The Ashland County Killer

The nightmare phone call leading to his capture lasted 20 minutes before help arrived.

Josie Klakström
7 min readFeb 15, 2021


Shawn Grate had a long history of violence, but his good looks and charisma meant he charmed everyone he met. He was known as a ‘nice guy’, and that’s what made him even more deadly.

The missing

On the 16th of August 2016, Elizabeth Griffith went missing from a car park in Ashland, Ohio. According to CCTV, the 29-year-old was shopping in Walmart at the time of her abduction and from there, her movements are unknown.

Elizabeth’s story was picked up locally but very little was done about her disappearance by the police. Stacey Stanley’s disappearance was handled similarly.

The 43-year-old went missing less than a month later in September 2016, but because of her history with drugs, police did little to help find her.

Stacey went missing after she stopped at a petrol station. She’d got a flat tyre, so she called her sister to ask her or another family member to come and help. While they were on the phone, trying to devise a plan, her sister heard a man offer her his assistance, which she took.

Stacey had been drug-free for six months and had begun to get her life back on track. The grandmother had moved to Greenwich, around a 20-minute drive from Ashland recently, but would still call her sister every day to catch up with her.

The day after Stacey went missing, her family knew something was wrong and immediately contacted the police. Because of Stacey’s run-ins with police in the past, they assumed she’d gone to get high somewhere and despite an official missing person’s report being filed, they did little to aid in the search. When police eventually found Stacey’s car, a few roads from the petrol station, with her purse still inside.

Without help from law enforcement, the family made flyers and went door to door, asking residents if they’d seen anything that night. No witnesses were found but as days passed, the family began to notice activity in abandoned houses nearby. They again asked the police to help and called on them to search the derelict properties, but they refused to investigate the buildings. The media didn’t pick up Stacey’s disappearance and apart from a few people, no one knew she was missing.



Josie Klakström

Josie is a freelance journo who writes about writing, true crime, culture and marketing.