Clarence Elkins served more than six years in Ohio prison for a murder and rape he didn’t commit before he was proven innocent and released – thanks to investigations conducted by his own family on the outside. Last week brought some closure to his case, as Earl Mann pled guilty to murdering Elkins’ 68-year-old mother-in-law and was sentenced to 55 years in state prison.
Every day Elkins spent in prison, his wife Melinda Elkins Dawson worked to solve the 1998 murder of her mother for which she believed Elkins had been wrongfully convicted. She identified Mann as a possible alternate suspect, and then learned that he and Elkins were incarcerated in the same cellblock. Elkins collected a cigarette butt from Mann, and DNA tests proved that he was the perpetrator in the murder of Dawson’s mother. Elkins’ lawyers at the Ohio Innocence Project worked with prosecutors to conduct further testing and Elkins was released on December 15, 2005. Dawson and Elkins have since separated, but they are expecting their first grandchild.
Now Dawson can look forward to the birth of her first grandchild in September. Her oldest son, Clarence Elkins Jr., and his wife, Angie, are expecting a baby girl. Younger son Brandon is making plans to marry his fiancée, Megan. "Now we can concentrate on everyday life, on being happy and having fun," she said.
Dawson also hopes her former husband can find peace and contentment now the true killer is behind bars: "He needed to get this behind him to get on with his life."
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. (Dayton Daily News, 08/24/08)