Caught Frank With Girl in Park, He Says

Caught Frank With Girl in Park

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

Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, May 11th, 1913

Robert T. House, a Special Policeman, Gives New Evidence to City Detectives.

In the evidence obtained Saturday in the Mary Phagan case, one piece that the detectives regard as the most important bore on Frank’s alleged conduct when he was in company with a young girl in Druid Hills Park.

The new evidence came from Robert F. House, a special policeman, who is in the employ of the Druid Hills Land Company. House declared that he had ejected a man from the park at one time from whom he obtained damaging admissions.

House visited the county jail and was taken to the cell of Frank. He identified Frank as the man whom he sent from the park. House told the officers that since reading of the Phagan murder he had recalled that the man he ejected from the park told him that he was superintendent of the National Pencil Company.

Came Frequently to Park.

The park guard related that the incident to which he referred occurred more than a year ago. He said that he had noticed the man come frequently to the park with the girl. When they appeared one afternoon shortly after 2 o’clock, he said he was determined to shadow them. He followed them and then suddenly surprised them by jumping into view.

The man whom House identified as Frank came forward and told the officer that he did not want the girl’s identity to become known and pleaded with House not to have them arrested. House declared that the man was profusely grateful on his assurance that he would not do so.

House has made a sworn statement in regard to the occurrence and will be used as a character witness against Frank.

New Testimony Secret.

Sealed affidavits, particularly one made by a person whose identity has been kept secret by the police, are expected to help raise the curtain of mystery which has hitherto enveloped the death of little Mary Phagan when the case is presented to the Grand Jury the latter part of this week.

The affidavits were furnished to Solicitor Dorsey by Chief of Detectives Lanford and number among them that of Monteen Stover and a “mysterious person.” It is said that the latter was in close vicinity of the pencil factory on the afternoon of the tragedy and heard the screams of the ill-fated girl.

Solicitor Dorsey yesterday declared that the sealed documents had not seen the light of day since they were signed by the witnesses and handed to him. The Solicitor intimated, however, that in these affidavits the State expected to find the chief power for its prosecution of the case before the Grand Jury.

Great Mass of Evidence, He Says.

So far, Mr. Dorsey declared, no one had been taken into his confidence, save one detective, whom the Solicitor termed “the greatest in America.” The two have accumulated a great mass of evidence, including samples of handwriting of almost every one who might have been concerned in the tragedy; also photographs and other material which might direct the accusing finger of the law in the right direction.

Solicitor Dorsey would not discuss the finding of the medical expert who made an examination of the slain girl’s body upon its second exhumation. However, great importance is attached to it.

Despite the great mass of evidence already obtained, and which the Solicitor is now shaping for its presentation to the Grand Jury, Mr. Dorsey declared that the “criminal expert” still is busily engaged on other phases of the puzzling case, the greater part of which is expected will be in substantiation of the sealed affidavits’ contents. No detail is being overlooked, and when the case goes to trial Mr. Dorsey said that he expected to have every link in a finely woven chain of circumstances perfected.

Lee’s Attorney Makes Statement.

Bernard L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, the negro suspect, said yesterday that he had accepted the case only after an investigation of five days that convinced him the negro had told nothing but the truth in connection with the murder. He said that if any later developments pointed to the negro’s guilt, he would not represent him.

Chappell was for four years assistant to the Solicitor General at Birmingham, and said his experience in this connection led him to believe the negro innocent.

Before accepting the case, he said, he spent hours with Lee daily, in which he exhausted every means to tangle him in his statements and find some evidence that he was not telling everything that he knew.

Chappell said he was strongly impressed with the negro because of the fact that when theories were advanced to him that would “shift the crime” he would not encourage them, but stuck to his statement practically the same as that given at the Coroner’s inquest.

Dr. Harris Silent on Findings.

Dr. H. F. Harris, director of the State Board of Health, refused Saturday night to discuss the report that he had discovered traces of a drug in his analysis of the contents of Mary Phagan’s stomach.

The rumor spread Saturday that Dr. Harris had submitted a formal report to Solicitor Dorsey, in which he disclosed that he had found indications that the girl was drugged before she was attacked and killed. The rumor is believed to have arisen from the secret consultation between Dr. Harris and the Solicitor.

“I am not at liberty either to confirm or deny the report,” said Dr. Harris. “Before I undertook the investigation I agreed that I would make public nothing of the results of my investigation. In any event, I would first submit my report to the Solicitor.”

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Atlanta Georgian, May 11th 1913, “Frank Caught With Girl in Park, He Says,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)