Chief and Sleuths Trace Steps in Slaying of Girl

Chief and Sleuths Trace Steps in Slaying of Girl

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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, April 28th, 1913

In the room where Mary Phagan was attacked and paid out her young life to the brutality of her assailant, across the floor where her limp form was dragged, down the stairs and down through the square trap-door into the dirty basement where her body was found, Chief of Police Beavers and two detectives trailed, step by step, every move of the girl’s murderer to-day.

Determined that not a clew should be overlooked in the efforts to fix guilt upon the man or men that took the young girl’s life, the Chief and his aides began at the very spot in the tip plant in the rear of the second floor where the bloodstains and the strands of matted hair indicated that the girl had put up such a desperate fight for her life and honor.

Curious Crowd About Factory.

Meanwhile the surging crowd of curiosity seekers on the outside of the building would be restrained, and that with the excitement of the employees made it necessary to close down the factory for the day.

Excited men in the throng, morbidly curious or filled with wrath at the inhuman deed, forced their way into the building and refused to turn back. A detective had an encounter with one insistent man who would not leave the building.

Inside the building the nervous tension of the employees was apparent in every department. With the ghost of the terrible crime stalking about, they could not work. After several hours of ineffectual work, the foreman saw that the girls and other employees were so wrought up over the tragedy that it was useless to keep them in the building longer. They were told to go.

Chief Beavers and the detectives, confident that they had established beyond doubt that the crime was committed inside the building by some one who had access, continued their painstaking and minute inspection.

Bloodstains on Floor.

They demonstrated that the stains on the floor were not of red paint, but were of blood. Had the stains been paint, they would have been soluble in alcohol. But when the alcohol was applied the tell-tale splotches only grew the brighter.

Added to this convincing evidence, the Chief had the testimony of employees in the building that these stains were not there Saturday when the building was cleaned up for the week. They must have come some time between Saturday and the time that they were discovered this morning. For the purpose of conclusive analysis, the Chief had pieces of the floor chiseled up and taken to headquarters.

The detectives believe they have solved the manner in which the assailant made his escape from the building. A staple in the rear door of the basement was found drawn entirely from the wood. The door is a sliding affair and the way in which the staple was pulled out leads to the belief that it was accomplished from the inside.

The theory is still held that the murderer gained entrance through a regular doorway and that the night-watchman, Newt Lee, could tell something of the circumstances if he wished.

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Atlanta Georgian, April 28th 1913, “Chief and Sleuths Trace Steps in Slaying of Girl,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)