Rex Perkins, Fayetteville’s celebrated old school attorney

Of all the stories still told about Rex Perkins, none has enjoyed such ongoing and avid public interest as the murder trial of Virginia “Queenie” Rand. Mrs. Rand, an attractive brunette and wife of J. O. Rand, a prominent Rogers businessman, was charged with the crime of second degree murder for the killing of Harry V. “Buddy” Clark on August 9, 1959. Clark, married and father of two, was shot in Virginia Rand’s bedroom.

The Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision in the Rand v. State appeal was delivered December 12, 1960. Their summary of the offense follows:

“It appears from the record that on the evening of August 8, 1959, the deceased, Clark, and his wife entertained Mr. and Mrs. Sam Davis in their home. At about 1:15 a.m. on August 9, Mr. and Mrs. Davis left the Clark home and at the same time Clark left in his car to check the receipts at the Horseshoe Grill, a café which he owned located some 8 blocks from the Clark home in Rogers. Although the evidence is somewhat uncertain, it is clear that Clark finished his work at the café and at 1:30 a.m. the night police radio operator received a call from a woman identifying herself as appellant, who said: “Send someone out here, I have had some trouble.” After the radio operator sent a patrolman to the Rand home, the appellant called again and said: “I have shot a man. I shot Buddy Clark.” Upon arrival at the Rand home, the patrolman was told by appellant that she shot Clark in her bedroom. The patrolman immediately went to the hospital where he found Clark on the floor in the hall. Nurses at the hospital testified that Clark came in the front door and fell to the floor. The records show he was admitted at 1:45 a.m. He expired at 4:17 a.m. that same morning.

“The patrolman testified he found tracks in the heavy dew going in and out of the Rand house and found a gun about 4 to 6 feet from these tracks. There were two bullet holes in the bedroom walls and 5 empty cartridges were found in the bedroom. The deceased was shot 4 times—3 times in the chest and one time in the right arm. No trace of blood was found in or around the Rand house but there was blood on the steering wheel and door of Clark’s automobile.”

The case transcript runs 796 pages leading some to observe that everybody in town must have testified. The question before the jury in the second trial, ordered after the appeal was: Is she guilty of murder? Can Rex get her off?

Rex Perkins was the man of the hour in this case, just as he had been in just about every other case he ever faced from the start of his legal career in 1932. But the law wasn’t his only passion. He loved his hunting dogs almost as much as he loved his wife and daughters, but none of that stood in the way of his pursuit of a strong drink and other women. Most of all he loved to play his fiddle. Truly a man with powerful passions and incisive intellect, even sixty years after his death, his memory remains strong within Washington County’s legal community.

Read his fascinating life story from a time when courtroom hijinks ranked high in the arsenal of criminal defense attorneys like Perkins. Available at Amazon.com