Frank Will Take Stand at Inquest

Frank Will Take Stand at InquestAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

Mrs. Mattie White Tells Detectives That on Afternoon of Killing She Saw Negro in Factory.

Leo M. Frank will probably be the first witness to take the stand in the Mary Phagan murder inquest to be resumed this morning at 9:30 o’clock in police headquarters. He will be examined thoroughly along lines which neither the chief of detectives, coroner nor solicitor general will disclose.

He was resting comfortably at midnight, and, according to reports from the Tower in which he is imprisoned, he is in fit condition to undergo the ordeal. In the first interrogation to which he was subjected, he was on the stand for a trifle more than six hours. It is not thought that the examination today will last that long.

Headquarters was given a surprise yesterday afternoon with the report brought back by Detectives Rosser and Haslett, who were sent early in the afternoon to interview Mrs. Mattie White, wife of Arthur White, the mechanic who was in the pencil factory during the time Mary Phagan entered the building to draw her pay envelope.

Saw Negro in Factory.

Mrs. White stated that she went to the plant to see her husband shortly before 1 o’clock, and that as she came downstairs a few minutes later, she noticed a stalwart, black negro, sitting on a box on the first floor only a few feet from the elevator. He was seated in the shadow of the staircase, and was almost out of view.

This is the first time she has told of seeing the negro. It also is the first time it has been revealed that a negro was in the building between the hours of 12 noon and 4 o’clock, the fatal afternoon. Mrs. White told the sleuths that she did not recollect the incident at first.

Her statement was written and placed on record at headquarters. She will be summoned to the inquest. Her residence is at 58 Bonnie Brae avenue, where she has resided several years.

“The negro was a big man,” she said to Haslett and Rosser, “and was apparently too well-dressed to be a workman. He was sitting on a box in the shadows of the stairway, and gazing intently at the elevator shafts. I thought nothing of his presence, and hurried on out of the building. I don’t know whether or not I will be able to identify him. I possibly could, though.”

Searching for Greek.

Detectives are searching for a young Greek, who is supposed to have disappeared the day the body was discovered. He was an attaché of the café adjoining the pencil factory, a popular establishment with girl employees of the plant, at which many of whom ate their lunches.

Chief Lanford stated that when city detectives, following clues they had obtained from girls of the factory, sought to interview him, they found him missing. Later, it was reported that he was in Anniston, Ala., in which city Pinkerton men are making a search. He was employed as a waiter at the café, and had been in America for a good many years. The officers will not give his name.

The theory, on which suspicion is directed toward the Greek, is that the girl was murdered on the outside of the factory building, probably in the alley way facing Madison avenue, and that her body was carried into the basement through the rear door which was broken open.

The bursting of the door would have been an easy matter, as the staple could have been taken out, the detectives say, with the fingers.

It is advanced, too, that the slayer was in love with his victim, and that the deed was inspired by insane jealousy.

Added energy was injected into the search for the missing Greek at dusk Wednesday, when W. T. Hunter, a youth living at 250 Grant street, came to police headquarters and told Chief Lanford a story of a scene he had witnessed at 3:30 o’clock on the Sunday morning the body was found.

Hunter told of the appearance of three Greeks in a club at Broad and Hunter streets at 8:30 o’clock the Sunday morning of the discovery. One of the trio, he said, carried a mysterious package under his arm, obviously containing clothing. All three, upon entering the club, went into the washroom, where they cleaned their faces and hands. Detectives have been detailed to look for the three Greeks answering Hunter’s descriptions.

Dorsey Talks With Lee.

Solicitor General Dorsey held a lengthy interview with Newt Lee in the Tower Wednesday afternoon. It was the first opportunity he had gained to talk with the suspect. He would not divulge the result nor tell of the lines along which the negro was quizzed. Immediately after leaving the jail, Mr. Dorsey hurried away in an automobile.

The negro watchman, Chief Lanford says, will also go on the stand today. It will be his second examination. He will be questioned more closely regarding his private interview held with him by Frank Tuesday, a week ago, when both were allowed to talk in the privacy of the negro’s cell.

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Atlanta Constitution, May 8th 1913, “Frank Will Take Stand at Inquest,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)