Col. Felder Denies Offering $1,000 or Any Other Sum for Affidavit Held by Detectives

Col Felder DeniesAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 23rd, 1913

At the Request of The Journal He Left Trial of a Case in Marietta and Came to Atlanta Friday Afternoon, Where He Dictated a Statement Without Having Read the Dictographed Interview Which Is Given Elsewhere in This Paper.


Col. Felder Declares He Told Febuary and Colyar He Would Introduce Them to Some Gentlemen Who Might Be Interested in Getting Possession of Evidence on the Detective Department—Says He Never Claimed He Had Been Employed by the Colemans.

The Atlanta Journal has developed the fact that the city detectives have dictographed a conversation alleged to have taken place between Colonel Thomas B. Felder, the widely known attorney, G. C. Febuary, secretary to Chief of Detectives N. A. Lanford, and A. S. Colyar, a citizen, alleged to have occurred between them Wednesday afternoon shortly after 3 o’clock in Room 31 of Williams House No. 2. That the detectives believed they were setting a trap for the astute attorney is known, but there is also a probability that Colonel Felder on his part was endeavoring to trap the trappers.

After having secured a stenographic report of the dictographed conversation, which has been sworn to by George M. Gentry, a nephew of Colonel W. T. Gentry, president of the Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co., the detectives, for reasons satisfactory to themselves, failed to proceed any further. A copy of the stenographer’s typewritten record is in their possession, but if they had any intention of bringing charges against Colonel Felder, they seem to have, at least temporarily, abandoned their plans.


The Journal is today presenting the complete record or the dictographed conversation and leaves the public to decide whether the detectives have trapped the attorney, or the attorney has trapped the trappers. The Journal also presents a copy of the affidavit which was the principal subject under discussion in the dictographed interview. Another affidavit, sworn to by Secretary G. C. Febuary and A. S. Colyar, detailing an alleged interview which occurred in the office of Colonel Felder, in the Equitable building on last Monday night and relating to the same subject as that under discussion when the dictograph was at work is also given.

Still another affidavit referring to a telephone conversation between Colonel Felder and A. S. Colyar is sworn to by Detective R. S. Ozburn, who overheard same.


Colonel Thomas B. Felder was in Marietta Friday morning engaged in the trial of a case. He was communicated with by The Journal and informed that a story of importance was to be printed in The Journal in which he was interested. Colonel Felder stated that he would come to Atlanta and did so at 1:30 p. m. Colonel Felder said:

“On my arrival at The Journal office, Mr. J. R. Gray, editor of The Journal, informed me that the manuscript forming the basis of the story was in the hands of the printer and it would be impossible to submit it to me at this time, but that the same would be submitted as soon as it came from the machine.

“In the absence of the manuscript, Mr. Gray outlined the sum and substance of the story, adding that The Journal would go to press at 2:30 or 2:45, and suggested that I make any reply that I might desire. My reply to this was first that I could not make answer to it without reading the story, and second that I would not have time between this hour and the hour at which The Journal goes to press to reply fully. As I understand from Mr. Gray there is nothing in the article which involves wither my personal or professional integrity, unless it should be the particular portion which states that I offered to pay one thousand dollars for the possession of certain documents which were to be taken from the safe of the chief of detectives.

“As to this, I desire to say first, and will establish this by proof, that I declined to pay a thousand dollars or any other sum sum [sic] for this evidence but stated to the parties that I would introduce to them a gentleman, namely: Mr. E. O. Miles, who might be interested in securing possession of this evidence. I am informed that Mr. Miles after meeting the parties introduced Mayor Woodward and several other gentlemen who are interested in probing the police department to them. I positively and emphatically declined to accede to the suggestion of these parties to go to East Lake. I stated to them that if they had any business with me that they might come to my office.


“On tomorrow, after I have had an opportunity to read the article I will prepare a full and complete reply thereto and will submit affidavits covering the same. My detailed reply will appear in the Sunday paper. In addition to this I will undertake to show to the people of Atlanta a condition which exists in respect to the so-called ‘detective department’ that will be appalling to them as it was to me.

“In relation to the Coleman affidavit, I only have to say that I have never claimed that this man Coleman or his wife employed me in the Phagan case. But I do say that Mr. Coleman personally approved the employment and assured me that his wife would do likewise.

“As to the story that an alleged conversation with me was dictographed, I wish to say, first, that I do not believe that these parties employed a dictograph to report my conversation because it is a well-known fact that the inventor of the dictograph does not permit its use to irresponsible blackmailers and character assassins. Second, if these parties employed a dictograph, they put themselves to unnecessary trouble as I said nothing to them in the several interviews that occurred that I was not willing to put in writing and have published in the press.

“In conclusion, permit me to say that in my reply a full and accurate report of what occurred in connection with this transaction will be given to the public, along with some other matters that have not heretofore been presented.

“I was strongly tempted a week ago to publish the history of this transaction but I felt that nothing should be done in the premises to prejudice the Phagan case, and when called upon by a reporter of The Journal several days ago to discuss this matter with him, I declined to discuss it and begged him not to publish anything in relation to it as I was too busily engaged in chasing elephants to engage at this time in a chase for mice.”

After reading over his statement Mr. Felder left The Journal office to fill another engagement. He stat[e]d that h[e] did not have time to wait for proofs on the dictograph records and the various affidavits, which had been promised him as soon as the type was in such shape as to permit of it being proved.

Colonel Felder, as is well-known, has taken an active interest in the efforts being made to solve the Phagan murder mystery. His name first become [sic] associated with the case when it was announced that he had been employed by the citizens of Bellwood, friends and neighbors of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Coleman, the step-father and mother of the murdered girl, to help in the search for evidence and to prosecute the murderer if found.


Colonel Felder made a visit to New York recently, and upon his return let it be known that he had conferred with the New York agency of William J. Burns, the famous detective, in reference to the Phagan case. A few days later C. W. Tobie, criminal investigator for W. J. Burns, reached Atlanta, and he has been actively engaged in the search for evidence ever since. Through the press Colonel Felder started a subscription to bring Mr. Burns himself to Atlanta. This fund has been largely subscribed to by the public, and Colonel Felder is confident that the great detective will be brought here and use his personal efforts to discover and convict the murderer of Mary Phagan.

Colonel Felder is one of the most widely known lawyers in the south. He was chief counsel for Charles W. Morse, the famous banker, and was largely instrumental in securing his pardon before the expiration of his sentence in the Atlanta federal penitentiary. He has also been retained as counsel in many other cases of nation-wide importance.

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Atlanta Journal, May 23rd 1913, “Col. Felder Denies Offering $1,000 or Any Other Sum for Affidavit Held by Detectives,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)