Finger Print Expert Works With Dorsey to Solve Mystery

Finger Print Expert

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

Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, May 21st, 1913

P. A. Flak, of New York, visits Scene of Crime and Also Takes Finger Prints of Men in the Tower


He is Said to Be Convinced That Negro Is Innocent—Pinkertons Still Busy in Search for Additional Evidence

The employment by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey of one of the best known finger print experts in the world on the Phagan mystery was Wednesday’s principal development in the sensational case.

P. A. Flak, of New York City, noted criminologist, and a recognized expert on finger prints, was brought to Atlanta by the “Southeastern Banker” and introduced to Mr. Dorsey.

The expert and the prosecuting officer spent the entire day Wednesday in an effort to find the murderer of Mary Phagan through finger prints.

Together they visited the scene of the crime, and also the jail, where they are said to have secured the finger prints of Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the pencil factory, and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, the two men held by the coroner’s jury.

Finger prints, which may lead to the conviction of the murderer were found on the notes left beside the dead girl’s body, and they were closely examined by Mr. Flak and the solicitor general.

Mr. Flak recently attended a meeting of the Georgia Banker’s association at Macon and consented at the request of representatives of the Southeastern Banker to come here and look into the Phagan mystery.

Solicitor General Dorsey and the finger print expert spent practically the entire morning Wednesday together.

With the solicitor general, the city detectives and the Pinkertons practically ready for the grand jury hearing, which will commence on Friday morning, the latest addition to the ranks of the Phagan probers, C. W. Tobie, of the Burns agency, is delving into the past of Mary Phagan and the seemingly unimportant incidents in her life just before her murder.

Tobie is conducting a vigorous probe of the case, and Attorney Thomas B. Felder, who is responsible for the employment of the Burns people, is well pleased with the progress of his work up to this time.


Mr. Tobie spent an hour interviewing Newt Lee, the negro suspect, at the Tower Tuesday, and according to Attorney Felder, the detective developed an important fact from the negro, which was not brought out when Lee was on the stand at the coroner’s inquest.

As the result of his interview with Lee and subsequent developments, it is authoritatively reported that the Burns man is convinced that Lee is eliminated from the case as a suspect, and Mr. Tobie is of the opinion that the negro made a truthful statement to him, telling all he knows of the tragedy.

According to Mr. Felder, the Burns interrogator will be able to establish beyond any doubt the theory that Mary Phagan met her death between noon and 1 o’clock on the Saturday of April 26.

The Burns man, according to Mr. Felder, has dev[e]loped several additional facts of importance in the case.

“There is no doubt about it, Mr. Tobie will deliver the goods,” said Mr. Felder.

Gordon Bailey, the negro elevator boy, who has been held at police headquarters since a few days after the tragedy at the National Pencil factory, where he worked, was “sweated” again by the detectives at headquarters Wednesday morning.

Like James Connolly [sic], the negro sweeper, Bailey has been held since the crime largely because it was thought that a continued incarceration might result in the negro giving information, which the detectives think he has probably withheld. The detectives, who examined the negro Wednesday, made no comment, but it is authoritatively stated that he threw no light on the tragedy.

Rumors that Mary Phagan was seen in the afternoon of April 26 have again occupied the attention of the city detectives during the past twenty-four hours. Mrs. A. A. Smith, of 198 West Peachtree street, declares that on May 5, she heard three women discussing the tragedy on Whitehall street, and one of them stated positively that she saw Mary Phagan about 4 o’clock on Memorial day.

The revival of the rumors of the “red dress girl” about Kennesaw have resulted in the detectives again going over the territory between Atlanta and that place in hopes of finding a woman, who is supposed to have gone to the pencil factory with Mary Phagan.


It was rumored Wednesday that there had been important developments in the Pinkerton investigation of the tragedy. When asked about this rumor, officials of the Pinkerton agency here, who have been actively in charge of the probe, stated that there are no developments of unusual importance.

“We have,” said one of the officials, “found evidence recently which we consider material to the case, but its nature will not be divulged as it is against the policy of Pinkertons to try their cases in the newspapers.”

The Pinkerton men have not dropped the probe by any means and several men are devoting practically their entire time to the Phagan.

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Atlanta Journal, May 21st 1913, “Finger Print Expert Works With Dorsey to Solve Mystery,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)