The family of Stacey Stanley, one of the three women whose remains were recovered Tuesday as a result of a desperate 911 call placed by an allegedly abducted woman, is remembering her as a devoted mother who turned her life around following a years-long struggle with heroin.
Argil Stanley, Stacey’s uncle, tells PEOPLE that his 43-year-old niece “was a very loving person with a big heart” who enjoyed dancing and singing. She was reported missing on September 8.
“She loved her two little dogs and adored her kids … [and] she was just a normal girl,” Stanley says. “Everybody loved her … [and] she didn’t deserve this.”
Police in Ashland, Ohio, received a 911 call Tuesday from a woman alleging she had been abducted by a man she’d met a month earlier. As her alleged captor slept, the caller was able to lead authorities to the abandoned house where she was allegedly being held against her will.
Investigators have charged Shawn Grate, 40, with one count of abduction. Additional charges are expected to be filed in the coming days, authorities tell PEOPLE.
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After arresting Grate, who is homeless, detectives searched the remainder of the deserted residence and the surrounding area and found the bodies of three women. At this point, police have only identified Stacey Stanley as one of the three deceased victims.
“It is a sad situation, especially the way she died,” Argil Stanley says. “She was beaten to death. The cops said she was unrecognizable from the beating.” (Police have not confirmed Stacey’s cause and manner of death.)
Stanley says Stacey’s extensive family is “in mourning” and has been “going through a lot of hurt” the last two days. Relatives were gathering this afternoon to plan Stacey’s funeral, and a candlelight vigil is planned for Thursday evening in Ashland from 6:30 p.m. until midnight.
Argil Stanley says his niece made the decision to conquer her demons more than six months ago.
“She was a heroin addict and had been fighting her addiction for years,” Stanley tells PEOPLE. “She had been off of the stuff the last six months and was living with sister, going to work every day. She was sober and was taking care of herself. She had reclaimed her life.”
Grate is being held without bail at the Ashland County Jail. He has not been charged with Stanley’s murder, and does not appear to have legal counsel. Grate had yet to enter a plea or appear in court.