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May 17, 2024

Polk County Sheriff’s Office solves 1972 “John Doe” homicide

Media Contact: Scott Wilder, Director

Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives have solved and closed a murder investigation that started 52 years ago in unincorporated Eloise. Detectives have identified the victim using advanced forensic genetic genealogy, and uncovered the two suspects responsible for the murder, both of whom are dead. 

Click here to see Sheriff Judd discussing this on YouTube:

On May 17, 1972, Polk deputies responded to a reported body found in a field just to the south of the canal between Lake Lulu and Lake Ship, and southeast of the US 17 overpass from Eloise to Winter Haven. A person fishing in the area discovered the victim.

Deputies found the body of a white male estimated to be in his 40s to 50s in advanced stages of decomposition. There was no wallet and no identification on the body. There were 2 small caliber gunshot wounds to left side of the head and 1 exit wound to right side of the head. 

No leads or witnesses were identified during the initial investigation. The unidentified body was buried in a pauper’s grave in Lakeside Memorial Cemetery in Winter Haven.

In January of 1974, Polk investigators were contacted by Charles Williams, an inmate in the Florida State prison system. He claimed that in November of 1973 he was in Raiford Prison (Union Correctional Facility in Raiford, Florida) with Clarence Ingram. Williams said Clarence Ingram told him the following: 

• That in 1972, he (Clarence Ingram) and Edgar Todd met a white male/victim in a bar in Winter Haven. 
• He claimed that they left the bar in the victim’s white Chevrolet car and at some point while in the car they engaged in an argument. 
• During argument, Ingram handed Todd a 22 caliber pistol and Todd shot the victim two times in the head.
• He claimed that they drove down the road and pulled over near an overpass in the Winter Haven / Eloise area.
• They removed the body from the vehicle and put him in an area near a canal.
• They removed his wallet and rings, leaving him by the canal, so the turtles would eat him.
• He claimed the victim had approximately $1000 to $1500 worth of tools in his vehicle. They sold the tools to Clarence’s brother, Johnny Ingram.
• They then took the victim’s vehicle to Keeler Michigan and sold it for $500.
• Clarence told him that victim’s vehicle had a Georgia license plate.

In 1974 detectives made contact with law enforcement in Georgia seeking information about 1972 missing persons cases. Georgia authorities gave detectives information about a missing person named Lewis House, who went missing in 1972. The circumstances were similar to the PCSO case in that House left Georgia headed to Florida and was never seen again.

This information was followed up, but no further leads were found and the case went cold. They were unable to prove or disprove the identity of the victim.

In February of 2017 the PCSO Cold Case Unit obtained a court order allowing the 1972 homicide victim’s body to be exhumed for the purpose of DNA collection. The victim’s DNA was collected and sent to the University of North Texas. With the assistance of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, family reference samples were collected from Lewis House’s family members. These samples were sent UNT. Testing revealed the victim was not Lewis House. The victim’s DNA was entered into the national CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) data base and there were no matching profiles.

In November of 2023 the cold case unit submitted a section of the victim’s femur bone to Othram, Inc., a private lab specializing in forensic genetic genealogy in cold case investigations, for genealogical testing and examination. In April of 2024 Othram submitted a report which indicated that the victim could possibly be Mack Lavell Proctor, a white male with of date of birth of 11/28/1914.

Contact was made with Mr. Wright Proctor, of Ellijay, Georgia, the son of Mack Proctor. During interviews with Wright and other family members, it was learned that Mack Proctor was last seen by the family between 1969-1972 in Georgia, though he was never reported missing to law enforcement. 

Mr. Wright Proctor provided DNA samples to be compared with the 1972 Eloise homicide victim. Wright confirmed that he last saw his father sometime around 1969 - 1970 in Georgia. Wright stated that his father gave him the impression that he was leaving Georgia. Wright confirmed that his father was a master mechanic and would have his tools in his vehicle.

On May 5, 2024, detectives received a report from Othram that indicated that Wright Proctor is the biological son of Mack Lavell Proctor, indicating that Mack Lavell Proctor is the homicide victim. 

