Great Crowd at Phagan Inquest

A new photograph of Mary Phagan

A new photograph of Mary Phagan

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


Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday April 30th, 1913

Inquest Into Slaying of Factory Girl Begins, and Flood of New Light Is Expected To Be Thrown on the Tragedy—Lee Maintains His Story.

The Phagan inquest began to-day at police headquarters. It seemed likely when this edition of The Georgian went to press that a flood of light would be thrown on the murder mystery before the day was over.

Notwithstanding what the police said yesterday—that the mystery had been solved—it does not appear at this time as though it had been solved at all. Various statements have been made by the police officials, that so far have not been borne out by actual facts.

Chief of Detectives Lanford seems to think that there is more evidence against the night watchman, Lee, than any other person, although new mystery is added to this phase of the case with the announcement that other arrests would be made to-day.

Frank is still held by the police.

Every effort to break Lee down and make him confess has failed so far.

Handwriting experts declare that Lee is the author of the mysterious letters that were found.

The bloody stained shirt that belonged to Lee is one of the most important pieces of evidence yet discovered. There has been some doubt expressed as to whether this garment really belonged to Lee.

The inquest at 9 o’clock at the police station. The witnesses and jurors were summoned to meet there instead of at Bloomfield’s undertaking establishment at the request of Chief of Detectives Lanford.

Many persons, thinking that the original plan would be carried out, congregated in excited and curious groups outside the Bloomfield building. When the news was spread that a change had been made there was a rush for the police station.

Coroner Donehoo had on hand practically every witness who is known to have any knowledge of Mary Phagan, of the persons on whom suspicion has been cast or of the circumstances which might have been connected with her presence in the National Pencil Factory and her foul murder.

L. J. Dewberry, of 302 Cooper Street, came to the inquest with the marks of an exciting experience in a fire early this morning upon him.

Dewberry was at the home of his brother-in-law, F. J. Coll, last night. Early this morning the building took fire and Dewberry escaped by the narrowest of margins. He was able to save his clothes and watch, but left his wallet in the flames. The remainder of the occupants did not save their clothes.

Excitement was high when the taking of testimony, but there were no signs of disorder nor of a demonstration against any of the prisoners.

Light will be thrown on the reason for the detention of Leo Frank in the police station all of yesterday afternoon and last night with the detectives insisting that he was not under actual arrest.

The detectives have been reluctant to say anything of the results of the severe grillings they have given both Lee and Frank. They will tell of these to-day when the Coroner’s jury sits and decides who shall be held for an investigation by the Grand Jury.

The detectives are not satisfied with the centering of the damaging evidence on Lee. They are working this morning on new clews which may connect others with the crime.

Great Crowd at Phagan Inquest 2

It is almost as certain that two of the prisoners who have been held in custody since the round-up of suspects began will be released to-day, as it is that the negro Lee will be held.

The men who are practically assured of their freedom are Arthur Mullinax, former conductor, and J. M. Gantt, employed at the National Pencil Factory until three weeks ago.

The detectives have been able to fix no strong evidence upon them. So weak was the case against them that they were entirely ignored by the detectives yesterday. They were not “sweated.” They were not even questioned. They simply were left in their cells to themselves, visitors being denied them for the most part. Late in the afternoon Gantt was delivered over into the charge of the Sheriff.

Practically every witness who has been able to throw any


light on Atlanta’s gripping crime mystery has been summoned to appear before the jury to-day. A few will be only briefly questioned, but others whose knowledge of some of the phases of the mystery is believed to be important will be subjected to a more searching examination.

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Atlanta Georgian, April 30th 1913, “Great Crowd at Phagan Inquest,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)