Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
Saturday, May 24th, 1913
Colonel Thomas B. Felder entered into an explicit and detailed denial to The Georgian of all the charges of attempted bribery contained in the affidavits signed by G. C. Febuary, secretary to Chief of Detectives Lanford, and A. S. Colyar, a private detective with spectacular career.
Colonel Felder declared the alleged dictograph record of conversation he is alleged to have had with Colyar and Febuary in Williams House No. 2 a “frame-up” and a fabrication.
The report that he had offered $1,000 for the Coleman affidavit in the Phagan case and affidavits said to indicate graft in the Police Department he branded as absolutely false.
The whole plot had been concocted, he said, to discredit himself and W. J. Burns and drive them from the Phagan case so the guilty person might be protected.
“Every move made by the police in the Phagan case has been for the protection of the real criminal,” said Colonel Felder. “The police have kept an innocent negro there in a cell for three weeks in the hope that they can crush a confession out of him and let the real culprit go free.
“Guilty Person Protected.”
“If the desire were not to protect the guilty person, why should they desire to eliminate Burns and myself? Burns has a reputation for landing every criminal he goes after. He has a reputation for being absolutely merciless in the manner he hunts down his man. It is as certain as anything can be in the detection of criminals that he will be successful, once he gets started on a case. He is known to be unpurchasable. Everybody knows that he could have accepted a million dollars at any time during the chase for the McNamara brothers if he had been willing to say that he had not been able to find the dynamiters.
“As for myself, my professional reputation, at least, is that if I have not done a case in which I was interested any good, I certainly have not done it any harm.
“So, I repeat, what other motive could they have in trying to drive Mr. Burns and myself from the Phagan case except to protect the real culprit?
“That so-called dictograph conversation was a frame-up and fabrication from start to finish. In a longer statement that I am preparing, I will show this conclusively. I will demonstrate it by the very conversation that is alleged to have been reproduced in the other room by the dictograph. I will show that things were written that never would have been said by persons in conversation.
“I will show its absolute absurdity with such clearness that no room will be left for doubt. It will be so plain that he who runs may read. It won’t require any detective to show that it is a frame-up, and one of the clumsiest and crudest that ever was attempted.
“That Coleman affidavit, in which the mother and stepfather of the murdered Mary Phagan are made to say that they never hired me or approved of me as an attorney to prosecute the Phagan slayer, was extorted, in my opinion. As a matter of fact, I never said I was employed by the Colemans. I announced that I had been engaged by residents of Bellwood who were friends of the bereaved family. It is true, however, that Mr. Coleman approved of my selection. I never offered $1,000 for the possession of this affidavit.
“Neither is it true that I went to Mayor Woodward and told him that there was lots of graft in the city, but that it would take a good deal of money to uncover it. I had only a brief conversation with the Mayor, and I told him at the time that I did not wish to undertake anything or become interested in anything that would take my time from the prosecution of the Phagan case. It was not understood that I was to probe into the city’s graft conditions.
Will Expose Colyar.
“Along with my detailed statement to-morrow I shall make public some of the startling incidents in the career of this man Colyar. I have know his history for years. What I have to say about him—and practically every statement I make will be supported by affidavits—will cause a grave doubt as to his credibility.
“I am acquainted with his movements when he went into Mexico. I know of the humiliation he was to his father, who was a well-known public man. I will tell of these things when I make my formal statement to-morrow.
“Colyar came to me and said that he had evidence of graft in the Police and Detective Departments. He said he knew that hush money was being paid the police authorities by the proprietors of disorderly houses.
“I said to him: ‘Don’t you know, Colyar, that nobody would believe a word you had to say? If you’ve got any papers that you think are worth anything, you can bring them to me and I’ll look them over.’ It is from these conversations that we had in my office that he has framed up this so-called dictograph conversation, adding the conversation that gives it the appearance of an attempt to bribe.
Burns Fought, He Says.
“It is nothing but a plot to get me out of the Phagan case, but I am certain of one thing, and that is that Burns and Tobie, if they are not circumvented by this gang, will have the guilt fixed upon the right person within a very short time after Burns arrives here. They will have to work against difficulties, for as soon as it became known that Burns was going to enter the care all of the witnesses were instructed not to talk to any of the Burns operatives, although they had been allowed to talk to the Pinkertons hired by the National Pencil Company, without reserve.”
Colonel Felder is bitter in his attitude toward Colyar and the people he represents, and declares that he will have them “shown up” within another 24 hours.
He was so harassed by the constant ringing of the telephone Friday night that, with Mrs. Felder, he left home shortly after 7 o’clock with the intention, he said, of hiding himself somewhere up town. He found a group of his friends at one of the clubs and he stayed there until shortly after 10 o’clock when he met Mrs. Felder, who had been witnessing a rehearsal at the Grand Theater.
“If they’re framing up on you, I want to tell you you’ve got my sympathy,” said one of his friends, heartily.
“Thank you, old man,” returned the Colonel, “but I don’t need any sympathy. I’ll have these fellows on the run so quick it’ll make their heads swim!”
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Atlanta Georgian, May 24th 1913, “Felder Charges Plot to Shield Slayer,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)