Clarence Elkins, Sr.

Clarence Elkins lost seven and a half years of his life in prison for a horrendous crime he knew he didn't commit.

Convicted of the brutal rape and murder of his former mother-in-law and the beating and rape of a 6-year-old niece from a prior marriage, Clarence, a man of faith, never stopped believing that one day he would get his life back.

Clarence Elkins

Truth is sometimes as strange as fiction. Clarence and his family suspected that another man in prison, Earl Mann, had committed the crimes for which Clarence had been wrongfully convicted. Clarence gained freedom when he picked up a cigarette butt that Mann dropped in the prison yard and mailed it out of the prison so that DNA on it could be tested. The results of that test matched the profile found on the victims and their clothing. 

Faced with that evidence, prosecutors stated that Clarence had proven his innocence and the court vacated his sentence. Clarence walked out of prison on December 15, 2005, after serving more than six years in prison. In August 2008, Mann pled guilty to aggravated murder, attempted murder, aggravated burglary and rape in connection with this crime.

Clarence was the first person freed through the work of the Ohio Innocence Project. He generously devotes his time to educating and inspiring others, his advocacy for reform measures, and his kindness to all. He and his loving wife, Molly, reside in Central Ohio.

You can learn more about Clarence at and more about Clarence’s case through the National Registry of Exonerations.

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