Girl Will Swear Office of Frank Deserted Between 12:05 and 12:10

by Archivist on May 10, 2016

Girl Will Swear Office of Frank Deserted

Monteen Stover. Little girl, former employee of National Pencil company, who swears Frank was not in office between 12:05 and 12:10 o’clock.

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

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Testimony Considered Important by Officers Because Frank at the Inquest Stated on Stand That He Did Not Leave Between Noon on Saturday and 12:25. When Quinn Came to See Him.

SHE WENT TO FACTORY TO GET PAY ENVELOPE – POSITIVE OF THE TIME

New Evidence, Just Submitted to Detective Department, Leads Chief Lanford to Believe That Mary Phagan Was Murdered in the Basement — Woman Says She Heard Screams on Saturday Afternoon.

A new and important witness has been found in the Mary Phagan murder mystery.

She is Monteen Stover, a girl of 14 years, a former employee of the pencil factory.

After already having attested to an affidavit now in possession of the solicitor general, she will testify before the grand jury that on the day of Mary Phagan’s disappearance, she entered the pencil plant at 12:05 o’clock in the afternoon and found the office deserted.

Also, that she remained five minutes, during which time no one appeared. The building seemed empty of human occupants, she declares, and no sounds came from any part. Expecting to have found the superintendent, she says she went through both the outer and inner offices in search of Frank.

Testimony Important Declare Police.

The police say that this is valuable evidence because of the testimony of Frank at the inquest to the effect that he remained in his office throughout the time between 12 noon and the time at which Quinn arrived, 35 minutes after 12. Also, they recount his statement that Mary Phagan entered the building at 12:05, the time the Stover girl says she arrived.

The latter states she went to draw her pay envelope. She is positive of the time at which she appeared in the office, because she looked at the timeclock on the wall fronting the entrance to the outer office. She was anxious, she says, to ascertain if it was time to draw the pay for which she had come.

In telling of the value of the Stover girl’s testimony, the police refer to Frank’s testimony, which was recorded as follows:

“What time did Miss Hall, the stenographer, leave the office Saturday, April 26?”

“About 12 noon. I recollect the time because I heard the noon whistles blow.”

“What did you do when she departed?”

“Started work on my books.”

“Were you alone?”

“So far as I knew.”

“Did anyone come in later?”

“Yes. Shortly after 12 o’clock, the little girl who was killed entered my office.”

When Mary Phagan Reached Office.

“Can’t you estimate the time?”

“Yes, it was about five minutes after twelve.”

“How did you fix the time?”

“It seemed that late.”

“What time do you say Lemmie Quinn arrived?”

“About 12:25 o’clock.”

“Were you out of the office from the time the noon whistles blew until Quinn came?”

“No.”

Monteen Stover was seen by a Constitution reporter last night at her home, 171 South Forsyth street. She is a daughter by first marriage of Mrs. Homer Edmondson, a boarding house keeper of that address.

She is now employed with a Whitehall street department store as salesgirl. The detectives discovered her last Saturday, when she came again to the pencil factory to draw the pay she had missed on the previous weekend.

As she and her mother entered the office, they were questioned by two officers who were stationed in the plant to procure whatever evidence they might find. Monteen told them of her visit on Memorial day, and gave them her name and address. Monday morning she was taken to the office of the solicitor general, where an affidavit was attested to.

Went to Factory To Get Her Pay.

“I went to the pencil factory that Saturday,” she told the reporter, “to draw my pay. The front door and the door leading to the second floor were unlocked. The whole place was awfully quiet, and kinder scary as I went up the steps.

“The minute I got to the office floor I looked at the clock to see if it was time to draw my pay. I would have looked at it, anyhow, I suppose, as it was always customary for me to punch it the first thing upon entering the place to go to work.

“It was five minutes after twelve. I was sure Mr. Frank would be in his office, so I stepped in. He wasn’t in the outer office, so I stepped into the inner one. He wasn’t there, either. I thought he might have been somewhere around the building, so I waited. When he didn’t show up in a few minutes, I went to the door and peered further down the floor among the machinery. I couldn’t see him there.

“I stayed until the clock hand was pointing exactly to ten minutes after twelve. Then I went downstairs. The building was quiet and I couldn’t hear a sound. I didn’t see anybody. As I walked from the building out to the street I saw four young boys standing close to the entrance. When I first came into the place they were standing on the corner of Forsyth and Hunter streets. They were only young boys.”

Detectives Wanted Testimony a Secret.

Mrs. Edmondson, Monteen’s mother, said to the reporter:

“I regret it exceedingly that Monteen will have to testify in this case, but if it will help clear up the mystery I will be mighty glad. Also, I’m grieved that it will get in the newspapers. The solicitor and detectives seemed extremely anxious that her testimony be kept secret.”

Monteen had worked at the pencil factory for a year. She spoke highly of the suspected superintendent, and said that he was as popular with his employees as any employer whom she had ever known. She did not know the Phagan girl, and said she had never even seen her.

