New leads on Shawn Grate's alleged victim in Marion come from isotope testing


The key to identifying a "Jane Doe" victim out of Marion County could be in the hands of her accused killer.

Investigators hope suspected serial killer Shawn Grate will help them identify the woman selling magazines he admitted to killing in 2007.

Grate is about to go on trial in Ashland County, for the murders of two other women, but he's claimed to have killed others.

There's new information about his alleged victim in Marion County.

She could be one of the women in a stack of photos sitting on Sheriff Tim Bailey's desk.

"Every time we get a lead that looks pretty good, half way decent, you take it out to the end, it doesn't go anywhere," Sheriff Bailey said.

Sheriff Bailey says the investigation to identify "Jane Doe" has been frustrating.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office has tracked down thousands of leads on their victim over the last two years, but still no matches.

"It was our intention to go up and see if he could help us eliminate that's not her, that's not her, that's not her," Sheriff Bailey said.

The next move for investigators is to talk to the man who admitted to killing her.

Shawn Grate might recognize someone in the pile of pictures on Sheriff Bailey's desk.

The photos are of missing women from the southern part of the country. That's where investigators believe "Jane Doe" is from, after sending her bones to be analyzed.

It's called an isotope test.

"The results told us that she was likely born in the United States, based upon the isotopes in her bones that she had probably lived somewhere in like Florida or central Texas," Ohio BCI Criminal Intelligence Analyst Samantha Molnar said.

Working closely with Ohio BCI on the case, Molnar suggested science could help solve it.

"I know that somebody is out there looking for her and so if there's anything that I can do to help bring her home to her family, I want to do that," 'Molnar said.

Molnar says "Doe's" remains went to the University of South Florida for testing, where a tooth and a rib determined she's from somewhere south.

This is the first missing persons case in Ohio they've done isotope testing for.

"We are looking at missing persons cases down in that region," Molnar said.

Now, Molnar and Marion County detectives are looking for pictures of women who fit their victim's description, hoping Shawn Grate might identify one.

A potential break in the case could be in the photos on Sheriff Bailey's desk.

But investigators need their suspect to cooperate.

"May be another 10 years, but we'll keep at it," Sheriff Bailey said.

Sheriff Bailey says detectives will show Grate the pictures once his trial in Ashland County is over.

He says the Marion County prosecutor will also wait until then to decide if charges will filed against him in the Jane Doe murder.

Project LINK of the Missing Persons Unit at the Ohio Attorney General's BCI, offers free assistance to those searching for a loved one who has been missing for more than 30 days.

You can contact BCI at 855-BCI-OHIO and file a missing person report with the local police.