MARION — Twelve years after her bones were discovered, a Marion County woman who convicted serial killer Shawn Grate admitted to killing has been identified.
The woman was identified as Dana Nicole Lowrey, 23, of Minden, Louisiana, Marion County, Sheriff Tim Bailey announced in a press conference on Tuesday morning. Her remains were found in Salt Rock Township in Marion County on March 10, 2007, and police said Grate killed her in May 2006.
“There was no clothing, jewelry, a purse or any identifying materials left at the scene,” Bailey said. Police had very little to go on in investigating the remains. “DNA was collected and entered into the national computer database and a worldwide search began with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners.”
The case changed when Grate was arrested in September 2016 after the bodies of Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley were found in his Ashland house, Bailey said. Bailey said Grate admitted to Marion County Sheriff’s detectives after his arrest that he killed a woman in Marion, while also admitting to killing two other women in Ashland and Richland Counties.
Grate could not remember the name of the victim — he told police he thought it was either Dana, Diane or Dina, Bailey said — but knew the woman sold magazines door to door. Bailey said Grate told police the woman had sold his mother magazines.
“Leads were followed up in Canada, Israel, Mexico and all across the United States,” Bailey said. One tip led investigators to believe that the then unidentified victim was from Estonia.
“Tips were called in around the country and they were all followed up,” Bailey said.
A sketch was made up by a Delaware County Sheriff’s Office sketch artist in October 2016, after an interview with Grate. A 3-D facial reconstruction sculpture was made by an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations forensics artist and the images were released to the public in January 2017.
In 2018, BCI conducted an oxygen isotope analysis of Lowrey’s bones, which revealed that she was likely born and had lived in the southern United States, and a bulletin was released to law enforcement in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia or Florida.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office then partnered with a non-profit organization called DNA Doe, after a recommendation from the United States Marshals Service. DNA Doe uploaded the DNA and compared the DNA to samples in databases and pulled from the remains, and that ultimately led to the match and identification of Lowrey.
Bailey said before her disappearance, Lowrey was living with a boyfriend and had a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old.
During a difficult time in their relationship, Lowrey left and began selling magazines door to door, Bailey said he learned from talking to the boyfriend and father of the children.
“He said she would call home every evening and the last time he heard from her was in May 2006,” Bailey said. “That put us in the timeframe of the time we projected.”
A follow-up interview was conducted with Grate in prison, but he could not identify Lowrey in a photograph, Bailey said. The photograph that police have of Lowrey is two years before her disappearance and death, Bailey said.
Attorney General Dave Yost said during the press conference that the identification of Lowrey was an important step for the justice system and for closure, despite Grate already receiving both a death sentence in Ashland County and life in prison for the two women he killed in Richland County.
“This guy is under the death penalty and is already in prison,” Yost said. “It is important that the justice system brings closure; the family needs final answers. The wounds and the grieving for the family and the community can only be healed after there [are] answers.”
And, Marion County Prosecutor Ray Grogan said his office is now evaluating the case from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for potential charges against Grate for the killing of Lowrey.
“I believe charges to be appropriate,” Grogan said.