Trial begins for man investigators call a 'suspected serial killer'


On Monday, the man accused of murdering two women in Ashland County in 2016 listened attentively as prosecutors revealed horrific details of his alleged crimes.

During opening arguments, Ashland County Prosecutor Christopher Tunnell told the jury this isn't a case of "who done it," but "he did it."

Investigators say Grate's killing spree came to an end on September 13, 2016 when a victim waited until he fell asleep to break out of restraints and use Grate's phone to call 911. Ashland Police Sergeant James Cox testified he helped rescue the woman.

"She was totally nude. She was absolutely terrified. Almost frozen in fear," testified Sgt. Cox.

Tunnell told the jury Grate befriended the victim and lured her to his home so she could read Bible verses to him.

Prosecutors say instead, Grate slapped the Bible out of the woman's hand and assaulted her. Tunnell told the jury Grate videotaped himself raping the victim nine times over the course of three days before she escaped.

Tunnell told the jurors they will review those videos. Police testified Grate was asleep in his bed when he was taken into custody. That was before officers made two gruesome discoveries in Grate's home.

Cox testified officers forced open a locked door leading to an upstairs bedroom. Police said that's where they discovered what they described as the mummified remains of Elizabeth Griffin who hadn't been seen since July.

Tunnell said she was nude and restrained lying face down in a closet sealed with tape and said Grate later confessed to strangling to Griffin.

In the basement of the home, investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal investigation, BCI, discovered the remains of a second victim. Tunnell told the jury Grate spotted Stacey Hicks stranded at a gas station with a flat tire and played the role of a Good Samaritan.

Prosecutors said Hicks gave Grate a ride home, where prosecutors said Grate also videotaped himself raping her.

Prosecutors said Grate told investigators Hicks tried to mace him, and that's when he strangled her.

BCI agents testified her body was buried under piles of trash in the basement. The victim's pink canister of mace was recovered near her body.

Sheriff's investigators have said Grate confessed to the murders of two other women, but he is not charged in those cases. The investigations are ongoing.

If convicted, Grate will face the death penalty.

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