Mansfield police reopen case of woman's death in 2015

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Mansfield police have reopened the investigation into the death of Mansfield resident Rebekah Leicy, whose body was found in a wooded area in Ashland County in March 2015, Chief Ken Coontz said.

Coontz, however, would not confirm whether the reopening is linked to Shawn Grate, the suspect in the deaths of three women whose bodies were discovered last week.

The body of Leicy, 31, was found March 16, 2015, in a wooded area off County Road 1908 in Ashland County, south of U.S. 30. In June 2015, Ashland County Coroner Dale Thomae said her death was a result of an drug overdose, and there was no evidence of traumatic injuries.

While declining to comment on any connection of the case reopening to Grate, Coontz did say Detective Rob Skropits, head of the the Mansfield Police Major Crime Unit, had Detective Dave Scheurer contact Leicy's father, Bob Leicy, who currently lives in Ashland, on Saturday night and advised him about his daughter's case being reopened.

Leicy's sister, Abby Norris of Mansfield, said Sunday authorities told her father and her brother, Carl Leicy, not to talk to anyone because it will jeopardize the case.

"Yes, they reopened my sister's case, but I have no details because I didn't speak to them, and whatever they told Bob, he won't say," Norris said.

"And I want justice for my baby sister ... but I want proof and not a scapegoat for these cops to pin it on Shawn (Grate) if he really didn't do it," Norris added.

Grate, 40, is being held on $1 million bond in the Ashland County Jail on murder charges tied to the deaths of Stacey Stanley, 40, of Greenwich, and Elizabeth Griffith, 29, of Ashland, who both had been reported missing recently. He also is charged with a count of kidnapping in the abduction of another unidentified woman, who called 911 Tuesday morning saying she was being held by Grate in a vacant house on Covert Court in Ashland.

After police apprehended Grate, they reported discovering the bodies of Stanley and Griffith in the house. Grate then allegedly told authorities he had killed another woman and dumped her body behind a burned-out house at 1027 Park Ave. E in Madison Township in June. That body was discovered in the woods about 60 feet from the house.

In early 2015, Leicy's family searched extensively for her. She had last been seen Jan. 22 of that year and was reported missing Feb. 6 by a man who lives on Third Street. Mansfield police searched more than 60 vacant or abandoned houses on Third and Fourth streets looking for her since she frequented that neighborhood.

Her body was found in Ashland County on March 16, 2015.

According to her autopsy report from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office, Leicy did not have any skull fractures, nor any subdural hematomas. The autopsy was performed, treating the case as a homicide. Therefore, she was evaluated for sexual assault. No injuries were noted from the evaluation, Thomae stated in the coroner's summary.

"In general, there were not many traumatic injuries on the body," he said. "The neck was evaluated and there was hemorrhaging, indicating she had not been strangled. No stab wounds nor gun shot wounds were located."

The autopsy report said based upon the current findings, she died more than 10 days before being found, and was last seen alive Jan. 22, 2015. At the time, authorities said they thought she overdosed and died somewhere else and was dumped in the wooded area, her body propped against a tree.

Leicy was known to use heroin, officials said, and she was a known prostitute to the Mansfield police, Thomae wrote in the coroner's summary report in June 2015.


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