Skeletal remains identified in Marion Co. believed to be serial killer Shawn Grate’s first victim

Local News

MARION COUNTY, OH (WCMH) — Deputies in Marion County say they have solved a cold case and it’s linked to serial killer Shawn Grate.  

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, in 2007 the remains of an unidentified woman were found on Victory Road. 

Deputies said that in 2016 serial killer Shawn Grate admitted to law enforcement he was responsible for the woman’s death. 

Grate told officers the woman, who he said was named Dana or Diana, sold his mother magazines in 2006, and he became upset when she failed to deliver them. 

Grate said he later picked up the woman, telling her he wanted to buy some magazines, took her to his home and murdered her, according to deputies.  

The woman has been identified as Dana Nicole Lowery, who was 23-years-old at the time of her death, and after more than a decade of investigating, the cold case has been solved. 

RELATED: Convicted killer Shawn Grate pleads guilty to two more murder charges

Investigators said at one point seemed impossible to solve. 

“Not having any kind of identification on this victim, we had no idea where she was from,” said Marion County Sheriff Tim Bailey. “There was no starting point.”

Except the field she was found.  

Investigators said it took them years before they got their first break. 

“For 9 years we had no idea how this woman got here,” said Bailey. “We had no leads until Shaw Grate confessed.”
Grate has confessed to killing five women and is sentenced to death. 

In 2017, he admitted to killing the Jane Doe they found in the Marion County field, but at that time, investigators still could not identify her or where she was from. 

All they had was a facial reconstruction model and tips that she may have been from Estonia. 

That changed when detectives did an isotopes test on her remains. 

“She lived most of her life down in the southern U.S.,” said Samantha Molnar with Ohio BCI.

Lowery lived in Minden, Louisiana. 

Molnar said the isotope test shows we are what we eat and in every region it’s different. 

“There’s different isotopes in water based upon your region,” said Molnar. “So, if you’re going to drink drinking water from a certain lake or area, it’s going to be different in northern Ohio versus Florida.”

That information helped connect the dots to potential family and familial DNA linked Lowery with a person who was her second cousin and that ultimately lead investigators to boyfriend in Louisiana who fathered her two children.

In March of 2019, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office sent DNA standards from the unidentified woman to the DNA Doe Project. In May, the organization identified the woman as Lowrey.  

Charges against Grate are pending in this case, with both the county prosecutor and Ohio’s attorney general saying they plan on pursuing charges for this particular killing.

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