Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
Monday, April 28th, 1913
Gantt Protests His Innocence, Declaring He Knows Nothing of the Crime — Says He Went to Factory Saturday to Get Pair of Shoes Left There—His Statement is Confirmed by Superintendent Frank
DECLARES HE KNEW MARY PHAGAN BUT HAD NOT HARMED HER
It Is Not Known What Was Purpose of His Visit to Marietta Monday —His Whereabouts Sunday Not Yet Explained —Story of His Arrest and What He Says
J. M. Gantt, who was discharged three weeks ago from the position of bookkeeper at the National Pencil company, was arrested shortly before noon Monday at Marietta in connection with the murder of Mary Phagan.
He is the man for whom the police were searching during Monday morning, but whose name they refused to divulge. He was arrested by Bailiff Hicks, of Marietta, just as he stepped from a street car in which he had come from Atlanta.
Gantt protests his innocence, and says that he knows nothing whatever of the murder of Mary Phagan. He admits having gone to the factory of the National Pencil company on Saturday afternoon for shoes that he had left there, but denies that he returned to the factory or was with Mary Phagan at any time during the day.
In a brief statement which he had made at Marietta he said that he knew the murdered girl, but that they were not intimate friends. He explained that after getting the pair of shoes from the factory, he went home and remained there during the night, and that he had no knowledge of the murder until Sunday morning.
It is not known what he did on Sunday, and his visit to Marietta is unexplained. He took the street car from Atlanta, and was arrested as he arrived at Marietta by Bailiff Hicks, who had been notified that Gantt was wanted by the Atlanta police.
Superintendent Frank, of the National Pencil factory, corroborates Gantt’s story about the visit Saturday afternoon to the factory. He says that about 6 o’clock in the evening, Gantt came to the factory and asked permission to get an old pair of shoes that he had left there before his discharge.
The negro night watchman, Newt Lee, asked the superintendent whether Gantt should be permitted to get the shoes, and the permission was granted. But when the superintendent had reached home about 7:30 o’clock, he grew uneasy. He telephoned to the office to know when Gantt left, and Newt Lee, the watchman, answered that the bookkeeper took his departure immediately after getting the shoes.
This is all that officials or employees of the factory know of Gantt’s movements, and the police gave little further information.
When they learned on Monday morning that Gantt had visited the pencil factory on the day of the murder and that he was an acquaintance of Mary Phagan’s they immediately set out to find him.
Two detectives, accompanied by an employee of the factory who knew Gantt, went to the Terminal station searching for him, and the hunt for the bookkeeper was carried on in other parts of the city. But until he was arrested at Marietta by Bailiff Hicks, nothing had been seen of the bookkeeper who the police believe can throw light on the murder of the fourteen-year-old girl.
Detective Hazelitt has gone to Marietta to bring Gantt to Atlanta.
Following closely upon the arrest of J. M. Gantt, discharged bookkeeper of the National Pencil company, in Marietta, Monday morning, Deputy Sheriff Hazelett, armed with a warrant charging the man with the crime, took him in charge and placed him in the Marietta jail. The warrant was sworn out in Atlanta by Detective Ozburn, of the local police force.
While Gantt is incarcerated, Hazelett is making further investigations, the nature of which he declines to divulge. He intimated, however, that still further developments might be expected. When he has completed his investigation, he will return to Atlanta with the prisoner.
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Atlanta Journal, April 28th 1913, “J. M. Gantt is Arrested on His Arrival in Marietta; He Visited Factory Saturday,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)