Indictment of Felder and Fain Asked

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

The Atlanta Georgian

June 10, 1913

Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stephens virtually admitted this afternoon that Police Commissioner W. P. Fain had been indicted. There was a division of the vote, it was said, but the majority was for indictment.

With blank bills of indictment against Attorney Thomas B. Felder and Police Commissioner W. P. Fain under consideration, the vice probe by the Fulton County Grand Jury took a sensational turn Tuesday.

Two witnesses told of disorder and rowdyism in a house at 40 East Harris Street, in which the Police Commissioner was said to have been involved.

The disorder, they said, occurred first just after the Christmas holidays, and when a call officer went to investigate, the Police Commissioner escaped arrest by getting in telephone communication with the department.

The witnesses said a reputation of the orgies occurred in April, with Commissioner Fain as a participant, and that although the disorder was of an aggravated form, the Commissioner again escaped arrest.

Felder Witness Missing.

When the Grand Jury began consideration of the charge against Colonel Felder for carrying concealed weapons, one witness gave the attorney a clean bill of health and the other and most important one could not be found.

Circumstances on which the bill of indictment was predicated transpired about a week ago in the Grand Jury waiting room, when hot words passed between Colonel Felder and Newport Lanford, chief of detectives.

Trouble between the attorney and the detective was averted by the timely interference of friends. Later the charge was advanced that Colonel Felder attempted to draw a weapon, and this morning the Grand Jury began consideration of a blanket indictment to that effect.

Dr. Horace Grant, who stepped between Felder and Lanford and ended the threatened fray, was sought as the principal witness, but when the Grand Jury wanted him to-day he was not there. A most rigid search of all places where he could likely be found proved fruitless.

Says He Saw No Weapon.

Henry Bellingrath, the one witness examined by the Grand Jury in the Felder case, said he saw no weapon either before, during or after the altercation between Felder and Lanford. He then was asked if some of Colonel Felder’s friends had not retired with him to an ante room and relieved him of a pistol, and he replied in the negative.

Since Dr. Horace Grant can not be found, and the only other witness gives Colonel Felder a clean bill, it looks as if no indictment against the attorney will be returned.

The Grand Jury then plunged into the vice problem. Carl Hutcheson, a legal attache of Colonel Felder’s office, who attacked the competency of Chief of Police Beavers, was the first witness. He was first questioned about the house at 95 Spring Street.

The Grand Jury was trying to obtain new evidence in the case Mrs. N. P. Powell, who was given a four months’ sentence. Police Chief Beavers charged the courts for many months blocked his closing of the place.

No Specific Accusation.

It also was understood that Hutcheson gave no evidence against any particular party, but that he gave much general information and furnished the Grand Jury a list of witnesses who, he said, could aid in making cases against specific individuals.

The two witnesses testifying in the case of Police Commissioner Fain were J. A. Skaggs, an agent of the Southern Express Company, and Allen Young, a real estate man. Both told similar stories to the Grand Jury.

Just after the Christmas holidays Skaggs and Young said, they complained to the Police Commission of a fight and general disorder in the house at 40 East Harris Street, charging Police Commissioner Fain with being a principal. While the disorder was in progress, they testified,[…]

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Police Commissioner Accused of Misdemeanor for Alleged Occurence in Resort.

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Call Officer W. F. Anderson went to the Harris Street address, but Commissioner Fain telephoned to the police station and fixed matters up, so that no arrest followed.

Assistant Chief E. L. Jett and Police Captain W. M. Mayo were on the desk. With these facts before them, so Skaggs and Young told the Grand Jury, the Police Commissioners promised such things would not happen again if they would refrain from making a case against Fain.

In April, however, Skaggs and Young testified to-day, disorder in a more aggravated form occurred at the same address, with Fain as a principal, and a police call officer was sent to investigate. He found Fain and a woman alone in the house, the woman being drunk and badly beaten up; but again no arrests were made.

Assistant Chief E. L. Jett and Captain W. M. Mayo, who were in charge at headquarters each time Fain was said to have been at the Harris Street address, were the next witnesses called.

A blank bill of indictment, charging Colonel T. B. Felder with a misdemeanor in the carrying of concealed weapons, was presented to the Grand Jury when it met Tuesday morning in the Thrower Building.

The indictment is another chapter in the sensational Felder-Lanford controversy, which had its beginning in the publication of the details of a dictograph plot to obtain bribery evidence against Colonel Felder.

A personal clash between Chief of Detectives Lanford and Colonel Felder during the Grand Jury hearing gave rise to the present action. Criminations and recriminations were flying back and forth when the two men leaped from their chairs in an ante-room and started toward one another.

Felder’s hand is said to have reached toward his hip pocket. Dr. Horace Grant, who stepped between the angry men, has been subpoenaed as the principal witness, and it is understood that he will testify he saw the weapon exposed when Felder reached toward his pocket.

The Vice Probe.

That the vice probe will be conducted with unabated vigor by the Grand Jury was indicated by the drawing of a blank bill of indictment against Mrs. N. P. Powell, convicted last week as the proprietor of a disorderly house and sentenced to twelve months in jail.

