RAPE, MURDER Summit County to charge new suspect
The inmate, who claims innocence, has failed five polygraph tests.
AKRON (AP) -- Now that new DNA evidence has freed a man convicted of murder and rape, authorities are building a case against another suspect with a history of violence who is serving a seven-year sentence for raping three girls younger than 10.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Earl Gene Mann, 32, soon will be charged in the 1998 murder of Judith Johnson, 58, and the rape and beating of her then-6-year-old granddaughter.
The new DNA evidence showed that Clarence Elkins, 42, Johnson's son-in-law, could not have committed the crimes, Bill Canterbury, spokesman for Walsh, said Thursday when Elkins was released after seven years in prison.
Elkins, who shared the same cell pod at Mansfield Correctional Institution with Mann, helped secure a DNA sample by retrieving a cigarette butt used by Mann.
Authorities also say Mann now admits to being in Johnson's house the day she was killed. The admission came after one of the five polygraph tests Mann flunked about the death.
But Mann has continued to proclaim innocence and said he does not know how DNA from the crime scene matched that on the cigarette butt.
In a letter to the Akron Beacon Journal in September, when his name emerged as a possible suspect, he said if "Summit County was up to its old tricks again," it need not hire a public defender. "I will be representing myself to ward off whatever this 'situation' may be."
At that time, he had not been questioned by police.
"What kind of situation could this possibly be? Well if it's that 'big' I guess I'll find out soon," he wrote.
Mann said he hardly talked to Elkins while they were in prison together. Mann was moved to the Toledo Correctional Institution last summer after attacking an inmate, attorneys say.
Mann grew up in Akron and dropped out of school in the 10th grade. He had three girls and, at times, lived with them and their mother on a street a couple of doors away from Johnson.
On June 7, 1998, Johnson's granddaughter, who often played with Mann's daughters, spent the night at Johnson's home. The next morning, after the attack, the granddaughter went to the home of the three girls for help.
At the same time, Mann had escaped a halfway house in Akron and was on his way to Coshocton where he has relatives.
He was arrested again, and while serving time for beating a man and robbing a 74-year-old man of his wallet, Mann was back in court in 2002, this time on charges accusing him of raping the three girls.