Coming of Burns is Assured, Says Colonel Felder

Coming of Burns is Assured

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

Atlanta Constitution

Friday, May 16th, 1913

To Solve Phagan Murder, Joseph Hirsch, Capitalist, Starts Public Subscription to Assure Fund for Burns.


Local Detectives in Conference and Are Believed to Have Secret Documents Bearing on Case.

With The Constitution’s donation of $100 as a nucleus, Atlanta today begins building a fund with which to employ to ferret the mystery of Mary Phagan’s murder Detective William J. Burns, America’s most successful detective.

Assurance that subscriptions will be plentiful and generous came to Attorney Thomas E. Felder last night in telephone messages from numerous public-spirited business men, who informed him that they would send checks this morning for their share of the fund.

One was these was Joseph Hirsch, a leading capitalist and financier, who told Colonel Felder that he wanted to see Atlanta take such means to solve the baffling mystery as to employ the detective by public subscription.

“I have infinite confidence in Mr. Burns’ ability,” he said. “I am assured that he will clear the murder and apprehend the murderer. I will send a check Friday morning for my share of the amount necessary to procure him.”

Burns’ Coming Sure.

Mr. Felder stated last night that Burns’ trip to Atlanta was guaranteed. He will arrive in New York on June 1, and will come immediately to the south. The headquarters of his agency already have dispatched an expert criminal investigator to precede him to this city and to take up the murder investigation before the case grows cold.

The expert left New York Thursday. He will arrive in Atlanta some time today, and will begin work right away. His chief object will be to blaze a trail for his superior and to prepare the investigation for Burns to take hold.

Besides Mr. Hirsch, six other prominent business men telephoned Colonel Felder Thursday night to assure him of their co-operation in obtaining Detective Burns. The attorney would not divulge the names, because of the expressed desire to withhold their identity. Neither would he give the names of the five women who are conspicuous figures in Atlanta’s social world, and who are playing prominent parts in the campaign to raise the Burns fund.

Society Women Aid.

“This quintet of society representatives,” says Mr. Felder, “are the source of the idea to raise the Burns fund through public subscription.” When it was made known that Colonel Felder was endeavoring to employ the noted sleuth, he was visited by the five women, who suggested that, if the money could not be raised otherwise, public subscriptions be solicited.

It will require three weeks or a month for Burns to complete his investigation. Colonel Felder is informed by Raymond Burns, the detective’s son and manager of the Burns headquarters in New York. The expert investigator preceding him will set instantly to work today and [1 word illegible] said will operate in conjunction with the Solicitor general’s office.

In courtesy to Burns, Mr. Felder will not reveal the amount necessary for his employment. It can be obtained easily though, says the attorney, and within three days or less, he declares, the subscription campaign will have been finished.

“Burns is coming—that’s a settled fact,” Mr. Felder told a Constitution reporter last night. The money [2 words illegible] to procure him depends mostly on the time necessary for his investigation. He will not be in Atlanta for more than three weeks at the longest.

He will bring with him a staff of expert criminal investigators. His work will be secret and not until his investigation is completed will any inkling of his progress be made known. The secrecy of his operations is one of the many secrets of his phenomenal success as a detective.

Donations Expected Today.

Colonel Felder expects a number of donations today. He requests that all persons subscribing to the Burns fund to notify or send them checks to Charles I. Ryan, cashier of the Fourth National bank in whose charge has been placed the financial end of the move to employ the detective.

For the second time since her husband’s arrest, Mrs. Leo Frank visited the prisoner in the Tower Tuesday afternoon. He was brought by a turn key from his cell on the second floor to the dining room downstairs where they were closeted for an hour or more.

Tears dimmed the eyes of both husband and the pretty wife when they emerged. He walked with unsteady step back to his cell and she hurried to the street dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief as she made her way to the entrance. On account of her weakened condition caused by the shock of her husband’s arrest and the charge against him, Mrs. Frank has been able to make but two trips to the jail.

On the second journey, she brought a tray of dainties and a package of clothing. Frank is undergoing imprisonment with remarkable fortitude. His appearance does not betray the effect of confinement, and he spends most of the time reading and pacing the confines of his cell.

Documents Held Secret.

It was freely rumored around police headquarters yesterday that detectives have procured new and startling evidence which they intend holding secret until the presentation of the Phagan case before the grand jury. It is said to be in documentary form and in the shape of certain papers or letters.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, detectives from headquarters and members of the solicitor’s staff held secret conference in Dorsey’s office in the Thrower building last night. They were closeted for several hours after 6 o’clock.

Although no one who was present would talk, the report is that the consultation was for the purpose of preparing the evidence at hand so that it can effectively be submitted to the grand jury before which the mystery will go some time late next week.

Mr. Dorsey announced Thursday that in the event a bill of indictment was returned against Frank or the negro, Newt Lee, or against both, the case would not go to trial before the last of June. This sets at rest a general impression that the case would be rushed to trial.

An interesting witness who has been summoned before the solicitor is J. Williams, ex-policeman and operator of a livery stable at 35 South Forsyth street, only a few doors distant from the pencil plant. Williams has not yet made his statement, but will probably be called to the solicitor’s office some time today.

The new witness was in the basement of the factory early Sunday morning. He had come from his establishment shortly after it had been made known that a girl’s body had been discovered in the cellar. It was he who lay in the spot in which the murdered girl was found while the negro night watchman went through the pantomime of the discovery.

Will Describe Frank’s Conduct.

Williams was also in the place upon Frank’s arrival and will be asked by Mr. Dorsey to testify to his observance of Frank’s conduct whether or not the superintendent was nervous or agitated. He also will be questioned as to whether or not he witnessed Frank’s failure to replace the broken staple and on account of reported nervousness, turn the hammer and staple over to his assistant, Mr. Darley.

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Atlanta Constitution, May 16th 1913, “Coming of Burns is Assured, Says Felder,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)