Ohio man held on murder, kidnapping charges
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By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An Ohio man was held on $1 million bond on Friday after being charged with kidnapping and murder in connection with the discovery of two bodies by police earlier this week.
Prosecutors said Shawn Grate, a 40 year-old homeless man, took a woman on Sunday “against her will for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity” and held her in a vacant home in Ashland, Ohio, 80 miles (129 km) north of Columbus.
The woman, who was not identified, was able to make a 911 emergency call on Tuesday when Grate fell asleep, authorities said. Ashland police took Grate into custody on Tuesday and after questioning him discovered the two women's bodies on the property.
Grate was charged with two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. Ashland County Common Pleas Judge Ronald Forsthoefel set the bond in a court proceeding on Friday. Grate faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
"We have evidence to believe that Shawn Grate abducted three women and killed two of them," Ashland County prosecutor Christopher Tunnell said in a video statement via Twitter.
Efforts to reach Grate's attorney on Friday were not immediately successful.
Prosecutors said in Ashland County Court that Grate was homeless at the time of his arrest and had broken into the house where he brought the woman he kidnapped. Grate has a long criminal history in the Ashland area dating back to 1994, including domestic violence, felony abduction, drug possession, breaking and entering and identity theft, Tunnell said in court.
One of the victims whose body was found in the home was Stacey Hicks Stanley, 43, of Huron County, Ohio, according to court documents. She had been missing since Sept. 8 and was last seen dealing with a flat tire.
Investigators believe the other woman, identified as 29-year-old Elizabeth Griffith, was killed after Aug. 16, according to court documents and prosecutors.
Grate is being held in Ashland County jail. He has a competency hearing scheduled for Monday.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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