Coroner’s Inquest Resumed 2:30 p. m.; Frank Will Testify

Coroner's Inquest Resumed

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

Atlanta Journal

Monday, May 5th, 1913

Factory Superintendent Was Expected to Be the Chief Witness, Though 200 Others Had Been Subpoenaed


A Thousand Violations of Law Against Vice Do Not Equal Crime of Mary Phagan’s Murder, Says Judge Ellis

The jury empanelled a week ago by Coroner Paul Donehoo resumed its probe into the mystery of the murder of little Mary Phagan on Monday afternoon shortly after 2:30 o’clock.

Although police headquarters was crowded by nearly 200 witnesses, mostly employees at the National Pencil factory, where Mary Phagan met her death, it was said at the opening of the session that only a few witnesses would be called upon to testify.

The coroner, the chief of detectives and the solicitor general held a short conference just before the inquest was resumed.

It is said that the conference was held in order that the officials might reach a decision as to just what witnesses it will be necessary to bring before the inquest. It is said to be the desire of Solicitor Dorsey that the inquest may proceed without disclosing any more of the “state’s hand’ than is absolutely necessary.

L. M. Frank, superintendent of the factory, who is held in connection with the case, was expected to be among the first witnesses examined by the coroner’s jury. It was also considered probable that Newt Lee, the negro watchman, who is also under arrest in the case, would be recalled to the stand in order that the jury might ask him addition questions.

There was a possibility, however, of Mr. Frank being the only witness.

Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Mr. Frank, said he would make no objection to Mr. Frank appearing before the coroner’s jury and answering any questions that the jurors might wish to ask.

Should the inquest be concluded Tuesday afternoon, it is highly probable that the grand jury, which was empaneled Monday morning, will take up the Phagan case Tuesday, although no definite announcement has been made by the officials.

The detectives are said to have located another important witness, a woman who is said to have seen Mary Phagan at the factory last Saturday. It is said to be improbable, however, that this witness will be called Monday, and the officials are anxious to keep her identity a secret.

In his charge to the new grand jury, Judge W. D. Ellis, of the superior court, Monday morning called upon the jury to make an immediate and searching investigation of Mary Phagan’s murder. He declared that a thousand violations of the law against vice would not equal in crime the mistreatment and death of this fourteen-year-old child, and that the case demanded the prompt attention of the grand jury.

Judge Ellis’ reference to the Phagan case, taken verbatim from his charge to the jury, was: “The Mary Phagan case calls for your immediate and vigorous attention. The power of the state is behind you. What appears to be an awful crime has been committed, and the welfare of the community, the good name of Atlanta, public justice and the majesty of the law demand at the hands of this grand jury and of all officers of the law the most searching investigation and the prompt bringing to trial of the guilty party.”

Solicitor Dorsey was seen after the judge’s charge had been concluded and stated that in his opinion the Phagan case could hardly be taken up Monday. He thought it would probably be several days before the grand jury began its investigation, although he said it was possible for the jury to take the matter up at once if it saw fit to do so.


“We have sufficient evidence to justify the coroner’s jury in holding L. M. Frank and Newt Lee for further investigation by the grand jury,” declared Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford Monday morning.

The detectives are still searching for the mysterious “Girl in the Red Dress,” who stated in a store in Marietta last Wednesday that she was with Mary Phagan, when she went to the National Pencil company’s factory on Forsyth street, Saturday a week ago to collect her wages for two days’ labor.

Detectives Starnes and Campbell went to Marietta early in the morning Sunday, responding to telephone information given the officers as the result of The Journal’s story Sunday.

Many people, who believed that they might be of assistance in locating the girl called at detective headquarters after reading The Journal’s story, and as a result Chief of Police J. L. Beavers joined the detectives in his auto about 11 o’clock Sunday morning.

Chief Beavers stated on his return that the efforts to find the girl of the red dress had proved futile. This girl is supposed to have stated that she went to the factory with Mary Phagan and waited outside, while she went to get her money.

Soon she was notified by two girls who came down the steps, that Mary would be down in a few minutes. Later according to the story, a man came down and told her that Mary said not to wait as she would be busy half and hour or more.


It is said that important new evidence has been developed in the case. About this the detectives are reticent, and while they are not responsible for the statement, the general impression prevails that Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey is using every effort to prevent the public coming into possession of “the state’s case.”

A number of stenographers are busy at police headquarters making typewritten copies of the statements made by witnesses and principals in the case, and it is said that this work is being done in order that the case may be gotten before the coroner’s jury in a tangible shape.

Dr. Claude Smith, city bacteriologist, expects to complete his analysis of the bloodstains before the inquest is resumed. Dr. Smith is making an analysis not only of the blood stains on the shirt found in a barrel at the home of Newt Lee, but of the blood stains found on the floor of the second story of the factory, the blood on the lathe at the factory, and also of the blood on the garments worn by the dead girl.

Dr. Smith’s report will probably tell whether or not it is the same blood on the shirt and on the floor of the factory where Mary Phagan commenced her battle for life, and this will prove of great value to the police. The analysis is expected to have an important bearing on the case in many ways.


A statement was given out at the office of the solicitor general Monday to the effect that Harry Scott, the Pinkerton on the case, has placed much valuable information in the hands of the solicitor.

Scott, with John Black, of the city force, was closeted with the solicitor for more than an hour Monday, and he gave the official a detailed account of the results of his investigation. Scott, like the general public, is being kept in ignorance of the results of the independent investigation, which is being conducted by the solicitor, Solicitor Dorsey is probably the only man who is now in touch with every phase of the investigation.

The solicitor’s office seemed to consider the information disclosed by the Pinkerton man Monday to be of great importance to the state.


A letter, that may have an important bearing on the case, has come into the possession of Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons. This letter was the subject of a conference between Scott and Chief Lanford Monday and it is believed the detectives regard its contents as important. It is understood that the letter is from the mother of a young man, who formerly worked at the factory and who may be able to give the detectives some information of value. The detectives declined to even admit that they had such a letter.


The body of Mary Phagan was exhumed Monday by direction of Coroner Donehoo, who went to Marietta for the purpose. An examination of the contents of the stomach will be made for the purpose of determining whether the child had been poisoned before she was attacked on the day of her death. It will probably be several days before this examination can be completed. The exhumation was done very quietly, and few people in Marietta knew anything about it.

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Atlanta Journal, May 5th 1913, “Coroner’s Inquest Resumed 2:30 p. m.; Frank Will Testify,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)