Girl and His Landlady Defend Mullinax

Girl and His Landlady Defend Mullinax

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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, April 28th, 1913

Declaring her belief in the absolute innocence of her sweetheart, Arthur Mullinax, in the murder of Mary Phagan, pretty 16-year-old Pearl Robinson made a pathetic figure as she appeared before Chief of Detectives Lanford this afternoon and accounted for the whereabouts of Mullinax Saturday night up until about 10:30 o’clock.

With Miss Robinson were Mrs. Emma Rutherford, the landlady of Mullinax, and her two sons, Thomas and James, who took up the moves of Mullinax from the time he left Miss Robinson until the next morning, establishing what appears to be a complete alibi. In order to establish the alibi Mrs. Rutherford had to contradict entirely a statement she made last night to the police in which she had said that she knew nothing of where Mullinax was from noon Saturday until Sunday morning.

Call Mullinax “Good Boy.”

“Arthur is a good boy,” said his loyal little sweetheart.

“I know he would do nothing bad. He was too good and true. He was with me Saturday night from 8 o’clock until nearly 11 o’clock. We went to the Bijou theater together and left before it was over. We got home about 10:30 o’clock.

“Arthur stayed for ten or fifteen minutes, talking to me, and then he started for his rooming house, which is only a short distance from where I live.

“I stayed on the porch a few moments and I could hear him whistling as he went down the street and turned into Poplar Street, where he lives. When the whistle died out, I judged that he had reached home.

“I have known Arthur for about five months and have gone around to different places with him. He always has been kind and good, and a perfect gentleman. I never heard him mention the name of the Phagan girl, except the time he was in an amateur entertainment with her.

“I know he couldn’t have committed the crime about which he has been questioned.”

Landlady Changes Statement.

Veering directly from her former statements and, in conjunction with Miss Robinson, establishing an apparently unshakable alibi for Mullinax, Mrs. Rutherford told the police detectives that Mullinax had come to her home, 60 Poplar Street, where he roomed, Saturday night shortly before 11 o’clock. She said that she was asleep at the time, but that her 15-year-old daughter heard Mullinax come in and saw him leave $1 for a payment on come clothes he was purchasing.

He went to his room and a few minutes later her son, James Rutherford, came in and found him asleep in the bed which they both occupied, according to Mrs. Rutherford.

Thomas Rutherford, another son, went to Mullinax’s coat about 11:30 o’clock to get a cigarette. Mullinax was asleep, he said, and he was still asleep at 5 o’clock in the morning, according to James.

Mrs. Rutherford said that her excitement at the presence of the detectives was responsible for her other statement in which she declared she had seen nothing of Mullinax from noon Saturday until Sunday morning.

“I was so confused that I didn’t know what I was talking about,” she said. In her first statement to the police she said that Mullinax paid her the $1 Saturday noon and left the house. From this time until Sunday morning, she said, she knew nothing of his whereabouts.

Bed Found in Factory Wall.

Another important discovery was made this morning by detectives who continued their search of the basement of the National Pencil Company’s building on Forsyth Street.

Built into the wall on one side of the basement, the police found a secret compartment, in which was a cot, improvised from old boards and a blanket. The footprints of a woman, found near the cot, is evidence that some woman had been in the small room recently. There were also signs of a struggle, the earth in front of the cot being disturbed. Several large footprints, presumably those of a man, were found near the cot.

The coroner’s jury was shown this room when it made an investigation of the plant this morning.

Based on the finding of the cot in the secret room, the police have evolved a theory that the room has been used as a rendezvous, and that the negro janitor, Newt Lee, knew of any permitted its use.

Employees Severely Quizzed.

J. A. White, 59 Bonnie Brae Avenue, and Harry Denham, 660 East Fair Street, were put through a severe quiz to-day by the police detectives in an effort to find out if they had any knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the murder.

Both are employees of the pencil company and they were the only workmen in the building Saturday, so far as is known. The others were off because of Memorial Day.

They said they were working on the fourth floor from about 9 o’clock in the morning until about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but that they saw no girls about the factory while they were there.

The police are investigating the statement of White, who said he had heard one of the girl employees say that the front doors of the building were seen open at 8:30 o’clock Saturday night. Newt Lee, the negro watchman, who is supposed to keep the doors barred and locked, will be asked to explain this if it is true.

They said they had talked with Leo Frank, the superintendent, about 1 o’clock in the afternoon and that he had told them to go at 3 o’clcok.

Man Forcing Girl Along.

Charles Hall, of 25 White Oak Street, a chauffeur for the sanitary department, believes that he saw the girl being led by a man toward the pencil factory at about 12 o’clock Saturday night.

He said to-day that he drove his brother and a friend to Alabama and Forsyth Streets at midnight, where they took an East Point street car. He went into a Greek fruit stand nearby and when he came out he was attracted by the sight of a man apparently having trouble in forcing the girl to accompany him.

Hall declares that he would know the man again if he saw him, and will go to headquarters to look at Gant this afternoon.

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Atlanta Georgian, April 28th 1913, “Girl and His Landlady Defend Mullinax,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)