Remains identified as Candice Cunningham in Shawn Grate case

MANSFIELD - The remains discovered near a Madison Township burned-out house in September have been identified through DNA as Candice Cunningham.

Authorities held a brief press conference Tuesday morning to make the announcement. Accused serial killer Shawn Grate is a suspect in Cunningham's death.

Grate, 40, already is charged with two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping in Ashland County for which he could receive the death penalty.

Richland County became part of the investigation after a third set of remains was discovered near a burned-out house at 1027 Park Ave. East in Madison Township. Shortly after he was apprehended Sept. 13, in Ashland, he told authorities about the Madison Township site.

Jim Christman, Grate's former landlord, said he feared the victim was Candice Cunningham. She was staying with Grate at 132 W. Second St. until June, when Christman kicked them out.

Assistant Prosecutor Brandon Pigg said the office is waiting "for a few things," including the final autopsy report, to come in before deciding on possible charges.

Pigg said the grand jury meets at the beginning of each month.

"We could follow that regular pattern or call a special grand jury," he said. "If we call a special, we could call that at anytime."

Cunningham's remains were identified by the coroner's office, the Mercyhurst University Department of forensic anthropology and the Mansfield Police Department's crime lab.

Coroner's Investigator Bob Ball thanked the other agencies involved in the investigation, including sheriff's and prosecutor's offices.

Grate also has been linked to the 2015 death of Rebekah Leicy of Mansfield whose body was found in an Ashland County woods, and the death of an unidentified Marion County woman whose body was discovered in 2007.

Check back later for updates.


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