Many witnesses were on hand to testify against Mrs. Powell, and it is understood that many others will be named for indictment by the Grand Jury before the session is concluded. It is the intention of the Grand Jury to make the most thorough and sweeping sort of an investigation of the reports of widespread immorality in the city.

Exception was taken to the statement of Chief Beavers that he was prevented from closing of the most notorious resort in the city through an injunction of the Superior Court. It will be the purpose of the Grand Jury to show that the courts are not interfering in the closing of the immoral resorts.

Fain Also Accused.

Another blank indictment in the wholesale vice probe was drawn against W. F. Fain, a member of the Police Commission, the tale of whose alleged conduct in an Ivy Street resort startled the Grand Jury last week. Fain was charged with a misdemeanor in the bill, and it is understood that the alleged occurrence in this resort was the basis.

J. A. Skaggs, of the Southern Express Company, and Allen Young, a real estate agent, were subpoenaed as witnesses. Fain’s case was on the clendar after that of Colonel Felder.

All Witnesses Resummoned.

Practically every witness who had testified was summoned again late Monday afternoon. Although neither Foreman L. H. Beck nor Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey would discuss the meeting, witnesses themselves were certain the jury had reached an eleventh-hour decision to make an exhaustive investigation of alleged vice conditions.

Chief of Police James L. Beavers, A. S. Colyar, Jr., and Colonel Thomas B. Felder were the only witnesses not subpoenaed.

Carl Hutcheson, the young attorney who furnished the jury with a list of alleged “houses in our midst,” and who agitated a more thorough probe when the jury announced last week its investigation had been concluded, was one of the first to receive a summons.

Allen Young, real estate man, who was called before the jury to tell of an alleged fight in a disorderly house in which a man high up in police circles was said to have figure, was summoned to appear before the jury Wednesday. While a deputy was in his office with the subpoena, the Solicitor’s office telephoned him to appear before the jury Tuesday and again Wednesday.

J. E. Skaggs, agent for the Southern Express Company; Chief of Detectives Lanford, Assistant Chief of Police Ewell L. Jett, three other police officers and several women whose names have been handed Foreman L. H. Beck as being willing to tell of the existence of alleged disorderly houses, were other witnesses summoned.

One of the witnesses summoned was said to be Mrs. N. P. Powell, a pretty young woman who recently was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment for running a disorderly house at 95 Spring Street. When sentence was pronounced, she expressed a willingness to testify before the Grand Jury. Her name was furnished the foreman in a letter urging him to have her come before the body.

Whether the foreman intends to make a further and more exhaustive probe of conditions in Atlanta with a view to making a comprehensive presentment, or the Solicitor summoned the witnesses with a view of setting indictments, could not be learned.

Former Burns Man Called.

A new figure in the Felder-Colyar-Lanford dictograph contorversy, whose name had never been mentioned, was summoned on Tuesday morning to appear before the Fulton County Grand Jury.

He is G. C. Carson, formerly a Burns detective and now in the employ of an Atlanta law firm. According to statements he made Tuesday afternoon, he will tell the Grand Jury that he was present at an interview between Thomas B. Felder and G. C. Febuary shortly after the publication of the alleged dictograph records, in which Febuary told Colonel Felder that the dictograph affair was a frame-up and promised to come to Felder’s office and make an affidavit to that effect.

Carson, who says he is an intimate friend of Febuary, declares that the latter never went to Felder’s office.

Carson declares also that if asked to do so by the Grand Jury, he can shed more light on the vice situation. He claims to know of the existence of gambling houses in Atlanta, and claims he has visited them in company with city detectives, and that he has seen detectives in the places drinking with women.

Hotels Asked to Aid Vice War.

Recorder Broyles has called on small hotel keepers to aid Chief Beavers in suppressing vice in Atlanta. In a statement from the bench he said co-operation of hotel proprietors would result not only in accomplishing great good, but would deprive “Carl Hutcheson and that Philadelphia preacher” of so much to talk about.

Carl Hutcheson recently attracted attention by charging the chief with failure to suppress vice, later testifying before the Grand Jury, where he was supposed to have divulged a list of immoral houses.

The “Philadelphia preacher” is the Rev. Zane Batten, who was reported having declared nineteen women accosted him in one night in Atlanta, but who afterward said it was two friends of his who had been solicited.

Recorder Broyles’ observations from the bench were made late Monday afternoon in the trial of J. T. Mangum, manager of the Albian Hotel, charged with running a disorderly house. He was bound over under $250 bond. Two couples arrested in the hotel were fined $15.75 each.

Recorder Broyles said:

“You hotel proprietors, particularly the small ones, could aid us in cleaning up Atlanta if you only would. If the hotel proprietors would do their part it would be of the greatest assistance to Chief Beavers in his great work of keeping Atlanta clean.”

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The Atlanta Georgian, June 10th 1913, “Indictment of Felder and Fain Asked,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)