In Loop of Death Dorsey May Have Clue to Murderer

In Loop of Death Dorsey May Have

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

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 17th, 1913

Noose Found Knotted Around Neck of Mary Phagan Being Carefully Examined by Officers.


Fund Started by The Constitution for Purpose of Bringing Noted Detective to Atlanta Has Reached $1,500.

In the noose found knotted around the throat of Mary Phagan’s lifeless body, Solicitor Dorsey and headquarters detectives aver they possess a valuable clue to the girl’s murderer.

It is being inspected by experts, who also are examining specimens of cord picked up here and there in the factory building in which the child was slain. Expecting to find a knot which compares with that which was used to strangle the victim, detectives are scouring every portion of the plant’s premises.

The knot in the wrapping cord is looped, sailor-fashion, in an inextricable knot. No novice, the sleuths say, could form it so well. When the body was discovered, the noose fitted so tightly around the throat that it had formed a purple trench-like scar in the flesh.

Knot Tied by Professional.

The solicitor and detectives hope to follow up the clue by comparing the death loop with specimens found in the pencil factory. But few amateurs, it is said, outside of professionals in stage craft and aboard ship, are expert enough to tie such an intricate knot as the one with which Mary Phagan was strangled.

The chief of the W. J. Burns criminal department of investigation, the right-hand man of the famous sleuth, has arrived in Atlanta and is making an investigation of the Mary Phagan mystery preparatory to the arrival of the noted sleuth. He is stopping at a downtown hotel and spent Friday in looking over the situation.

Colonel Thomas B. Felder stated to a Constitution reporter last night that the assignment of his most efficient agent to the Phagan mystery is characteristic of the interest Detective Burns is taking in the local case. Burns has been given a description of the murder and its salient points by Colonel Felder and has become enthused over the prospect of solving it.

Will Catch Guilty Man.

“We will catch the guilty man,” declared Mr. Felder last night, “and we won’t be long about it. I am confident of success. Mary Phagan’s murder will be cleared in less than a month.”

More than $1,500 was raised Friday for the Burns’ employment fund. A large number of influential businessmen sent checks during the day, while many assured Mr. Felder that they would subscribe immediately. Those promoting the movement anticipate raising the sum within the next few days.

Burns will come shortly after June 1, on which date he arrives in New York from Europe. Colonel Thomas B. Felder said Friday that he was positive the great detective was coming.

The names of subscribers, according to Mr. Felder, will be withheld when such desire is expressed. In conjunction with The Constitution’s move, The Journal and The Georgian have contributed $100. Homer George, manager of the Atlanta theatre, sent a check for $10.

Must Get Own Information.

Solicitor Dorsey has announced that he will adopt the same attitude toward Detective Burns as he maintained toward the Pinkertons. He will gladly receive information and evidence, but will withhold all developments unearthed through his office.

“The office of solicitor general,” he said, “heartily welcomes Mr. Burns. We are delighted to have aid in arriving at the truth of the case no matter from which source it comes. However, Mr. Burns will have to get his information first hand so far as this office is concerned.

“We accept the statement without question that his employment is in entire good faith, but our attitude toward him is to be the same as our attitude toward the Pinkertons, namely that he will be expected to give and not to receive. The work being done by the city detectives is entirely satisfactory.”

The solicitor added that there were absolutely no new developments in Friday’s investigation. Detective John Black of police headquarters stated that the police had unearthed nothing new and that there were few prospects of developments in the near future.

Herbert Schiff Summoned.

Herbert G. Schiff, chief clerk of the National Pencil factory, has been summoned before the solicitor and had made stenographic statement. Also he was ordered to bring the plant’s books and papers to Mr. Dorsey’s office.

A number of witnesses were examined by Dorsey Friday. Last night another conference was held between him, members of his staff and detectives from headquarters. They were only arranging the evidence at hand, preparatory to its presentation before the grand jury, it was said.

One of the witnesses who testified before the solicitor Friday was M. B. Darley, assistant superintendent of the National Pencil factory, who has taken charge of Frank’s position of general superintendent during the latter’s imprisonment. Mr. Dorsey would not divulge the nature of Darley’s testimony.

Lowenstein Subscribes.

To add to the numerous donations to the Burns fund, William J. Lowenstein, a well-known Atlanta businessman, informed a reporter for The Constitution last night that he would subscribe $10.

“Like the entire business world of the city,” he said, “I am extremely anxious to apprehend the guilty party, whoever he may be. I believe Burns can do it. Let us get him anyhow. If he can not clear the mystery, it is beyond solution.”

Charley Jones Subscribes.

Charley Jones, the well-known proprietor of the [1 word illegible] saloon last night contributed through The Constitution [dollar amount illegible] for the Burns fund. He expressed confidence in the famous detective and declared his opinion that as result of Burns’ investigation, the mystery would be solved in an amazingly short time.

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Atlanta Constitution, May 17th 1913, “In Loop of Death Dorsey May Have Clue to Murderer,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)