Girl in Red Dress May Furnish Clue to Phagan Mystery

Girl in Red Dress May Furnish Clue to Phagan Mystery

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

Atlanta Journal

Sunday May 4th, 1913

[The top part of this article is cut off including the headline and the sub-headings – Ed.]

A 17-year-old miss, [several words illegible] blonde and who weighs about [several words illegible] 140 pounds, and who was in [several words illegible] in Marietta last Wednesday afternoon wearing a dark red dress and a [1 word illegible] leghorn hat, may furnish the vital clue in the mystery of the murder of Mary Phagan.

Who is she?

Where does she live?

Is it true that she was the last friend of Mary Phagan’s to see the murdered girl alive on Saturday afternoon, April 26?

She alone can answer. It is but a matter of hours until her identity is revealed.

If she knows what she is said to know, she can tell the officers of the law something that they are very anxious to learn.

Last Wednesday afternoon Miss Beulah Daniel, daughter of G. T. Daniel, of Mableton, Ga., was in a store in Marietta, making some purchases. She is quoted as saying that near her stood two girls, who also were making some purchases and who were talking as they looked over the goods offered to them. One of them was the girl already described above. Miss Daniel furnishes that description. She does not describe the girl’s companion. They were discussing the murder of Mary Phagan in the National Pencil factory in Atlanta.


The girl in the red dress related in Miss Daniel’s hearing. It is said, a story that may prove the missing link of evidence that the detectives are seeking in their efforts to solve the mystery.

She said that she went to the pencil factory with Mary Phagan last Saturday afternoon when Mary called there to get her pay; that she waited at the street door of the factory; that half an hour passed without Mary returning, and she was beginning to grow impatient, when a man came to the door and told her she needn’t wait any longer, for Mary had some work to do.

If the report is true, and the girl in the red dress did say what she is quoted here as saying, she can probably describe the man who came to the door of the pencil factory and told her that she needn’t wait.

There may be the vital clue.

Here is how the trail of the clue was lost:

Miss Daniel, it is said, did not realize the import of what she had overheard. She returned to her home in Mableton later in the afternoon and repeated to her father what she had heard.

“That’s exactly the evidence the police are looking,” her father is said to have exclaimed. “Here is The Journal, this afternoon, asking the world ‘Who saw Mary Phagan last?’ We’ve got to find that girl!”

But their search, determined and interested though it was, resulted fruitlessly—except for one slight lead to further information. Someone in the store had heard the girl in the red dress say she was going to catch the next car — leaving Marietta about 3 o’clock. No one in the store who had seen them knew her or her companion.

Atlanta detectives were informed, and it is known that they were at work upon the clue Friday and Saturday morning in Marietta. Their efforts were in vain, however—but they spread a net of inquiry which today is reaching out to cover the entire territory between Marietta and Atlanta—all to locate the girl who wore the red dress.

Somewhere in that 19-mile stretch of country, or perhaps within the 24 square miles of Atlanta’s own area, she will be found.

If she, or anyone who knows her and can tell where she is to be found, reads this, let her or the acquaintance do one of two things—call The Journal by telephone, or call the chief of detectives in Atlanta. On Sunday The Journal’s representatives can be reached at Ivy 1917-J. On week days the number is Main 2000. The chief of detectives number is Main 24.


The coroner’s jury probing the mystery of the murder of Mary Phagan, whose mutilated body was found in the basement of the National Pencil company’s factory, last Sunday morning, will resume its inquest at police headquarters tomorrow afternoon at 2 o’clock.

Nearly 200 witnesses, many of whom are girl employees of the pencil company, have been subpoenaed and in addition to these it is expected that Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, and Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the factory, who are now in the Fulton tower, will take the stand.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, who is carrying on a special investigation of the mystery, and E. A. Stephens, assistant solicitor general, had a conference yesterday afternoon, with Coroner Paul Donehoo, Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford, and Chief of police James L. Beavers. The conference lasted from 3 o’clock in the afternoon until nearly 7 o’clock. The two chiefs and the coroner went over all the details of the evidence secured so far with the solicitor general and his assistant.


It is expected that the first witness who will take the stand when the inquest is resumed tomorrow afternoon will be Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, who was one of the chief witnesses when the inquest was begun Wednesday. It is expected that Lee will give some testimony as to a conversation he is alleged to have had with L. M. Frank at police headquarters Wednesday night.

It is also expected that Mr. Frank will be called to the stand or that the stenographic statement he made soon after his arrest will be introduced as evidence.

It is understood that the coroner’s jury will try to draw from the employees of the pencil factory evidence as to past relations between certain officials of the company and the employees.

Dr. J. W. Hurt, county physician who examined the body of the Phagan child, will be a witness.


J. L. Watkins, who testified on Wednesday that he saw Mary Phagan Saturday afternoon before the murder, will be recalled to say that he had mistaken Miss Daisy Jones for the Phagan child. E. L. Sentell, who testified that he saw Mary Phagan about midnight Saturday, will again take the stand to say that he has found he was mistaken.

Rumors were current last night that detectives have discovered attempts to influence the testimony of witnesses but none of these has been verified.


It was stated at police headquarters last night that as far as could be seen at present, no further arrests in the case are contemplated.

In all probability startling evidence will be brought out when the inquest is resumed, but detectives have given no intimation as to what this will be.

A big corps of detectives have been working unceasingly on the case since the inquest was postponed from Thursday afternoon until Monday, and with the aid of the solicitor general it is suspected that by tomorrow several new phases will be brought out.

The new Fulton country grand jury will be empanelled tomorrow and it is probable that, in event the coroner’s probe is finished Monday night, the cases will be taken up by the jury Tuesday.

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Atlanta Journal, May 4th 1913, “Girl in Red Dress May Furnish Clue to Phagan Mystery,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)