Dana Lowrey rendering

MARION -- Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey identified Dana Nicole Lowrey as the woman officials believe was the first murder victim of serial killer Shawn Grate.

Lowrey was a 23-year-old woman from Minden, Louisiana.

The announcement came during a press conference Tuesday morning.

Grate

Shawn Grate was sentenced to life without parole in March, 2019, for four charges related to the murders of two Mansfield women.

Lowrey's remains were found on Victory Road in Marion in 2007. But the sheriff's office had no leads on her identity or her killer until Grate began confessing his crimes to Ashland Police. 

Not only was there no identifying information with the remains, but the woman was not reported missing in the national database of missing persons.  

Grate allegedly told police he killed a magazine saleswoman in Marion before killing four other women in Ashland and Richland Counties.  

After Grate told police the first victim's name was Dana, Deana or Diana, investigators spent countless hours checking public records for those names, Bailey said. They also pursued a tip that led them to believe the victim was from Estonia.

With assistance from the state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Marshals, local officials used DNA evidence to identify the woman as Lowrey. 

Meeting with the family, investigators learned Lowrey had left her boyfriend and the couple's two daughters, ages five and one, in Louisiana and was selling magazines door-to-door in Ohio.

After making the identification, investigators interviewed Grate on May 31. Little new information came out of that interview, according to Bailey. 

In a joint press conference with the Marion County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost praised the sheriff and his staff for their persistence on the case for more than a decade.

Grate was arrested on Covert Court in Ashland in 2016 and was later convicted in Ashland County Common Pleas Court of the murders of Elizabeth Griffith and Stacey Stanley, as well as the rape of a third woman, who survived and called 911. He was sentenced to death in that case. 

Earlier this year, Grate was convicted of the murders of Rebekah Leicy and Candace Cunningham in Richland County. In that case, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

During Tuesday's press conference, Yost acknowledged some people may question whether it would be a waste of resources to prosecute Grate in Marion County, considering his other convictions and sentencing. 

Yost said he believes additional charges are warranted, not only as a means of providing closure for the family of the Marion County victim, but also as a matter of public safety. Appeals are pending in both the Ashland and Richland County cases, and Yost said there is no end to the litigation in sight. 

Marion County Prosecutor Ray Grogan said he plans to review the case and anticipates charges will be appropriate.