“Boots” Rogers Tells How Body Was Found

by Archivist on May 8, 2016

"Boots" Rogers, former county policeman who drove the police to the Pencil Factory when the first news of the Phagan slaying reached headquarters.

“Boots” Rogers, former county policeman who drove the police to the Pencil Factory when the first news of the Phagan slaying reached headquarters.

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

W. W. Rogers was the first witness. He lives at 104 McDonough Road, and operates an automobile for himself. He said he took a party of officers to the National Pencil plant at five minutes past 3 o’clock Sunday morning, April 27.

He corroborated statements of officers regarding the finding of Mary Phagan’s body and the notes beside it, and of the body being face downward.

Q. Who telephoned Frank of the murder?—A. Starnes called him and asked him to come to the factory.

Q. How long were you in front of the plant before you were let in?—A. Two or three minutes.

Q. Did you hear him coming?—A. We saw him coming down the steps with a lantern.

Q. What did he say?—A. She’s in the basement, white folks.

Q. Was he excited?—A. No, he answered questions coolly.

Q. What did he say when you went downstairs?—A. He thought at first it was something the boys had placed there to frighten him.

Q. How did he say he found the body?—A. On her face.

Q. How did you find it?—A. On her face.

Q. Do you remember any other questions asked him?—A. Yes, but he talked in a straight way.

Q. Who went back upstairs with Lee and Anderson after Lee had been placed under arrest?—A. No one else.

Q. Where did they go?—A. Into office, where Anderson attempted to get Frank over the phone.

Lee Was Not Excited.

Q. Was Lee excited then?—A. No.

Q. What else did you find?—A. We looked all over the place for her hat and shoe. Then Sergeant Brown and myself walked out the back door and down the alley. When we came back I went out on McDonough Road in my machine and got Miss Grace Hicks, who, I knew, worked at the pencil factory. I brought her to town about 5:30 or 5:45. She told us who the girl was.

Q. Did you ever get in touch with Frank while in the office?—A. After I got back with the young lady Mr. Starnes called Frank again and got him. That was a little after 6. It took about five minutes for me to go out to his house.

Q. Who answered the door?—A. Mrs. Frank.

Q. Was Frank there?—A. He was standing in the hall behind the curtains. He was dressed, with the exception of collar, coat and hat. He asked Black what was the matter and Black did not answer, but told him he had better put on his clothes and go to town with us. Frank was hoarse and Black suggested that a drink might do him good. Mrs. Frank went upstairs to see if there was any whisky in the house, but did not find any.

Says Frank Was Nervous.

Q. Was he well groomed?—A. Yes; I noticed particularly that he had on a clean white pleated bosom shirt. He was nervous, and moved about very nervously.

Q. How do you know he was nervous?—A. By the questions he asked.

NEW EVIDENCE IN PHAGAN CASE NOT YET BROUGHT OUT; DIG CAREFULLY FOR FACTS

He asked if anything had happened at the factory and when Black did not reply he asked if the watchman had found anything unusual. Black did not answer them, and he asked if the watchman had called him, and when we did not answer he said that he dreamed the night watchman called him about daybreak. He struck me as being highly nervous.

Q. What did you talk about on the way to town?—A. Black asked him if he knew Mary Phagan and he asked if she worked at the factory. Said he did not know whether he knew her or not.

Q. Where did you go?—A. To the undertaking establishment.

Q. Did Frank see the body?—A. No.

Q. Where did he go?—A. When we went into the room the undertaker turned the child’s head and Frank sidestepped into a toilet.

Q. Was Frank trembling?—A. I did not notice that he was.

Q. What questions were asked?—A. He asked us the girl’s name and we told him Mary Phagan and asked if he knew her. He said he would have to look on the payroll to find out. We went around to the factory. He opened the safe and got out his books.

Q. Who was in the factory?—A. Several officers and Mr. Darley, the foreman, went in just ahead of us.

Tells When She Was Paid.

Q. What did Frank do?—A. He looked in his books, ran his finger down a column and said: “Yes, she was here.” Then he said: “Yes, she was paid off yesterday. I can tell you just when. The stenographer and office boy left at 12 o’clock and she came in here—let’s see, I can tell you the exact time—it was 10 minutes past 12. I paid her $1.20.” Frank looked nervous and asked if anyone had found the envelope; that it must be around “there somewhere.”

Q. Did you take Frank into the basement?—A. Yes, we went down. Frank ran the elevator.

Q. Did he say anything about the negro running the elevator?—A. Yes, he was asked if the negro ever ran it, and he said no.

Q. Had you noticed the elevator before?—A. No, except when we first went into the basement.

Q. Where was it?—A. Above us.

Q. Did you inspect the shaft then?—A. Yes.

Q. Did you see anything?—A. No, but I did not have a flashlight.

Q. Was anything found there later?—A. Yes, a parasol.

Q. Did you make a close inspection when Frank went into the basement?—A. No, we just took a casual look around.

Q. When did you see the parasol, hat and shoe?—A. I did not see them until nearly 7 o’clock. The officers had them upstairs.

Frank Inspected Building.

Q. Did Frank inspect rest of the building?—A. Yes, and Chief Lanford and Frank, with several officers, went to the other floors and left the negro with me.

Q. Did Frank come back into the office?—A. Yes, he came in twice while I was there with the negro. He spoke to Lee once, shook his head and said “Too bad.”

Q. Did you notice the clock?—A. Yes. Frank and Darley were out there by the clock, and Frank said “I guess I had better change the clock.” He opened it, took out the slip and placed it by the clock while he went into the office to get another slip. He then called to one of us and I held the lever up and found a pencil sticking in hole. Frank asked Lee what the pencil was doing there. Lee said he put it there so he could be sure of hitting his number. Then Frank locked the box with a key. He had opened it with a key.

Q. What was done with the slip taken out?—A. Frank dated it and took it into his office.

Q. What date did he put on the slip?—A. I think it was April 26; I’m not sure.

Rogers said he looked at the slip and the first punch was at 6:30 and last at 2:30. There were no misses, he said.

Q. Where was the slip taken?—A. Frank took it into the office and put it on file.

Q. Did Chief Lanford take it away?—A. Not then; he may have got it later in the day.

Q. Are you sure there were no misses on the slip?—A. I would have noticed if there were.

Q. Did Darley and Frank have any conversation while on the way to the station house after that?—A. Not that I remember. I was driving the car and Frank was seated in Darley’s lap.

Q. Was Frank still nervous?—A. Yes. He still wanted a cup of coffee. He had been anxious all morning to get a cup of coffee. Several times he had asked Chief Lanford if he could spare him to go and get a cup of coffee.

Frank Wrote Nervously.

Q. What was done at the station house?—A. When we got there the officers were having Newt Lee write for them.

Q. Did he look nervous?—A. No, he was writing what they told him.

Q. Did they have Frank write?—A. Yes.

Q. Was he nervous?—A. Yes, his hand was shaking.

Rogers was excused and Lemmie Quinn, foreman of the metal department, was called.

* * *

Atlanta Georgian, May 8th 1913, “‘Boots’ Rogers Tells How Body Was Found,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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