Employe of Lunch Stand Near Pencil Factory is Trailed to Alabama

Employe of Lunch Stand Near Pencil Factory isAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, May 7th, 1913

Detectives Figure Strangling Was a Typical Mediterranean Crime—Solicitor Dorsey Grills Watchman Lee in Effort to Get New Points.

A new and sensational interpretation was given the Phagan mystery Wednesday afternoon when it was revealed that Pinkerton detectives are trailing a Greek now missing who was employed in a restaurant near the National Pencil factory before the crime was committed.

The reasons that the city detectives give for the adoption of the new theory are:

The slaying of Mary Phagan was not a negro crime, as the only negro who has been suspected in the case, Newt Lee, would have fled from the scene.

The notes which were left with the evident intention of diverting suspicion from the actual criminal were too subtle for Lee to have framed.

Strangulation, the method by which Mary Phagan was killed, is not a negro method of killing.

But this method is typical of the Mediterranean countries.

Working along these new lines, the detectives are of the opinion that the crime was not committed inside the National Pencil Factory. They believe that the girl was attacked outside the factory and that her body was taken inside with the intention of hiding it ultimately in the furnace, although the body never reached there.

Girls Eat at Near-by Café.

It is not the supposition that it was the intention to burn it, as there were no fires under the boilers. The assailant only wanted to hide the body so that he might have time to make his escape.

Girls employed in the pencil factory are in the habit of getting many of their midday lunches at a little Greek restaurant near the factory building. It was the most natural thing to suppose that Mary Phagan, after getting her money Saturday afternoon, stopped in at the restaurant to get something to eat.

One of the important developments in the search for the slayer of Mary Phagan came Wednesday afternoon in the surprising information that the authorities ordered a second exhumation of the body to confirm the statement of an expert physician that the crime, which was taken for granted by all to have preceded the actual killing of the girl, was not accomplished.

One physician whose opinion has great weight in medical circles and who made a minute examination of the body, declared that he virtually was certain that the girl had not been outraged before she was killed and left in the basement of the National Pencil Factory.

Dr. J. W. Hurt, county physician, is understood to have said that he was not at all satisfied on this point.

The man under suspicion is said to have been employed at the restaurant. It is believed that Mary and the man became involved in a quarrel. The man was in love with Mary, the police argue, and in a rage of jealousy slew the girl, the killing probably taking place in an alleyway near the factory.

Took Body in Rear Door.

The theory holds that the man then gained entrance to the factory by the front door, went into the basement and forced the staple of the back door out. Then he went for the body of the girl, returning with it by the rear way.

Newt Lee’s testimony differed materially with that of the police in regard to the finding of the body. Lee said that he found it lying face up on the basement floor. The police declared that it was lying face downward, with the arms folded underneath.

This discrepancy is believed to be explained by the theory that as late as the hour of discovery the criminal was making efforts to hide the evidence of the crime and that he was interrupted when the alarm was given.

The police believe that the Greek still was in the basement when Lee made his gruesome discovery and that he was the one who disturbed the


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Position of the body before he made his escape out the rear door.

Trailed to Anniston.

The Pinnertons [sic] have trailed the Greek into Alabama and he is believed to be in Anniston, from where news of his arrest is expected hourly.

The detectives say that the new theory explains away all of the discrepancies which hitherto have puzzled those working on the case, except those of the hair found on one of the lathing machines on the second floor, where the struggle was supposed to have taken place. They are of the opinion, however, that too much weight may have been attached to these bits of evidence, and that the hair may have been that of some other girl and that the stains on the floor may not have been bloodstains.

It became evident that the State had taken up the trail of the Greek when Solicitor Dorsey, a Greek interpreter and a man said to be a Burns detective started out in an automobile Wednesday afternoon to gather evidence. The Solicitor would say nothing of the object of his trip, but in view of the most recent developments it immediately was surmised that the Solicitor had interested himself in the new phase of the case and was following down the clews on his own account.

The circumstances of the murder were such as to leave the killing without any understandable motive if this presupposed crime was not accomplished. For this reason the reports of the outrage were accepted by everyone as true, and the authorities themselves have been working on this theory.

Solicitor Would Clear Uncertainty.

If the examination on the second exhumation proves the contention of the expert physician, the detectives will have difficulty in fixing a motive for the murder.

Solicitor General Dorsey ordered that the body be exhumed a second time so that the opinion of the expert physician might be either positively established or disproved beyond a doubt. The conflicting theories which have arisen since the body was exhumed last Monday have cast a shadow of uncertainty over the investigation that the Solicitor was desirous of dispelling at once and for good.

The order for the second exhumation was given by Solicitor Dorsey, but it had not been made up to 2 o’clock on Wednesday.

Coroner Donehoo admitted that Dorsey’s order had been given, but said it had not been carried out. He would make no further statement.

The report published in an early edition of The Georgian that the body had been exhumed was made on statements by officials, and that it was for the purpose of making a microscopic examination of every wound on the body for finger prints and other clews.

It is undoubtedly the intention of the authorities to exhume the body again.

Dorsey Maintains Silence.

Very properly Solicitor Dorsey is not making public every move that the prosecution is engaged in, nor is he giving to the public such evidence as he is enabled to obtain.

