007 found in Marion County late Saturday night, according to a source who agreed to speak about the continuing investigation on the condition of anonymity.
Mansfield Police Chief Ken Coontz told the Mansfield News Journal that his investigators have reopened the investigation into Leicy’s death. Her body was found in March 2015 on Township Road.
Leicy, 31, had last been seen Jan. 22, 2015; she was reported missing on Feb. 6 of that year, the article said. Police said a Columbia Gas employee was checking gas wells on County Road 1908 just south of Route 30 in Mifflin Township that March when he found Leicy behind a tree.
Coontz stopped short of connecting Grate to Leicy's case.
Grate has provided police with information about the murders of Leicy and the Marion County victim, the source said, but specific details have not been released.
The new developments in the case - which came to light after a woman called 911, saying she was abducted - have spread into multiple counties. Details released on Saturday connect Grate to multiple cases involving deaths of women living in rural Ohio.
Multiple law enforcement agencies are collecting evidence, interviewing possible witnesses and sifting through old case files to find any connections. So far, there have been more questions than answers.
Jill Del Greco, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General, said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation was in Marion County on Friday, but referred all other questions to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.
The source said Mansfield police searched a residence on Mulberry Street on Saturday. It’s not clear why they were searching the home. Investigators in Mansfield, Ashland and Richland would not discuss any new details about the case.