Bessie McDowell


Bessie McDowell was well known in her community. She worked as a domestic and was employed by the VFW Auxiliary to prepare meals for the Junior Chamber of Commerce. In June 1956, McDowell was shot to death by Claude Ingle, a white loan collector, as she lay sleeping in her bed. Ingle and his 23 year-old son, Bobby Ray Ingle, went to McDowell’s home to collect a debt owed by her nephew, Charlie C. Williams. When Williams offered to pay back the loan the following day, the loan collector’s son slapped him. As Williams withdrew into the house, the loan collector shot his .32 caliber revolver through an open window of the house, ostensibly to frighten Williams. The bullet struck McDowell in the head and she died minutes later on the way to the hospital.

Legal Status

Claude Ingle was indicted for murder and eventually convicted of manslaughter. Ingle was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a $500 fine. Second-degree murder charges against Bobby Ray Ingle were dropped. Ingle appealed his conviction, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Alabama without opinion. Ingle v. State, 39 Ala.App. 698, 99 So.2d 554 (1957).