After scouring the vicinity of Mapleton and Smyrna for miles around, the police have finally found the mysterious “girl in the red dress,” who was reported to have visited the pencil factory with Mary Phagan at the time of her disappearance. She is Mrs. Nancy Caldwell, of 10 Gray street, a former companion of the [new paragraph started; misprint]

How Report Started.

STARTED.

Lemmie Quinn, who told the coroner's jury that he was in the factory and talked to Frank after Mary Phagan is supposed to have left the building.

Lemmie Quinn, who told the coroner’s jury that he was in the factory and talked to Frank after Mary Phagan is supposed to have left the building. [Oddly enough, Detective John R. Black testified at the Coroner’s inquest that Quinn stated several times in his presence on Monday that he had not been to the factory on Saturday, April 26th. Leo M. Frank also seemed to totally forget the visit of Quinn until “reminded” of the incident. — Ed.]

The chief of police and two detectives, after an auto trip to Marietta, were informed she lived in Atlanta, and after examining her thoroughly, learned that she had not seen Mary Phagan since a year ago. The rumor of her association with Mary on Memorial day started in a store near Mapleton by a girl who is said to have asserted her knowledge of a girl who accompanied Mary to the pencil factory.

Before her marriage, Mrs. Caldwell was Miss Nancy Summerhill, who lived eight miles from Smyrna. She and the victim were intimate friends until 1912, when both moved to Atlanta. She was seen by a reporter for The Constitution late last night.

“No, I wasn’t with Mary that Saturday,” she said. “I wish I had been. I might be able to throw some light on the mystery. If I had gone with her to the factory building and had experienced all I am reported to have experienced, I’d have said so long ago.”

Says She Heard Screams.

Evidence that Mary Phagan was murdered in the pencil factory basement in which her lifeless form was found, was submitted by Chief Lanford to Solicitor Hugh Dorsey Friday in the shape of an affidavit attested by a young woman pedestrian who passed the building at 4:30 o’clock the Saturday of the crime.

She testifies to this effect:

That at 4:30 o’clock Saturday afternoon, April 26, as she passed the Forsyth street entrance to the National Pencil factory, she was attracted by shrill screams of a girl emanating, apparently, from the basement of the plant building. So tragic did the cries sound that she stopped. Three sharp, piercing screams came in succession, then died away as though having been stifled.

The deponent says that although her experience preyed depressingly on her mind, she did not consider it important enough to report to police authorities until she read of the Phagan murder. Her testimony has been in the hands of Chief Lanford since last Monday.

Believes Girl Was Alive.

This throws a new aspect on the mystery. The problem of the bloody hairs and stains found on the second floor confront the sleuths. It has heretofore been the accepted theory that the murder was committed in that part of the building. Chief Lanford, however, believes that the girl was still alive when her body was lowered to the cellar.

Neither Chief Lanford nor the solicitor would reveal the name of the woman. Her home is on Haynes street, but further than this they would tell nothing. This affidavit exists, though, the chief states positively, and will be delivered to the grand jury.

Many new developments arose Friday. With the case completely in its hands, the state busted itself throughout the day with examining 100 or more witnesses who were summoned to the office of Solicitor Dorsey.

Solicitor Dorsey announced Friday morning that he had obtained one of America’s best detectives to assist him. He would not disclose the name, saying that the new detective would work secretly on the case. It is rumored that Detective Burns has been employed to conduct the investigation.

Many Detectives on Trail.

The entire staff of detectives at police headquarters, numbering thirty, is still engaged in running down every available clue. The Pinkertons and other private agencies continue at work on the mystery. No pains or expense are being spared.

The grand jury, according to Solicitor Dorsey, is likely to begin its investigation any time after Friday. It is thought its action will be taken next Monday. Shelby Smith, chairman of the Fulton county commission, in speaking of the solicitor’s probe, said it would be through and exhaustive.

“No expense will be too great, no work too hard and exacting. We have instructed Solicitor Dorsey that he will be backed to the last ditch in the money to be spent. He has the sanction and support of the county board in every particular.”

Newt Lee was interviewed for the second time by Solicitor Dorsey Friday afternoon. Mr. Dorsey would not discuss the lines along which the negro was quizzed.

The grand jury which has been empanelled for the present term is composed of many prominent and influential residents and business men. It is as follows:

L. H. Beck, foreman; F. P. H. Akers, R. R. Nash, Charles Heinz, H. G. Hubbard, John D. Wing, R. A. Redding, V. H. Kriegshaber, R. F. Sams, A. D. Adair, S. C. Glass, J. G. Bell, Cephas M. Brown, George A. Gershon, A. L. Guthman, Walker Dunson, W. L. Peroy, C. A. Cowles, Sol Benjamin, R. P. Bell, H. M. Beutell, W. A. Bosser and Albert Roylson.

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, May 9th 1913, “Girl Will Swear Office of Frank Deserted Between 12:05 and 12:10,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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