It would seem probably that the exhumation will be made, if not on Wednesday, at least some other day soon; for the belief is growing that there still may be some clews that are worthy of further examination.

Parents Object to Exhumation.

Solicitor Dorsey instructed Coroner Donehoo to secure the permission of the girl’s parents before ordering the exhumation of the body, and Coroner Donehoo said Wednesday afternoon that the father of the dead girl, J. W. Coleman, was very much excited over the reports that the body had been exhumed Wednesday morning. The Coroner called on Mr. Coleman and assured him that the body had not been taken from its grave in Marietta.

Though none of the officials would make a statement to that effect, it is probable that the opposition which developed from the girl’s parents has caused the officials to abandon their plans to exhume the body, for the present, at least.

It was reported that the finger prints on the body were to be photographed and compared with the finger prints of persons under suspicion; which may, or may not have any basis in facts and might, or might not be of value. After the remains were discovered in the factory basement they were handled by several p[e]rsons—embalmers and others—and whether there are any finger prints now on the body is problematic.

It is said that a complete chart will be prepared by medical experts to be used at the trial, showing every wound and mark.

Notwithstanding these speculations as to the purpose of the exhumation, Solicitor Dorsey declared Wednesday forenoon that it was not for the purpose of obtaining a record of the fingerprints. One of the principal reasons for the action, he said, was to get a strand of the girl’s hair in order to compare it with the hair found on the lathing machine in the tipping department at the factory. It was at this point that the detectives discovered blood spots on the floor and other evidences of a struggle.

“I cannot talk in regard to the matter,” he said. “The body was exhumed, it is true, at my request. But to reveal further plans would be hurtful.”

Thinks She Didn’t Leave Factory.

The Solicitor is in entire accord with the theory that Mary Phagan never left the factory after she received her pay Saturday noon. He declared that if any search was being made for the man seen with a girl Saturday, April 26, by attaches of the Terminal Station, it was not being conducted under his direction.

The results of the chemical analysis in the laboratory of Dr. Harris in the State Capitol have not yet been made public. Dr. Harris would not admit Wednesday that traces of drugs had been found, bearing out the belief that the girl was drugged and rendered helpless before she was slain in the factory.

All of the remaining evidence in the case will be presented when the Coroner’s inquest resumes Thursday morning at 9:30 o’clock.

It is the purpose of Coroner Donehoo to limit testimony to the points that are regarded as essential, so that the hearing may be concluded by Thursday night.

Have Two Hundred Names.

The Coroner and the Solicitor General have the names of about 200 persons on whom they may call for testimony. These include girls and women employed at the pencil factory. It is unlikely, however, that more than a few of the girls will be placed on the witness stand, but will be held in readiness to testify as was the case last Monday afternoon when the roll-call room was filled with witnesses.

So far as the line of testimony can be anticipated from the information given out by the authorities, the most important will come from the physicians and chemists who have been at work on the mystery under the direction of Coroner Donehoo and Solicitor Dorsey.

Dr. H. F. Harris, director of the State Board of Health, will submit a report on his chemical analysis of the contents of Mary Phagan’s stomach. Dr. Harris also made a careful examination of the wounds and bruises on the body and will report on this to the jury.

Dr. J. W. Hurt, county physician, made the first examination of the girl’s body after it was found in the basement of the factory. He also was present when it was exhumed from its little grave in the Marietta cemetery and another examination made at the order of Solicitor General Dorsey. He will present the results of his observations to the jury some time during the hearing Thursday.

Dr. Smith to Be Quizzed.

Dr. Claude A. Smith, City Bacteriologist, has made a chemical examination of the bloodstains on a shirt found at Newt Lee’s home and of the pieces of wood chipped from the factory floor where the stains of blood were discovered, and will be questioned by Coroner Donehoo.

The recalling of Newt Lee also is regarded as an indication that the authorities expect the night watchman to tell something which he forgot or concealed in his previous examination.

The factory girls will tell of their acquaintance with Mary Phagan, of her companions and habits and of the conditions under which they have to work at the factory, so far as they have any relation to the mystery.

Bowen Released in Houston.

Accompanying mystifying new features of the hunt for the slayer was the news that Paul P. Bowen, held in Houston for the Atlanta authorities, had been released and relieved of all suspicion.

Bowen was employed with the Morrow Transfer Company in Atlanta as stenographer and shipping clerk, and later with the Southern Railway. He had many friends here and with them bore a good reputation.

His father and other relatives live in Newnan, Ga., and are among the best people of that part of the State. Chief of Police Davison, of Houston, was angered that his detective chief should have exceeded his authority in arresting Bowen, and promptly discharged him from authority.

By letters Bowen wrote from Texas and statements of friends it was proved conclusively that he could not have been connected with the Atlanta mystery and he was accordingly freed.

Dr. Claude A. Smith, city bacteriologist, said Wednesday that he was hurrying the examination of the blood stains on Newt Lee’s shirt and probably would submit a report to Coroner Donehoo late in the afternoon.

The shirt was found by detectives in a barrel in Lee’s home when a search was made a few days after the killing of the Phagan girl.

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Atlanta Georgian, May 7th 1913, “Employe of Lunch Stand Near Pencil Factory is Trailed to Alabama,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)