Lanford Ridicules Bludgeon Evidence

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 23rd, 1913

Scouts New ‘Proof’ of Defense

Detective Chief Scoffs at Claim of Evidence That Club Used by Negro Was Found.

Chief of Detectives Newport Lanford Wednesday morning ridiculed the story that the defense of Leo M. Frank has in its possession a bloody club, alleged to have been found by two Pinkerton detectives on May 10 in the National Pencil Factory, and with which, it is reported, the defense will contend Mary Phagan was slain by James Conley, the negro sweeper.

Asserting that he knows nothing whatever of the alleged bloody club, Chief Lanford declared that, if Pinkerton detectives found such a weapon on May 10, or any other date, they had failed to report the fact to him. Failure to officially report such a find would be regarded as a breach of the pact between the city detectives and the Pinkertons, as the latter officers, while employed by the pencil factory, have been working hand in hand with city detectives, with the understanding that any evidence they unearthed would be communicated to detective headquarters.

Has Received No Report.

“If Pinkerton detectives found a bloody club in the pencil factory they certainly should have reported that fact to me at once—I have received no such report,” said Chief Lanford.

The police regard as significant the attitude of Harry Scott, who is managing the Pinkerton investigation, and who, subsequent to May 10, has continued to assert his belief in the guilt of Frank.

Chief Lanford characterized the alleged finding of the club as an “absurdity,” and scouted the idea of it having any bearing on the case. He is satisfied, he said, that it will never figure as evidence.

The chief said the only club found in the pencil factory of which he had any knowledge, was a small section of broom handle, about a foot in length, which hung by a cord beside the desk of Leo M. Frank in the latter’s private office.

Broom Handle Was Found.

This “club” bore no blood stains, he said, and showed no evidence of having ever been used as a weapon in any way. It was too light to have done any damage had a blow been struck with it, he said.

Chief Lanford treated the bloody club story in the manner of a joke.

“Do you see a club there?” remarked the Chief, pointing to a perfectly clear spot on his office floor, when asked as to the reported find by the Pinkertons.

“Well, that’s the answer,” he continued. “There is just as much of a bloody club lying there on that floor as there was on the floor of the pencil factory, where it is said the Pinkertons found their bloody club. The whole thing is absurd and will have no bearing whatever on the case of Frank. I’m satisfied this mysterious club will never be introduced in evidence.

No Weapon Was Found.

“When it is recalled that the very spot that yielded up this bloody club was searched thoroughly more than a dozen times by numerous officers prior to May 10 and no club nor other weapon was found, the ridiculousness of this story is apparent. We searched that factory from top to bottom and bottom to top, closely investigating every conceivable place for weapons or any other bit of evidence that might throw light on the mystery, and yet no club was found.

“There’s absolutely nothing to it.

“In Frank’s private office we found a small piece of broomstick, hanging by a cord beside his desk. There were no blood stains on it, and it showed no evidence of having been used as a weapon. In the first place, it was too light to serve as a weapon. This was the only club found in the factory at the time any possible weapons should have been found and would have been found.”

Date Still in Doubt.

Reuben Arnold said Wednesday that the defense would ask for no continuance of the Frank case except for such imperative reasons as the absence of material witnesses or the illness of counsel. Luther Rosser, chief of counsel, also has indicated that no move will be made by the defense for further delay in the trial unless an emergency arises of the sort described by Attorney Arnold.

Informal conferences between the counsel in the Crawford will case and those in the Frank case, in both of which Rosser and Arnold appear as attorneys, have resulted in the announcement that the persons interested in the Crawford hearing are willing to waive the priority of their case and permit the Frank trial to go on Monday.