By DEBRA DENNIS / The Dallas Morning News
Reginald Perkins embarked on a series of heinous crimes years before he brutally killed his stepmother and robbed her of her wedding ring in 2000, the crime for which he's sentenced to die today.
The 53-year-old Fort Worth man was in prison for five years, sitting on Texas' death row, when science linked him to the 1991 slayings of Hattie Wilson, 79, and her niece Shirley Douglas, 44. The women were found strangled inside their East Fort Worth apartment.
"He is very smart and very scary," said Fort Worth police Detective Manny Reyes, who visited Perkins on death row in October to obtain the DNA connecting the convicted murderer to the deaths of Wilson and Douglas.
Gertie Perkins, 64, was also strangled. Prosecutors say she was much more than a stepmother to the man convicted in her murder.
"He called her Mom," said Kevin Rousseau, an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County, who prosecuted Perkins. "He was her stepson, but she raised him. He spent a good part of his life growing up with her."
Perkins, who lived in Texas and Ohio, was a convicted rapist on parole
from Cleveland when he killed his stepmother. He moved to Fort Worth in February 2000 after Ohio officials paroled him. Gertie Perkins helped set up her stepson in the family's trucking business.
"They provided him a dump truck," Rousseau said. "They had done just about everything you can for your child In the winter of 2000, Reginald Perkins was having financial problems. On Dec. 1, he cashed two checks from the family's trucking business and pawned his stepmother's wedding ring for $150.
Three days later, Gertie Perkins was reported missing. Inside her southeast Fort Worth home, police found bloodstains, carpet removed and a phone cord disconnected. On Dec. 5, 2000, Perkins led officers to her body in a hospital parking garage near downtown Fort Worth. She had been strangled and placed in the trunk of her own car.
Perkins, police and prosecutors say, has a long history of violence.
In November, he was linked to the 17-year-old slayings of Wilson and Douglas, who was also raped in the attack at their apartment in East Fort Worth.
There were no signs that someone had broken in. Perkins had dated a family member of one of the women, police said.
Reyes, the Fort Worth detective, said that when he visited death row in October, Perkins was convinced that "everybody was out to get him." "There was no remorse," said Reyes of the department's cold-case division. "He accused us of planting the DNA."
Perkins' attorneys argued unsuccessfully that he is mentally retarded and ineligible for a death sentence. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Perkins' case, setting the stage for his execution.
Today, he is expected to become the second Fort Worth man executed in Texas this year. Last week, Curtis Moore, 40, was put to death for brutally killing three people.
When Perkins was convicted in 2002, evidence from two Ohio homicide cases was used in the sentencing phase of his trial.
"He's a serial killer," Rousseau said. "His crimes are particularly heinous."In 1982, Perkins was convicted in Ohio of raping two 12-year-old girls, and he remains a suspect in the two slayings there, officials said.
"He's killed women in Ohio and raped two 12-year-old girls and came here and killed two more women and his stepmother," Rousseau said. "Those are the ones we know about."