Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor

Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor

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

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Names of Witnesses Withheld by Dorsey to Prevent “Manufacturers of Public Opinion” Getting in Touch with Them—Satisfied with Progress.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey declared Saturday afternoon that he was very well satisfied with the progress made in the investigation of the Phagan murder mystery and made the significant remark that he would not reveal the names of new witnesses so that manufacturers of public opinion could not get to them.

The Solicitor held a conference with Dr. H. F. Harris, of the State Board of Health, who examined the girl’s body. Dr. Harris said he would rush his report in time for presentation to the Grand Jury when that body takes up the mystery next week. The Solicitor would not reveal just what the physician has learned so far.

The examination of the bloodstained shirt in the back yard of Newt Lee’s home was also continued, and the Solicitor was far from convinced that its significance had been rightly determined.

Mr. Dorsey worked all day Saturday on the case and announced that he would continue all of Sunday so that he could present his evidence to the Grand Jury as early as possible next week.

Confers With City Sleuths

A conference was held with the city detectives, who are working in co-operation with the State, but none of the details could be learned. Strict secrecy is being maintained regarding new developments.

Evidence “exclusive and valuable” in the Mary Phagan case has been obtained. So much the Solicitor said to-day, and no more, declaring details of the evidence would be revealed at the proper time.

The evidence is the result of work by private detectives engaged by the Solicitor, among them one whom he termed “the best detective in America,” when speaking of him Friday.

He mentioned the important evidence when he discussed the statement by Monteen Stover, the 14-year-old employee of the National Pencil Company, that is in direct contradiction to the testimony by Leo M. Frank, the suspected factory superintendent.

Other Evidence More Important.

The Solicitor was interested in the girl’s statement, but declared that the other evidence in his hands was far more important and tangible.

In opposition to the testimony of Leo M. Frank in the Mary Phagan inquest was the statement of the Stover girl. The evidence that she will bear is to the effect that she was in Frank’s office at 12:05 o’clock and a little later on the Saturday afternoon preceding the discovery of the slain girl’s body, and that she found it deserted.

According to Frank’s testimony, he was in his office from 12 o’clock until 12:25, when Lemmie Quinn, his foreman, came in. During that time, he said, Mary Phagan came in, about 12:05 o’clock, to receive her pay.

Monteen Stover is certain that she reached Frank’s office at exactly 12:05 o’clock. She has been retained as an important witness.

Remembers the Time.

“The minute I got to the office floor when I went up to get my pay,” she said, “I looked at the clock. I wanted to know if it was time to draw my money. I would have looked at it, anyhow, I suppose, as it is always customary for me to punch it the first thing upon entering the place to go to work.

“It was five minutes after 12. I was sure Mr. Frank would be in his office, so I stepped in. He wasn’t in the outer office, and I went into the inner office. He wasn’t there, either. I thought he might have been somewhere around the building, so I waited.

“The whole place was awfully quiet. It was scary. When he didn’t show up in a few minutes, I went to the door and looked around the machinery. He wasn’t there. I stayed until the clock hand was pointing exactly to 12:10. Then I went down

Dorsey Veils New Clews in Phagan Affair

Continued from Page 1.

stairs. I could not see nor hear no one.”

The testimony of Monteen Stover was obtained by detectives when they quizzed her the Saturday following the killing of Mary Phagan. The girl and her mother, Mrs. Homer Edmondson, of 171 South Forsyth Street, came to the factory to get the pay which the girl did not get the week before.

Stopped by Detectives.

In the office were detectives, eager to seize every available bit of information. They stopped Mrs. Edmondson and the girl, and were rewarded by Monteen’s statement that she had been in Frank’s office on the afternoon of the fatal day.

Monteen Stover said she did not know Mary Phagan, and probably had never seen her. She commended Frank as being popular with his employees and kind.

Another development within the last 24 hours has been the elimination of another clew. The “woman in red,” a mysterious figure reported to have been seen with Mary Phagan at the pencil factory, has been located. She is Mrs. Nancy Caldwell, of 10 Gray Street, an acquaintance of the dead girl. Examination revealed the fact, however, that she had not been with Mary Phagan in a year. The rumor of her association with the Phagan girl on the afternoon of the killing started in the mistaken statement of a girl at Mapleton.

Developed also evidence from a young woman whose name will not be revealed that the girl probably came to her death in the basement of the factory, and not in the upstairs lathe room. The following affidavit, subscribed to by a young woman who passed the factory about 4:30 o’clock Saturday afternoon, April 26, is in the possession of Solicitor Dorsey, given him by Chief of Detectives Lanford.

The testimony is that as she passed the Forsyth Street entrance to the factory she was attracted by the shrill screams of a girl, coming, apparently, from the basement of the building. The cries were loud and piercing, and she stopped, hearing three sharp screams in rapid succession. Then the factory became quiet again.

Neither Chief Lanford nor Solicitor Dorsey would reveal the name of the young woman informant nor anything regarding her identity, except that she lives on Haynes Street.

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Atlanta Georgian, May 10th 1913, “Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)