Dorsey Puts Own Sleuths Onto Phagan Slaying Case

by Archivist on May 2, 2016

Dorsey Puts Own Sleuths onto Phagan Slaying Case

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

Atlanta Georgian

Friday, May 2nd, 1913

200 Witnesses To Be Called When Inquest Into Slaying of Factory Girl Is Resumed Next Monday—Detectives Are Busy.

Coroner Declares Inquiry Will Not Be Made Hastily—Every Clew To Be Probed Thoroughly. Lee and Frank Are in Tower.

Grand Jury Meets, but Considers Only Routine Matters—Was No Truth in Report That Militia Had Been Ordered to Mobilize.

[There were no developments of importance in the Phagan case to-day. This does not mean that the detectives and police force are not hard at work on the mystery. They are. Many so-called “clews” are being investigated, but scores of them have been followed up by detectives and found valueless.

The grand jury met this morning and considered only routine matters. The Phagan case was not taken up at all. — A portion of text from the same article in the Georgian but from the “Home” edition of the newspaper — Ed.]

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey this afternoon engaged private detectives to run down clews which have not as yet been fully developed by the men already working on the Phagan case.

The detectives are to investigate certain phases of the mystery which have previously received little attention and which he thinks may be of importance.

Mr. Dorsey had conferences to-day with the city detectives and with Miss Hattie Barnett, of the Pinkertons. The new Grand Jury which meets Monday may consider the Phagan case.

The Grand Jury met this morning and considered only routine matters. The Phagan case was not taken up at all.

The report that the National Guard had been mobilized originated because Adjutant-General Nash requested some of the officers of the Fifth Regiment to be within call in case of trouble. A few members of the Fifth Regiment were at the Armory last evening, but all had returned home by midnight.

Inquest To Be Thorough.

Coroner Donehoo said to a Georgian reporter that the mystery which surrounds the killing of Mary Phagan is by no means solved, and that the investigation would be carried on as long as there is a thread of evidence to be unraveled.

“I would not be holding this jury,” said the Coroner, “if I were satisfied or were reasonably certain as to the facts in our possession. A case like this, so deeply wrapt in mystery, can not be solved in a day, and if there is anybody in Atlanta who is not pleased with the progress being made, his public spirit should make him come forward and lend his assistance. No pride of office, certainly will keep me from taking any reasonable suggestion and following it for all it is worth. It is up to the people to help all they can.

Following Every Clew.

“And why should the public demand such great haste? It requires weeks and sometimes months before some of these mysteries can be cleared. Investigation of the Holland killing out at the ice house here, I recall, went on about six weeks before anything definite was found out. It is only in the magazines that solutions are forthcoming in a day.

“It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the body of Mary Phagan will be exhumed for a further examination.

The Coroner was informed to-day of another clew which he deems worthy of investigation, and in all probability will subpoena an important witness for the hearing on Monday.

“The new clew which we have may be a good one,” he said. “We are following every one we can find, of course. This one may solve the mystery; who knows?”

Newest Facts in Case.

The exact facts in the Phagan case as this edition of The Georgian goes to press can be stated as follows:

FIRST—The Coroner’s inquest is not yet ended. It has been adjourned until Monday afternoon next; and until it is ended the State is not likely to take hold of the case except in so far as Solicitor General Dorsey may deem it necessary to acquaint himself with facts that may aid him when the Coroner’s jury renders its verdict. After this is done the case is turned over to the Solicitor General, as the chief prosecuting officer of Fulton County.

SECOND—It is reported that a large number of witnesses—200—are to be subpoenaed by the Coroner’s jury, and that both Lee and Frank will testify.

THIRD—The functions of a Coroner’s jury consist of hearing preliminary testimony, and holding persons under suspicion for the Grand Jury, which is the legal body that finds indictments against those accused of crime. Investigation before the Grand Jury is on evidence and is much more complete than before the Coroner’s jury.

FOURTH—Solicitor – General Dorsey’s conference with Chief of Police Beavers and Chief of Detectives Lanford yesterday was not to express dissatisfaction with the police, but to acquaint himself more fully with facts not yet made public.

FIFTH—Officials of the jail declared to-day that visitors will not be allowed to see either Frank or Lee, but, of course, counsel will have free access to them.

SIXTH—The absurd report that State troops were to be called out, of course, has no foundation in facts. This rumor was published in some of the State papers and by an unimportant morning daily of limited circulation.

SEVENTH—The report that William J. Burns is to come to Atlanta is of doubtful origin. The last heard of Mr. Burns he was in Europe.

EIGHTH—Friends of Frank are coming forward in his defense and are making a vigorous defense for him. It is reported that M. Frank, an uncle, who is very wealthy, will employ the ablest legal talent to defend Frank.

In regard to the arrest of Leo Frank, Milton Klein has furnished the following:

“Leo Frank, the superintendent and general manager of one of Atlanta’s largest and most promising industries, spends two hours in his office on a holiday after generously relieving the watchman during these hours. His habits are regular and industrious, and his life while in Atlanta is perfectly blameless in every respect.

“The terrible crime committed in his plant calls forth the closest scrutiny of Mr. Frank’s relations with his 300 workmen and women. Only the highest words of praise and confidence in his character are heard on all sides.

“I have worked with Mr. Frank for years in various charitable organizations and have ever found him the most polished of gentlemen, with the kindest of heart and the broadest of sympathy. To such an extent it is recognized among his fellow lodgemen that we have honored him with the office of president, which is the highest rank in our organization.

Best Work in Factory.

“He is a liberal supporter of many worthy enterprises. But his greatest work has been among his own employees at his factory. The first to report in the morning and the last to leave at night, every day and holidays, he has labored to build up a factory that in spirit and efficiency is second to none south of the Mason and Dixon line.

“After the magnificent work he has done in his adopted home, shall we, without consideration, emphasize every bit of gossip which unjustly and groundlessly connects him with this awful tragedy? No one seeks more fervently to discover the real perpetrator of this atrocious crime than Mr. Frank.”

Miner Asks for Calmness.

Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner makes the following plea for calm consideration of the Phagan case:

“While a crime of a most revolting nature has been committed in our midst, and our people are naturally excited and incensed over the deplorable affair, there are things that we need to consider coolly and carefully.

“Every possible effort is being put forth by the officers and the public generally to apprehend the guilty party or parties. Nothing is being left undone, no clew is being overlooked that would lead to a solution of the mysterious tragedy.

“But this is not a time for us to become too excited or too hasty in our efforts to ferret out the criminal. Above all things, and especially at this time, it is absolutely necessary for us to keep perfectly cool, to work carefully and quietly, running down every possible clew with caution.

“I respectfully ask that the public be patient, refraining from criticism of the unceasing efforts on the part of the officers or private individuals who are working so generously and faithfully on the case. And I would as respectfully ask that the daily papers refrain from printing anything calculated to unduly inflame the public mind; and from using such headlines as are calculated to arouse undue indignation.

“And you may rest assured if faithful and persevering work counts for anything, justice will be done. I have known, during my several years of experience as an officer and in criminal cases, undue haste in matters of this kind, brought on by excitement and enthusiasm to produce a miscarriage of justice. But I have never known a cool and systematic investigation of a tragedy, backed up by an earnest public sentiment demanding the apprehension of the real perpetrator of a crime like this, to fail of attaining the desired end.”

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Atlanta Georgian, May 2nd 1913, “Dorsey Puts Own Sleuths Onto Phagan Slaying Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF) 

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