Authors dig deeper into decades-old Searcy murder that rocked the state of Arkansas


SEARCY, Ark. – This is the scandal that rocked the state of Arkansas in the mid-1970s – a well-known doctor case leading to a murder for pay. Now, decades later, that story is the subject of a new book delving deeper into crime.

Mike Allen recently leafed through his latest project which delves into a childhood memory that remains etched in his mind.

“This is something we talked about back home,” Allen said. “It was something that we talked about in the community and it was really kind of the center of the town for about six months.”

It’s 1974 in Searcy, Arkansas, a quiet little town filled with family-owned shops and home to a small Christian university.

“It was a tight community,” Allen said. “Everyone knew each other in some way. We knew our neighbors.

Around this time, Allen said that Dr. Porter Rodgers and his wife Fern were two of the most well-known people in the community.

“If you meet someone from Searcy who has been born for a certain amount of time, they’ll say, ‘Oh yes, Dr. Rogers delivered me,'” said co-author Deana Nall.

Overnight, the prominent and beloved doctor became a murder suspect.

“A company matron, if you will, in Searcy, Arkansas, White County was found brutally murdered with two bullets to the head in her house at night and it was just amazing,” said the former KARK 4 News reporter Mel Hanks.

Hanks covered the Fern Rodgers murder from the day it happened until the trial.

“Every day brought a new shock,” Hanks said.

It was quite a scandal, as Rodgers and his mistress conspired to have his wife killed. They hired a hitman and went all the way.

Decades later, as Mel was interviewed for the book, every detail came back.

“It was something that never left you because of all the elements he had,” Hanks said.

That’s how Allen felt, too. While he was only in third grade when this happened, he continued to think about the crime and the toll he inflicted on his hometown.

That’s why he decided to sit down and write about it with Nall.

“We were able to speak to three of the state police investigators,” Nall said. “We spoke to a few lawyers who had been involved, spoke to reporters who had covered the trial.”

These details are now linked in the book “A Murder in Searcy” which summarizes the crime itself, the investigation and the trial.

As well as sharing the facts of the case, they also wanted to put Fern at the forefront.

“Fern Rogers was a real person,” Nall said. “She was loved. She was a pillar in this community. She invested so much in this community and the people who lived there. She wasn’t just a murder victim. She has had a whole rich and busy life until this.

Page by page, they take the reader back in time and tell the story of a deadly love story that continues to cast a shadow over this quiet community.


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