FULL TEXT: Selma, Ala. – A 36-year-old woman, accused of seeking wealth through arsenic and insurance, was given a life term in prison, Wednesday, for the poison death of a neighbor’s 10-month-old child.
At the end of a two-day trial, a Circuit Court jury found Mrs. Mary Perkins guilty in connection with the death of an infant, Gloria Jean Montgomery.
The child was one of 84 persons upon whom Mrs. Perkins is said to have carried life insurance policies.
The Selma housewife’s elaborate scheme of insurance and murder for profit was brought to light by an investigation which followed the death of her own seven-year-old son, Charley Perkins, Jr.
The previous day she had increased insurance on his life from $250 to $1,000.
Ironically, no traces of poison nor evidence of foul play were uncovered in the death of the boy.
A Dallas County grand jury, however, later indicted on three counts of murder.
Exhumation and autopsy revealed traces of arsenic in the remains of her husband, Charley Perkins, Sr.; Mrs. Della Davis, a 70-year-old friend, and little Gloria Jean.
At the start of the probe, Mrs. Perkins shot herself in the chest in a suicide attempt, but was hospitalized and recovered.
Circuit solicitor Blanch McLeod stated that 10 bodies of persons insured by Mrs. Perkins were exhumed in the course of the investigation.
He stated also that Mrs. Perkins admitted that she poisoned Mrs. Davis and Gloria Jean because she needed the money from their policies to keep up the payments on other policies which were due.
The other two indictments against Mrs. Perkins remained on the court docket for possible future trial.
[“It’s End of the line for Mary Perkins,” Washington Afro-American (Washington, D.C.), Mar 4, 1958, p. 14]