Charge is Basest of Lies, Declares Gantt

Charge is Basest of Lies Declares GanttAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, April 29th, 1913

John Milton Gantt, the accusation of a terrible crime hanging over him, from his cell at police headquarters, has made to-day a complete denial of any connection with the Mary Phagan murder in the first formal statement to the public since his arrest in Marietta yesterday afternoon.

The statement, which was given to a Georgian reporter, was said by Chief Beavers to be substantially the same as that taken by the police department stenographer last night for the use of the city detectives.

This remarkable denial, if it is to be given credence, sweeps away a whole train of circumstantial evidence that appeared most strongly to connect him with the brutal tragedy.

He is Contradicted.

E. F. Holloway, timekeeper for the National Pencil Company, told a Georgian reporter that he had it from Gantt’s own lips that he had been out with the Phagan girl.

He never even walked home with the girl, he insists.

Mary Pirk, one of the girls employed with Mary Phagan, told the authorities that she had heard the girls at the factory say that Gantt was in love with Mary and waited to walk home with her frequently.

Gantt declares in his statement that he was at the home of his half-sister, Mrs. F. C. Terrell, 284 East Linden Street, the night that the murder was committed, going there directly from a pool room.

A woman describing herself as Gantt’s half-sister, is said by the police to have told two plain clothes men that Gantt was not there when they went to look for him Sunday night; that he had not been there for some time and was on his way to California.

Reverse Statements.

To-day Mrs. Terrell reversed the statement that is said to have been made to the plain clothes men and declared that Gantt not only was there, but slept with her son, Will.

Gantt’s statement in full follows:

“I do not deny going to the pencil factory Saturday afternoon. My purpose in going there was to get a pair of shoes I had left there when I quit work there about three weeks ago.

“After getting my shoes from the factory, I walked around town for a time and at about 7:30 in the evening met Arthur White, who worked for the pencil company. With him I went to the Globe Pool Rooms in Broad Street, near Marietta.

“I didn’t play, but sat down and watched them for several hours, leaving there probably at 10:30 o’clock. I went to the home of my half-sister, Mrs. F. C. Terrell, 284 East Linden Street, where I have been staying and she let me in the house. Mrs. Terrell’s husband is superintendent of the Forsyth Building.

Slept All Night.

“I suppose she let me in about 11 o’clock and I went directly to bed. I slept all night until Sunday morning.

“I didn’t hear of the murder until Sunday night when I went to call on a young woman with whom I have been going. She is Miss Annie Chambers, of 18 Warren Place. I went there about 8 o’clock Sunday evening.

“Her brother Phillip, who works at the National Pencil Company’s plant, rushed into the room and said that a girl had been murdered in the basement of the factory. He did not know who it was. That was the very first I heard of the crime.

“I did not learn the horrible details of the murder until I read them in the papers Monday morning.

“I was not trying to escape when I went to Marietta Monday morning. I had bought a crop near Marietta and was going up there to farm. I had made arrangements some time ago with my mother to see her Monday and my trip there was simply to fill that engagement.

Basest Sort of a Lie.

“I would not harm any girl, least of all the daughter of Mrs. Coleman. Ten years ago I knew Mrs. Coleman when she was Mrs. Phagan and lived near Marietta in Cobb County. Mary was just a little girl then about four years old. From the time I knew her then as little more than a toddler child until I went to work in the pencil factory last June I never saw her.

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Atlanta Georgian, April 29th 1913, “Charge is Basest of Lies, Declares Gantt,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)