Man Held for Girl’s Murder Avows He Was With Another When Witness Saw Him Last

by Archivist on April 28, 2016

Man Held for Girl's Murder Avows

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

Atlanta Journal

Monday, April 28th, 1913

Arthur Mullinax, Trolley Conductor, Denies That E. L. Sentell Saw Him Saturday Night With Mary Phagan

Arthur Mullinax, identified by E. L. Sentell, of 22 Davis street, clerk for the Kamper Grocery company, as the man whom he saw with Mary Phagan, the murdered girl, at midnight Saturday, vehemently denies any part in the atrocious crime, and declares that he will be able to prove an alibi. Subjected to a quizzing in the office of Chief of Police Beavers, he told an apparently straightforward story of his actions on the night preceding the finding of the body. Investigation of his statement by the police, however, developed discrepancies, they say. He is kept in solitary confinement on a tentative charge of suspicion.

Sentell, who was an acquaintance of the dead girl, told the police that he saw her at Forsythe and Hunter streets with Mullinax at 12:30 o’clock Sunday morning. He said he spoke to her and that the former street car man tipped his hat in response to the salutation.

In the presence of Chief Beavers, Chief of Detectives Lanford, Police Captain Mayo and Detective Black, the clerk and Mullinax were brought face to face. The clerk reiterated his identification. Pointing at the prisoner, he said:

“That is the man who was with the girl last night. I’m positive. There’s no doubt about it.”

“It’s false! It’s a lie!” cried the man accused. “I was at home asleep, and I can prove it.”

Sentell never wavered in his contention, however.

“WAS WITH ANOTHER.”

Mullinax told the police following his arrest Sunday, that he had called on a girl friend, Miss Pearl Robinson, who lives in Bellwood avenue, and later accompanied her to the Bijou theater.

“We came downtown on an English avenue car, got off at Marietta and Forsyth streets, and went directly to the theater. We arrived at about the middle of the first show and left about the middle of the second. Then we boarded a car and I took the girl home. The only time I was near the intersection where Sentell says he saw me with Miss Phagan was when I took the car with Miss Robinson.”

A coincidence in the case is the fact that Miss Robinson wore the same kind of a dress and is of the same size and appearance as the murdered girl. Friends of Mullinax declare that this shows that Sentell is mistaken in his identification.

“When we arrived at Miss Robinson’s house we talked for awhile,” Mullinax said in his cell. “I guess I stayed there for fifteen minutes. Then I went home. I room at 60 Poplar street, in Bellwood. When I got there I gave Mrs. Emma Rutherford, my landlady, a dollar which I owed her. She slipped it under her pillow. I went to bed then, and didn’t know of the murder until Sunday morning.

THE VITAL FLAW.

In this part of the suspect’s statement the police believe they have picked a vital flaw. Mrs. Rutherford, they say declares that Mullinax did not come home Saturday night and pay her a dollar.

“He gave it to me Saturday at noon,” she said.

In his cell at the jail Mullinax is denied to all callers. Although obviously perturbed over his arrest, he had remained cool and has told time and time again the same story of his actions on the night of the crime.

To reporters he said that he had known the murdered girl but casually. He denied that he had become acquainted with her on her frequent rides on his car between the pencil factory and her home. This, also, is in contravention of other testimony in the hands of the police, officials declare. It is said that witnesses have told of frequent conversations between Miss Phagan and Mullinax on the street car of which the suspect was in charge that would not come under the designation of casual acquaintance.

MET AT CHURCH SOCIAL.

“I met her at a social in Western Heights Baptist church last Christmas,” said the prisoner. “That is the only time I knew her. Anybody that says I was a good friend of hers, lies. Why, I was never even introduced to the girl. We both took part in the entertainment. She depicted ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in a playlet. I did a black-face act and sang in a quartet.

“During the show I was standing in the wings waiting for my turn to go on. Miss Phagan came up to me.

“You look fine in black face,” she said to me. Then I said, ‘Then I’ll keep my face black always.’ It was a joke,” added the alleged murderer as he smiled grimly.

Mullinax said that that was the last time he had seen the girl to talk to her.

“I haven’t been with her since Christmas. I never saw her Saturday night. My arrest is all a horrible mistake, but I’m not worrying much, because the police can’t hold an innocent man long—and I am an innocent man.”

Samples of Mullinax’s handwriting were compared with that of the notes found by the dead girl’s body in the pencil factory basement. The penmanship did not tally.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, April 28th 1913, “Man Held for Girl’s Murder Avows He Was With Another When Witness Saw Him Last,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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