My Son Innocent, Declares Mother of Leo M. Frank

My Son Innocent

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

Atlanta Constitution

Tuesday, May 13th, 1913

“I Am Confident That He Will Be Proven Not Guilty of This Terrible Crime,” She Tells Reporter


W. J. Burns Secured to Take Charge of Phagan Mystery Investigation—Engaged by Friends of Murdered Girl


It was reported on good authority this morning that officers working upon the Mary Phagan murder would make a new arrest today or tomorrow which is expected to throw an entirely new light upon the case.

None of the officials have discussed this new phase of the mystery and whether or not their activity of the past few days has resulted in the unearthing of clews leading to an arrest is unknown.

My son is entirely innocent but it is a terrible thing that even a shadow or suspicion should fall upon him I am sure of his innocence and am confident that he will be proven not guilty of this terrible crime.

Mrs. Rudolph Frank, aged mother of Leo M. Frank, who is held in the Tower as a suspect in the Mary Phagan mystery case, made this statement yesterday afternoon to a representative of The Constitution at her home in Brooklyn.

She had just informed her friends of the arrest of her son in Atlanta and of the charge made against him in the Gate City. She had not told them earlier because of her belief that he would be quickly set at liberty.

Mrs. Frank has not seen her son since she came south with her husband to attend his marriage. It is probable, however, that she will soon come again to be with him at the trial.

Last night The Constitution received the following telegram from its New York representative:

Story From New York

New York, May 12—(Special)—Mrs. Rudolph Frank, of No. 152 Underhill avenue, Brooklyn, mother of Leo M. Frank, general superintendent of the National Pencil company of Atlanta, Ga., made it known to her friends today that she had received news from Atlanta that her son has been held for the grand jury in connection with the murder of Mary Phagan, 14-year-old employee of the company.

Mrs. Frank has not seen her son since two years ago last fall when she and her husband went to Atlanta to be present at his marriage.

Leo Frank, although only 29-years-old has advanced so rapidly and was so well thought of by his employers that he was given charge of all three plants of the company at Atlanta. Young Frank went south about six years ago. He is a Cornell graduate and is very highly thought of and greatly respected in Atlanta according to his mother’s statement. He is a church man, has taken a leading part in organized charitable work and is a member of several clubs in the southern city.

“I know my son is entirely innocent but it is a terrible thing that even a shadow of suspicion should fall upon him,” said Mrs. Frank. “You see, my boy was the last one so far as the police know who saw the girl alive. He gave her her pay envelope on Saturday, two weeks ago, and she was not seen alive after that. I am sure of his innocence and am confident he will be proven not guilty of this terrible crime.”

Young Frank was employed by the National Meter company in Brooklyn before he went south to Atlanta. The Franks live in a handsome home in an exclusive neighborhood. His father is a traveling man.

William Burns Secured.

William J. Burns, heralded as America’s greatest detective, is to personally begin a hunt for the murderer of Mary Phagan. Upon his arrival from Europe in New York this afternoon, it is said he will come immediately to Atlanta.

Colonel Thomas B. Felder, who has been retained in the Phagan mystery by relatives and friends of the slain girl, is responsible for the engagement of the famous sleuth. Several days ago he journeyed to New York for the express purpose of consulting officials of the Burns agency.

As a result, Raymond Burns, son of the noted detective, cabled his father in Europe, where the latter has been investigating the whereabouts of Wilberforce Martin, the Memphis millionaire, whose disappearance recently created international sensation. Burns wired back that he would take up the local mystery and would embark immediately for America.

Burns is scheduled to be in Atlanta Thursday en route to Macon, where he has been invited to speak before the convention of the Georgia State Bankers’ association. His address, “A New Era in the Detection of Crime,” is to be delivered Friday afternoon.

Has Never Failed on a Case.

The noted detective’s reputation of having never personally undertaken a mystery which he did not solve, inspires hope in the thousands throughout the city and state who have become interested in the baffling case.

Mr. Felder would not divulge the source of the funds which are to employ Burns, but is inferred that they have been obtained by subscriptions donated by friends of relatives of the slain girl, in which manner he himself was retained. Neither would he state the amount necessary to engage Burns.

No New Developments.

The Phagan mystery remained in its normal, unsolved state Monday. Although the detectives worked diligently throughout the day, no new clues were discovered or no developments unearthed. Solicitor Dorsey spent the day examining witnesses and preparing evidence at hand for submittance [sic] to the grand jury.

For the first time during his imprisonment, Leo Frank was visited by his wife. Heretofore she had been too ill to reach the Tower. She remained for an hour or more and was in tears upon emerging from the prison. Frank, too, was visibly affected by the visit. He apparently is regaining the health impaired by the effect of imprisonment and the grueling to which he was subjected by detectives and at the inquest.

The mysterious sleuth employed by Solicitor Dorsey, whose identity has never been revealed, but whose fame is said to be widespread left the city Monday morning on some secret mission which is puzzling newspaper reporters and the detective staff at police headquarters.

Mr. Dorsey will not tell his strange detective’s destination or the nature of his errand. Such an atmosphere of mystery has been created around the solicitor’s sleuth that many persons are striving as hard to disclose his identity as they once strove to find the murderer.

Knows Dorsey’s Sleuth.

Chief Newport A. Lanford, in charge of the detective department at police headquarters, told a reporter for The Constitution last night that he could reveal the identity of Solicitor Hugh Dorsey’s mysterious sleuth who has been heralded as a “world-beater.”

“He’s either Detective John Starnes or Patrick Campbell,” said the chief. “Both of these men are attached to the headquarters’ staff, and are working under the solicitor. I believe they are the only detectives employed by Mr. Dorsey, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that one of them is the mysterious sleuth.”

Mr. Dorsey said:

“Campbell and Starnes are doing good work, all right, and they are capable detectives, but neither of them is the man to whom I referred when I said ‘America’s greatest sleuth.’ For reasons best known to myself, I intend to withhold his name until the proper time for disclosures. He is out of the city at present, working on the Phagan case, and upon his return I expect to be able to give out some startling evidence he plans to unearth.”

Character Testimony.

Although three witnesses with testimony of that nature were introduced in the coroner’s inquest, and detectives have obtained a park policeman as a witness, character testimony cannot be introduced by the prosecution unless Frank’s character is put into issue by the defense.

This was made definitely known Monday by Solicitor Dorsey, who declared that but few efforts were being put forth to obtain evidence derogatory to the suspect’s character and conduct. It has been rumored that the 100 or more employees of the pencil factory were subpoenaed, to give testimony against the superintendent’s character. Only three of that number were examined. The coroner and members of his jury say, however, that such was not the intentions of his jury.

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Atlanta Constitution, May 13th 1913, “My Son Innocent, Declares Mother of Leo M. Frank,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)