Mary Phagan Pay Envelope Found

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

The Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, July 9, 1913


Finding of Portion of Salary Envelope Bearing Victim’s Name Expected to Strengthen Defense’s Contention


Find Was Made by Pinkertons Just Three Weeks After the Murder, but Was Kept a Secret Until Wednesday.

The pay envelope, which was the quest of Mary Phagan’s visit to the National Pencil factory on April 26, when she met her death, has been found.

At least enough of the envelope to definitely identify it is in the hands of the authorities.

The upper corner of the pay envelope, bearing the name of the victim of the sensational murder mystery, was found on the first floor of the factory by Pinkerton detectives three weeks after the commission of the crime.

While attorneys for the defense and the prosecution have known of the find for weeks, the fact only became public Wednesday.

The corner of the pay envelope was found on the first floor of the factory, behind a radiator, about 15 feet from the stairway and about 8 feet from the place, where James Conley, the negro sweeper, says he sat for more than an hour on the day of the tragedy.

Apparently the portion of the envelope containing the girl’s pitiful wage was carried away. The upper portion could naturally have been torn off and thrown away by the girl or anyone else, who wanted to reach the money.

But at the same time it is possible that the murderer, not wishing to have the incriminating evidence on his person, threw away the only part of the envelope, which could be identified and kept the blank paper.

It is said that the finding of the envelope will prove an assistance to the defense of Leo M. Frank, rather than to the state, for the simple reason that it was found so near the spot where Conley was sitting.

In the several portions of the negro’s various confessions of complicity, which have been made public he has never made any mention of the envelope or of the purse of the dead girl, which it is said, never has been found.

The discovery of the envelope in the particular spot where it is said to have been found, is practically certain to be used by Frank’s attorneys, Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser, in the defense of the trial of Frank. Their view of the matter is said to be that it tends strongly to incriminate the negro and exculpate Frank as the real slayer of Mary Phagan.


Indefinite postponement of the habeas corpus proceedings to secure the release of Newt Lee, negro witness held in the Phagan murder case, was agreed by the negro’s attorneys, Graham and Chappell, and the solicitor general, Hugh M. Dorsey, at the calling of the petition for hearing before Judge W. D. Ellis Wednesday morning.

It was stated then, upon authority, that the defense representing Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, accused of the murder, was not interested in the proceedings in behalf of Newt Lee, either for or against the negro, and that the lawyers retained by Frank would take no hand in that matter one way or the other.

Postponement of the case to a definite time had been expected before the habeas corpus matter was taken up, and, upon previous instructions, the sheriff did not have the negro in court.

This action seemed to dispose of the probability that Jim Conley, the negro sweeper at the factory, and Leo M. Frank, whom he accuses, would be brought face to face in the court in this matter for the first time since Conley made his allegations against the superintendent.

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The Atlanta Journal, July 9th 1913, “Mary Phagan Pay Envelope Found,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)