10,000 Throng Morgue to See Body of Victim

by Archivist on April 28, 2016

10,000 Throng MorgueAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, April 28th, 1913

Coroner’s Jury inspects remains and scene of tragedy, then waits until Wednesday

Lying on a slab in the chapel of the Bloomfied undertaking establishment, with the white throat bearing the red marks of the rope that strangled her, the body of Mary Phagan was viewed by thousands this morning.

No such gathering of the morbidly curious has ever before been seen in Atlanta. More people were attracted than by any crime in the history of the city. The crowds came in droves, and a steady procession passed before the slab on which lay the little body. Old men and young men, women with babies in their arms and women who tottered with age, little friends of the dead child and little children who had be raised in the arms of their mothers before they could see the white faces of their dead playmate — crowded into the little chapel.

Crowd Before Daybreak

Long before daylight the crowd began to form in front of the undertaking establishment. By 6 o’clock several hundred had come, and were awaiting with tense eagerness for the opening of the doors. Factory girls and laboring men, passing on their way to work, were caught by the lure of the tragedy and crowded into the line. A number of fashionably dressed women alighted from their automobiles, and with veils drawn over their faces pressed against the plate glass windows of the chapel.

By 8 o’clock there were more than 1,000 persons gathered around the morgue. The jam at the doorway was so great that extra policemen were called. When the doors were opened the crowd was permitted to pass in one by one and view the form.

An old man, who had known the Phagan family for years and had rocked the dead child on his knees, was the first to view the remains. For more than three minutes he stood with bared head beside the body.

It is estimated that 10,000 people have viewed the body of the child since it was found in the basement of the building on Forsyth Street. All day yesterday thousands of people crowded into the little chapel, and P.J. Bloomfield declared that no less than 4,000 persons entered his place during the day.

This morning the crowd was even greater, and since 6 o’clock it is estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 have passed in silent review before the dead child.

Inquest Is Begun

At 10 o’clock, when Coroner Donehoo began the inquest, the chapel was cleared of the spectators and the body of the child removed to a private room. The men impaneled to inquire into the death of the child were:

Homer C. Ashford, foreman; John Miller, J.C. Hood, C.Y. Sheets, Glenn Dewberry and Clarence Langford.

No witnesses were examined this morning by the Coroner’s jury. The six men viewed the remains and were shown by physicians the manner in which the child met her death, after which they visited the plant of the National Pencil Company, where the murder occurred. There they made a thorough examination of the basement where the child’s body was found, inspected the tip plant on this second floor, where the bloody strands of hair were found, and followed the trail of blood through the building to the scene of the crime.

At noon Coroner Donehoo dismissed the jury until Wednesday morning at 9 o’clock, when the examination of witnesses will take place. The Coroner refused to give out a list of the persons he had summoned before the jury.

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Atlanta Georgian, April 28th 1913, “10,000 Throng Morgue to See Body of Victim,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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