Tuesday, April 29th, 1913
A sensational arrest will be made in the Mary Phagan murder mystery within a few hours.
It will be based on the firm theory of the police and detectives that the strangled girl was never outside the factory of the National Pencil Company from the time she went in there for her pay Saturday noon until her dead and mutilated body was taken to the morgue early Sunday morning.
The detectives do not believe that Arthur Mullinax is guilty of the murder.
They do not believe that J. M. Gantt is guilty of the murder.
They do not place any dependence on the identifications of Gantt and Mullinax made by various persons before Chief of Detectives Lanford.
They are confident that the author of the terrible deed was a person who is not under arrest at the present time. They know his name. They have talked with him. They have his story of what he declares is all he knows of the happenings Saturday night in the building of tragedy on Forsyth Street.
But they are not satisfied with his tale. It is known that they will have him behind the bars within a few hours.
It is known that the signs of weakening on the part of Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, have had a great deal to do with the pending sensational arrest. The negro’s attitude all along has led to the belief that he was shielding some one.
One moment he has almost admitted that he is protecting a man who has befriended him and helped him, and an instant later he has suddenly gone back into silence with the solution of the mystery trembling on his very lips.
In the still hours of this morning, unknown to anyone save the authorities, Newt Lee was put through a searching, grilling “third degree” that left him weeping and nerveless.
Before the hangers-on had congregated about the police station and the horde of informers, witnesses and merely curious had swept-down upon the detective force, Detective John Black quietly made his way to the police station and into the cell of the bowed and almost broken negro.
It was hardly 4 o’clock this morning when Lee was startled to see the detective’s form before his cell. Black walked in and sat down. From that time for two pitiless hours the detective plied the negro with questions.
A great fear appeared on the negro’s heart. Not that he feared for himself or because of his own guilt, but that he was frightened at the terrors of the law which slowly were forcing him to open his lips and reveal the man who was hiding behind him.
Black tried to remove the terrors that oppressed the black man.
“We know you did not do the murder,” the negro repeatedly was assured. “We know you are guiltless of the whole affair. But we know that you know exactly who did it and that you are protecting that person.”
Just as Lee was nodding his head in assent, he suddenly would straighten up in an affrighted manner and declare:
“No, no, boss, I don’t know nothing about it. I don’t know nothing about it, sah. Before God, I don’t.”
Then Black would begin his long line of questioning all over again and would have the negro just on the verge of the solution of the whole mystery when the great fear would sweep over him again and he would become silent.
What is regarded as a most important and significant circumstance in bearing out the newly developed theory that the girl never left the factory after she went in there to get her pay envelope Saturday noon is the fact that Lee will not swear that he saw her leave the building.
The negro did not see her go out.
No reliable testimony has been produced that she was seen from the time she went in the building at noon, although she most certainly would have been seen had she followed out her announced intention of seeing the Memorial Day parade.
Leo Frank, superintendent of the factory, admits that he himself does not know positively of the girl’s leaving the building.
Captain (1 word missing] the police department, most strongly urged [2 words missing] Beavers to-day the advisability of taking So- [several words missing] into custody for Frank’s own protection. He [several words missing] heard serious and well-defined threats against
Factory Employe’s Arrest As Slayer Near, As Result of ‘Sweating’ Watchman
Continued from page One.
the executive head of the National Pencil Company’s factory, and considered that the action was warranted from the standpoint of safety if for no other reason.
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Atlanta Georgian, April 29th 1913, “Factory Employe May Be Taken Any Moment,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)