Body Dragged by Deadly Cord After Terrific Fight

by Archivist on April 28, 2016

Body Dragged by Deadly Cord After Terrific FightAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, April 28th, 1913

Stretched full length, face downward on the floor of the basement at the rear of the plant, the body was found. A length of heavy cord or wrapping twine, which had been used by the slayer to strangle the child after he had beaten her to insensibility, was looped around the neck, and a clumsy bandage of cloth, torn from her petticoat, as if to conceal the horrible method of murder swathed the face.

The stray end of the cord lay along the child’s back between her two heavy braids of dark red hair as if it had been arranged that way deliberately.

No marks appeared to indicate that death came by any other means than strangulation, save a four-inch clean cut on the back of the head on the left side—a serious scalp wound—and a few bruises on the forehead and cheeks, on the left arm at the elbow and on the left leg just below the knee.

Body Dragged.

The neck was cut and bruised horribly by the contraction of the heavy strangling cord and the marks on the face indicated that the slayer had dragged the body back and forth across the basement floor to complete his work of garroling.

The child evidently had struggled and fought frantically before perhaps brought to unconsciousness by the blow on the head.

On her left arm was a small gold band bracelet that had sunk in to the white tender flesh as if under the pressure of a heavy grip. Two of the fingers on the left hand were bruised where a small signet ring encircled the third slender finger.

The child’s face was covered with dirt and sand when the detectives reached the basement after being notified by Newt Lee, the negro watchman, who called police headquarters when, as he asserts, he stumbled over the little body as he made his rounds. The fine black particles were ground into the neck and shoulders, indicating her body was bumped along the floor dangling and twisting at the end of the garroling cord.

Features Marred.

She was garbed in a one-piece pongee silk dress of lavender, simply made, and caught at the bodice and trimmed at the sleeves with cheap lace. The dress fell barely below the knees. The stockings were black and a black gun metal pump was on the right foot. The other pump was found a few feet away on a pile of trash. A plain blue straw hat, with the band or trimming missing, was found near the elevator shaft.

Two turquoise-blue silken ribbon bows were fastened on each side of the wavy red braid of hair. Strangely enough the bows had been kept in place by the improvised bandage torn from the underskirt by the slayer. The bow, said to have been on the hat, was never found.

The horrid manner of her death marred frightfully the girl’s once attractive features.

What had been a soft white skin—white almost to translucence under which the color might have run in life in pink swirls—was discolored and bruised.

The force of the blow on the head had blackened the right eye and swollen both lids beyond recognition. Into the forehead cuts and scratches was grounded dirt and sand.

The marks on the left arm and leg were skin bruises as if made when the body was dragged across the floor. The skin had been scraped off in little patches from spots about two to three inches in diameter.

Mary Phagan was 14 years old. She was slender in stature. She was perhaps 4 feet 10 inches in height and weighed about 105 pounds.

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Atlanta Georgian, April 28th 1913, “Body Dragged by Deadly Cord After Terrific Fight,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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