Richland County charges against Grate still pending

MANSFIELD - Richland County Prosecutor Bambi Couch Page says her office is "nowhere close" to filing charges against suspected serial killer Shawn Grate.

"We're still investigating," she said Wednesday.

Grate, 40, already is charged with two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping in Ashland County. Richland County became part of the investigation after a third set of remains was discovered last week near a burned-out house in Madison Township.

Since then, he also has confessed to killing a woman in Marion between 2003 and 2005, and authorities are investigation possible connections to the death of a Mansfield woman whose body was found in an Ashland County woods in 2015.

In the Richland County case, authorities said Grate confessed to killing a woman at 1027 Park Ave. E. in June. The Madison Township house was destroyed by fire around the same time.

The woman's body was recovered at the rear of the house in a wooded area, down a ravine.

"Her identity at this time is unknown, but we have a lead as to possibly who she might be, and the sheriff's office is going to follow up on that information," Couch Page previously said.

Earlier this week, Jim Cristman, Grate's former landlord, said he fears the victim is Candice Cunningham. She was staying with Grate at 132 W. Second St. until June, when Cristman kicked them out.

Multiple agencies are involved in the ongoing investigation.

Couch Page said officials were scheduled to meet Tuesday to share information, but the meeting was canceled. The prosecutor said the meeting would be rescheduled.

She added that no one agency is taking the lead in the investigation.

"We are all coordinating together," Couch Page said. "I would expect the jurisdictions to pursue charges independently."

Grate has been ruled out as a suspect in Ross County, where six women have gone missing in the last couple of years.


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