Officials Plan to Exhume Body of Victim Today

Officials Plan to Exhume Body of Victim TodayAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Wednesday, May 7th, 1913

For Second Time in Less Than Week Physicians to Make Examination at the Graveside of Mary Phagan.


Search for Finger Prints and New Wounds Is Reported Reason—Inquest Resumed Thursday—Strange Man Sought.

Mary Phagan’s body will be exhumed today for the second time. Bertillion and medical experts will make examinations for finger prints and wounds which may have been overlooked before. Coroner Donehoo and Dr. H. F. Harris, of the state board of health, will be in charge.

Between 9 and 10 o’clock is the scheduled time. The coroner and Dr. Harris and others of their staffs will leave at daybreak this morning in automobiles. They are expected to return about noon. The examination will be at the grave side.

This action is taken at the request of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey. Neither he nor Dr. Harris would talk when questioned by a Constitution reporter last night. Although they admitted that a second exhumation was in view, they would not divulge their reason.

Dr. Harris is Non-Committal.

“I am not in a position to talk,” said Dr. Harris. “Under other circumstances, I would be glad to give any information at my command. In this case, though, I have been urged to secrecy, and cannot violate my trust.”

The solicitor said:

“I cannot talk. The body will be exhumed, it is true, at my request. To reveal further plans would be ruinous.”

It was learned by The Constitution, however, that the body was to be exhumed for an examination for possible finger prints and wounds. The information came from responsible source.

It also is rumored that a Bertillion expert, summoned by authorities, arrived in Atlanta last night, and will inspect the body for finger prints. In case such evidence is revealed, photographs will be made and placed in hands of the solicitor general.

The examination for wounds will be made by Dr. Harris. When he was asked if his analysis of the dead girl’s stomach had been finished, he said:

Examination Not Complete.

“The examination has not been completed. It is well under way, however, and within a few days, I will be prepared to submit the result before the coroner’s jury.”

He was asked if he could determine at this stage of the examination whether or not there were traces of drugs or dope.

He answered: “I am not prepared to talk on that subject. I will be unable to make a statement until I am called before the coroner’s inquest.”

The body was first exhumed last Sunday night under supervision of Dr. Harris, Coroner Donehoo and County Physician John W. Hurt. The stomach was removed and placed in the laboratory of Dr. Harris, who is analyzing it for traces of drugs or poison.

It came as a surprise. It was not made known until 2:50 o’clock Monday afternoon when the coroner and Dr. Hurt appeared at the inquest held at police headquarters. It was intended to keep the second exhumation a secret, in accordance with plans of the solicitor.

Seek Strange Man.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey is striving to learn the identity of the strange man who participated in a sensational scene at the Terminal station last Saturday week with a girl believed to have been Mary Phagan.

It was learned Tuesday that this man’s suit case, which was checked overnight in the parcel check room, was tagged with a label bearing the lettering:

“National Pencil Company; Atlanta.”

Also, it was disclosed that, following the scene created by him and the girl, he cancelled his Pullman ticket for Saturday night, returning Sunday afternoon to engage a berth for that night. He left the station Saturday in company with the girl.

Girl Makes Scene.

As he has already been revealed, a youthful, well-dressed man, wearing a straw hat and carrying a suit case, walked hurriedly from the waiting room of the Terminal Saturday afternoon of the 26th, and made his way along the runway leading to the track stairways.

As he reached the gateway of tracks No. 5 and 6, a pretty girl, about 14 years old, clad in summer frock and wearing a dark blue straw hat, rushed from the waiting room and accosted him. She seemed angry. He dropped his case and led her away from the crowd, apparently to have a talk with her.

The attention of a gateman, who had noticed the arrival of both the man and girl, was again attracted to them by loud exclamations from the girl. She was furious and tearful, while he was obviously trying to explain something.

“You want to leave me; you want to leave,” she was heard to wail. “I won’t let you. You are doing wrong. You are, you know you are!”

Scene Attracts Attention.

The scene attracted [a] considerable crowd. The man drew himself away, picked up his suitcase, and catching the tearful girl by the arm, moved with her to the window of the parcel check room. There he deposited the case. [T]he operator of the check room states that he noticed the name of the pencil firm on a tag attached to the baggage, but thought nothing of it until several days later, when he read of the Phagan tragedy.

The man and girl walked into the waiting room, where he went to the ticket window and cancelled the Pullman ticket he had obtained for a trip that afternoon. The agent could not recollect his destination. Immediately, he and his companion left the station, and were last noticed as they walked across the plaza toward Mitchell street.

Sunday afternoon he returned alone to the Terminal and obtained a Pullman berth for a journey that night. The ticket agent, it is said, will be able to identify him in the event he is located, and so will the parcel check room man.

The description of the girl, as given by the gateman and man who checked the stranger’s suit case, fit aptly with that of the murdered girl. Neither saw her body, however, as it had been buried before news of the pencil plant tragedy refreshed their memory of the station incident.

Coroner’s Inquest Thursday.

A number of attaches to the pencil concern will probably be examined in the effort to learn the identity of the strange man at the Terminal, when the coroner’s jury meets Thursday. The pencil company tag on the suit case leads the solicitor and his staff to believe he was connected in some capacity with the plant.

Dorsey Makes Denial.

Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey declared yesterday that in speaking with Lemmie Quinn, foreman of the National Pencil factory, about the Phagan murder case, that he had not asked Quinn if counsel had bribed him for his testimony.

“It is the last thing that would come into my mind,” said the solicitor. “I did ask Quinn about whom he had been talking with and asked him if anybody was paying him for his testimony, but I certainly did not mention counsel or anyone else in particular in regard to the case.”

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Atlanta Constitution, May 7th 1913, “Officials Plan to Exhume Body of Victim Today,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)