Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
Friday, May 2nd, 1913
Grand Jury May Take Up Phagan Investigation Following Conference Between Dorsey, Beavers and Lanford.
MULLINAX AND GANTT ARE GIVEN FREEDOM
Coroner’s Jury Will Resume Hearing on Monday, Following the Subpoenaing of 200 Witnesses.
Thomas B. Felder, member of the firm of Felder, Anderson, Dillon & Whitman, has been engaged to assist the solicitor general in the prosecution of the murderer of Mary Phagan. He was retained yesterday by a committee of citizens from the Bellwood community, in which the dead girl lived. The counsel fund has been subscribed by residents.
Mr. Felder said last night to a reporter for The Constitution that within a day or so he would be abundantly supplied with convincing evidence. He already has started private investigation, he said, but would not divulge its form. He would not discuss the rumor that the Burns detective agency had been employed.
A special session of the Fulton grand jury is expected to be called to take action in the Mary Phagan mystery.
Evidence of this probability was first noted yesterday afternoon, when Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey summoned Police Chief Beavers and Detective Chief Lanford to his office in the Thrower building.
Following a short conference, in which the solicitor informed both chiefs that he was willing and ready to co-operate with them, they returned to headquarters. The will consult with Mr. Dorsey again shortly. It will then be determined whether or not the grand jury will take a hand in the case.
The process of eliminating suspects is now being put into operation by the police. J. M. Gantt and Arthur Mullinax, who were arrested immediately after the negro watchman had been taken into custody, were released late Thursday afternoon.
Thirty minutes before they were given freedom, however, Coroner Donehoo issued warrants demanding to the Tower Leo Frank, the factory superintendent, and Newt Lee, the night watchman. They are held under suspicion, and will be detained until further investigation by the coroner’s jury.
The inquest, which was postponed until 4:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon, was again adjourned. It will be resumed next Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock. It was at the request of Chief Beavers and Lanford that this action was taken.
More Than 200 Subpoenaed.
The largest number of witnesses ever summoned before an inquest in Georgian was subpoenaed by Coroner Donehoo Thursday morning, when he ordered every employee of the National Pencil factory to give testimony at the hearing. More than 200 men, women and girls came to police headquarters at 4 o’clock. They were [two words illegible] a body, after which all were excused until the Monday session.
Although it was though at first that they had disclosed a clue which would give them a new lead upon which to turn their investigation, the detectives say they attach but little significance to a letter addressed to “Mary Phagan,” which was brought to them yesterday morning by a street car conductor.
The letter was discovered a day or so ago on an English avenue trolley car, the one on which she rode to town shortly before noon of the day on which she disappeared. It was found under the seat on which she sat. The sleuths would not divulge its contents. It was from a friend, was all the information they would give.
Police headquarters was not surprised when the coroner ordered Frank and the negro to jail. A large crowd had thronged the place since dawn. It had grown to tremendous proportions when the detaining warrants were issued. They were typewritten in Chief Beavers’ office, and are as follows, excepting the changes of name for each individual writ.
“To the Jailer of Fulton County.
“You are hereby required to take into custody the person of (L. M. Frank, Newt Lee), suspected of the murder of Mary Phagan, and to retain the said (L. M. Frank, Newt Lee), in your custody pending the further investigation of the death of the said Mary Phagan, to be held by the coroner of said county.
“Herein fall not.
“(Signed) PAUL DONEHOO.
“Given under my hand and official signature, this the first day of May, 1913.”
Dorsey Explains Action.
“My only reason for calling Chief Beavers and Chief of Detectives Lanford into conference this morning was to ascertain what progress they had made in the Phagan case, and to see if I could assist them in any way. The idea that I brought them to my office to reprimand them for the lack of progress in the matter is absurd. I have no authority to take such an action.”
The foregoing statement was made by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, immediately after a conference held in his private office behind locked doors, between him and the authorities, yesterday.
Although Mr. Dorsey did not confirm a rumor to the effect that the conference will result in the state taking the case in its own hand, should not immediate and telling results be shown by the police department in the case, the report was given added credence because of the renewed activity that has been shown in the investigation.
A short while after the conference the sixth arrest in the case was made. James Connolly [sic], a negro sweeper, employed at the factory, was taken into custody. His arrest came as the direct result of detectives learning that he had been washing clothes at the factory.
The sweeper’s explanation of this was satisfactory; however, little importance is attached to the affair. He declared that he had been summoned to appear at the inquest, and that he had been obliged to wash the shirt, as it was soiled and he had no clean one to wear.
Officials Called To Conference.
Relative to the conference with Solicitor Dorsey, Chief Beavers would have nothing to say last night. It has been his inexorable attitude throughout the entire investigation to say nothing. He will give no information whatever, and it is impossible to ascertain through him what progress the police have made.
Chief Lanford, however, told a reporter for The Constitution that he and the police chief had been called to the solicitor general’s office to give Dorsey their views of the situation so that he could gain an insight into the progress that had thus far been made.
“He also stated his opinion,” the detective chief said, “that the newspapers were publishing too much of the sensational case, and that, by some means or other, they were daily gaining information that was injurious to the work of the investigation.
“He seemed pleased with our progress. He denied the circulated report that he had denounced our methods and was disappointed in the lack of evidence we had gathered. We were assured of the support and co-operation of his office and of the grand jury. A special session, he said, would be called if necessary.”
The chief also told that he and Chief Beavers would soon hold another conference with the solicitor, and that it would then be determined whether or not the grand jury should take action in the investigation.
It requires [two words illegible] for the two prisoners to be transferred from police headquarters to the Tower.
Transferred in Anton.
There they were put in automobiles, Beavers in charge of one and Black and Rosser in charge of the other. The van was made to the Tower in less than thirty seconds.
Frank who was first to arrive, darted through the jail door. The negro walked across the sidewalk, stopping before the barred doorway and [one word illegible] for the newspaper camera [one word illegible].
Frank and the watchman signed [two words illegible] papers and were [two words illegible] the jail proper.
They had hardly been assigned to [one word illegible] new prison, when Gantt and Mullinax were released from headquarters. All day, the mother and sister of the latter haunted the station. There was a cry of joy when he emerged from his cell. The mother threw her arms about his neck and wept hysterically.
Both Gantt and Mullinax left immediately for uptown. They will [one word illegible] in their respective homes.
Coroner Donehoo said late in the afternoon that his plan for summoning the employees of the pencil factory was to obtain possible evidence having direct bearing on the murder. It was not to ascertain conditions in the factory, as was rumored, or to procure testimony of Frank’s character. It was to learn something definite of Mary Phagan as a working girl at the plant where she had been employed for more than one year.
The concern was shut down at 3 o’clock. It will be closed again next Monday. In their finest frocks and hats, the girls of the plant came to headquarters. The immense crowd of employees flooded the building. There were not seats enough to provide for them in the court room, and they overflowed to the street. There, they mingled with the crowd of curious that had flocked to the scene.
Frank Given High Praise.
In regard to the arrest of Leo Frank in connection with the investigation of the Phagan murder, Milton Klein has furnished The Constitution with the following statement:
“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 200 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 lodge men that we have honored him with the office of president, which is the highest rank in our organization. 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’s 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.”
Deputy Asks for Calm.
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 clue 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 fall of attaining the desired end.”
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