As a part of the cold case unit’s investigation, detectives learned that suspect Edgar Todd died 2015. Suspect Clarence Wallace Ingram died 1995. Clarence’s brother, Jonny Lee Ingram, to whom they reportedly sold to tools, died in 2003. 

It was discovered on Clarence Ingram’s criminal history that he received a criminal traffic citation on May 25, 1972, which was just eight (8) days after the victim’s body was found. He received the citation in Paw Paw, Michigan. This gives credence to what Charles Williams said, that the victim’s vehicle was sold in Michigan. Keeler, Michigan is 20 miles away from Paw Paw, Michigan. 

Clarence Ingram was charged with a homicide in Lake County on 04/21/1973 and was later convicted. During this incident he shot that victim with a 25 Caliber handgun, in the back, three times.

According to Mack Proctor’s family, Mack commonly had a 25 Caliber handgun with him at all times. 
Polk detectives attempted to complete a firearm trace, but the serial number of the gun did not reveal any history.

The cold case investigation revealed: 

• According to the Victim’s Family, the victim was (Mack Proctor) was known to be a heavy drinker.
• Clarence Ingram and Edgar Todd were close associates and resided in the Eloise and Winter Haven areas at the time of the homicide.
• The information provided by Charles Williams (the prison informant) was extremely accurate, including:
• The victim was shot twice in the head.
• The body dumpsite was near an overpass and a canal.
• The victim would have had a large amount of tools in his vehicle.
• The victim’s vehicle would have had Georgia license plate.
• Clarence Ingram was stopped by police in Michigan approximately a week later, near where it was said they sold Mack Proctor’s car.
• Charles Williams could only have learned these specific details from someone involved in the murder.
• Polk detectives confirmed that Clarence Ingram and Charles Williams (informant) were both incarcerated in the state prison in Raiford, Florida in 1973 when Williams claimed he was told this information by Ingram. 

We are extremely grateful for the assistance from Othram, Inc., who provided us with investigative leads that ultimately lead to our ability to positively identify Mack Proctor as the unknown 1972 homicide victim. Through that information, and the information provided to us by Charles Williams in 1974, we were able to piece together circumstantial evidence that strongly points to his killers: Edgar Todd and Clarence Ingram. They are dead, and unfortunately, we cannot hold them accountable for the cold-blooded killing and robbery of Mr. Proctor. However, we have provided some closure to Mr. Proctor’s family and concluded a cold case homicide investigation. I am so thankful to our outstanding team of detectives who worked hard to solve this case, especially our lead detective Master Deputy Jason McPherson.” Grady Judd, Sheriff

Time Line:
• May 17, 1972: the body of a “John Doe” homicide victim discovered in Eloise
• May 25, 1972: Clarence Ingram was stopped by police in Paw Paw Michigan and received a criminal traffic citation (8 days after the body was found in Eloise) and 20 miles away from where an informat tol detectives Ingram sold the murder victim’s car. 
• 04/21/1973: Clarence Ingram charged with a homicide in Lake County and was later convicted.
• Nov. 1973: Charles Williams and Clarence Ingram were confirmed to be in Raiford Prison (Union Correctional Facility in Raiford, Florida) at the same time.
• 01/14/1974: Informant Charles Williams told investigators that Clarence Ingram and Edgar Todd murdered a man in Winter Haven in 1972 and dumped his body near a canal and overpass. 
• 1995: Clarence Ingram died. 
• 2003: Jonny Lee Ingram died. 
• 2015: Edgar Todd died. 
• 02/10/2017: “John Doe” body exhumed, DNA extracted. Detectives confirmed “John Doe” was not Lewis House. “John Doe’s” DNA does not match any other profile in CODIS.
• 11/15/2023 – Detectives submitted a section of the victim’s femur bone to Othram, Inc., for genealogical testing and examination. 
• 04/01/2024 – Othram submitted a report indicating the victim could possibly be Mack Lavell Proctor, w/m dob: 11/28/1914. 
• 04/17/2024 – Detectives made contact with Wright Proctor, son of Mack Proctor, in Ellijay, Georgia. 
• 05/03/2024 – received a report from Othram indicating that Wright Proctor is the biological son of Mack Lavell Proctor, indicating that Mack Lavell Proctor is the 1972 victim, “John Doe.”