Polk County deputies solve 1972 cold case murder

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies in Polk County said they have solved a murder investigation that started 52 years ago.


Detectives said they identified the victim using DNA testing and found the two suspects responsible for the murder, both of whom are dead.

The investigation started when the body of a man was found in a field on May 17, 1972, in unincorporated Eloise.

A person discovered the victim while fishing south of the canal between Lake Lulu and Lake Ship.

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The man was in his 50s or 60s, did not have any identification, and was shot in the head.

Deputies said no leads or witnesses were identified, and the man was buried as a “John Doe” 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 in Florida with Clarence Ingram. Williams said Clarence Ingram told him the following:

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• 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 the 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 the victim’s vehicle had a Georgia license plate.

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Detectives said they contacted Georgia authorities and were told it could be released to a missing person named Lewis House.

After a further investigation, no other evidence was found and the case went cold.

In 2017, the victim’s body was exhumed for the purpose of DNA collection.

Testing used family DNA and confirmed the victim was not Lewis House. It was sent to a database and still no matches were found.

Further testing in 2023 found that the victim was Mack Proctor of Ellijay, Georgia.

Detectives were later able to tie in Proctor’s death with the two deceased suspects, Clarence Ingram and Edgar Todd.

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“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,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “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.”

Polk County deputies released the following timeline to summarize the investigation:

• 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 told detectives Ingram sold the murder victim’s car.

• May 21, 1973: Clarence Ingram was 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.

• Jan. 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.

• Feb. 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.

• Nov. 15, 2023 – Detectives submitted a section of the victim’s femur bone to Othram, Inc., for genealogical testing and examination.

• April 1, 2024 – Othram submitted a report indicating the victim could possibly be Mack Lavell Proctor, w/m dob: 11/28/1914.

• April 17, 2024 – Detectives made contact with Wright Proctor, son of Mack Proctor, in Ellijay, Georgia.

• May 3, 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.”

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