Blow Aimed at Formby Story

by Curator on May 4, 2017

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 19, 1913

DEFENSE HAS WITNESSES TO REFUTE WOMAN

Learns Identity of Other Persons in Home on Night of the Phagan Slaying.

That the defense in the trial of Leo M. Frank will be able, if it wishes, to produce three or four witnesses who will testify that the affidavit of Mrs. Mima [sic] Formby is untrue was discovered Thursday when the identity of the other persons in the house of Mrs. Formby, 400 Piedmont Avenue, the night of April 26, when Mary Phagan was murdered, was learned.

It was from Mrs. Formby that the detectives obtained what they consider one of their most sensational affidavits against Frank. She signed a statement swearing that Frank called her up a half dozen times the night of the murder and tried to persuade her to let him bring a girl to her house. She said she refused.

“It’s a matter of life or death,” she said she told her over the telephone.

Returns to Atlanta.

Mrs. Formby returned to Atlanta Wednesday, after a mysterious absence of several weeks. She said she proposed to stick to her original story when she was called as a witness in the trial of Frank.

In spite of her strong declaration in the truth of her affidavit, no one else who was in the house the night of April 26 has been found who will corroborate her statements. All say that the affidavit is false.

Fannie Jones, of 77 Pratt Street, negro maid at the Formby home, said that she usually answered the telephone there, and that it did not ring the night of April 26, as Mrs. Formby said it did. The Jones woman was sure that she would have known it if Frank had called half a dozen times between 6:30 and 10:30 o’clock in the evening.

She said she had been approached many times by detectives who sought to persuade her to corroborate the affidavit of Mrs. Formby. She added that she had told them she was not going to swear to a story she knew was not true.

Men Deny Woman’s Story.

Another witness, a man in the house at the time, told a Georgian reporter that he was at the house the night of April 26, and that he is positive that Frank did not call up. Mrs. Formby said in her affidavit that they were playing bridge when the telephone rang. This witness declared they did not play bridge during the whole evening, and that the telephone did not ring. He said that he is certain that the whole story of Mrs. Formby is a fabrication.

Still another witness is a friend of the other visitor at the Formby residence. He recalls the circumstances exactly as the other man who was there that evening.

Both Prosecution and Defense Are Confident.

Statements gathered Thursday morning from attorneys interested in each side of the case in the approaching trial of Leo M. Frank for the strangling of Mary Phagan indicate that in one respect, at least, it will be one of the most remarkable cases ever brought before a Fulton County court.

Its almost unprecedented feature will consist in the absolute confidence in the invulnerability of their evidence that is entertained both by the prosecution and the defense.

It is not unusual for both sides to anticipate victory, but it is rare for both to go into a trial, as they will June 30, upheld by a feeling of unshakable certainty that the evidence they will submit will be unassailable and that the case of the opposite side must, of necessity, be weak and hopelessly circumstantial.

Prosecuting officials and detectives have said repeatedly there is not a weak link in their whole chain of evidence. They admit it is circumstantial from beginning to end, but assert that the chain is so strong that it eliminates the “reasonable doubt.” [Remainder of article cannot be transcribed as the material is missing from our archived newspaper material — Ed.]

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The Atlanta Georgian, June 19th 1913, “Blow Aimed at Formby Story,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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