12-Year-Old Girl Sobs Her Love for Slain Child

12-Year-Old Girl SobsAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, April 28th, 1913

“I’d help lynch the man that killed poor Mary. If they’d let me, I’d like to hold the rope that choked him to death. That’s all he deserves. I was playing with Mary only a few days ago. She was my playmate nearly every day. But when I saw her dead body I wouldn’t have known her, her face was so bruised and out and swollen. It was horrible. I hope they catch the man that did it.”—VERA EPPS, twelve-year-old chum of Mary Phagan.

Vera Epps clenched her little hands and anger blazed through the tears in her eyes when she told to-day in her childish fury of the vengeance she would like to wreak upon the human beast that slew her playmate and chum, the murdered Mary Phagan.

She was at her home, 246 Fox Street, which is only a short distance from the Phagan home, the backyards of the two houses adjoining. Her eyes were still wet with weeping over the fate of her little chum and she was a-tremble with the horror of it. Her youthful knowledge could hardly comprehend it all. She only knew that a fearful crime had been committed; that her innocent playmate had been beaten and killed and that some man had been guilty of the deed. And her young heart cried for retribution.

“Oh, I just wish I might help lynch him,” she exclaimed. “I would be glad if I might only hold the rope. It’s all that he deserves.”

Then her youthful philosophy was evident when she said:

“It’s a heap worse for a white man to be guilty of such a terrible deed.”

It was difficult to get the little girl to talk at first. She had been crying for hours over the loss of her playmate and was almost in hysterics from the recollection of the gruesome spectacle which had met her eyes when she gazed upon the mutilated corpse.

She clasped and unclasped her hands nervously and was unable to utter a word when the first question were asked her.

“One thing I know,” she finally was able to say, “Mary was a good girl. She was just as nice as she could be. We all knew that. I know because I played with her every day. She played around with us girls and boys, but she never would talk to a man.

“She was a pretty girl, and just as sweet and good as she was pretty. I couldn’t believe it when Mrs. Reed, who lives next door, came over to our house and told us that Mary had been found murdered.

“It was only last Thursday that Mary and Lillian Waignel, who lives at 249 Fox Street, and I were playing over there on the embankment. We all cut our initials in the hard dirt on the embankment and we’re going to leave hers there. ‘M. P.’ If the rain washes the letters away we’re going to dig them again.”

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Atlanta Georgian, April 28th 1913, “12-Year-Old Girl Sobs Her Love for Slain Child,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)