Phagan Case Goes to the Grand Jury in Present Form

Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, May 20th, 1913

Solicitor and Detectives Are Ready With Evidence and Will Present Bills for Jury’s Consideration Friday


This Question Is Being Considered by Solicitor—Another Report That Mary Phagan Was Seen Saturday P. M.

The Fulton county grand jury will commence its investigation of the murder of Mary Phagan on Friday, not Thursday morning, according to an announcement from the solicitor general’s office.

Unless there is an important development before that time, and none is considered likely, the names of only two suspects, Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, and Newt Lee, negro night watchman, will be presented to the grand jury by the solicitor.

The grand jury hearing may consume two or three days, although it is possible that the body will be willing to return either a true bill or a no bill in one or both cases, after hearing only the principal witnesses.

While it has never been the custom of Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey to allow defendants and witnesses for the defendant before a grand jury hearing, it is said to be probable that an effort will be made to introduce witnesses in behalf of Mr. Frank.

Solicitor Dorsey would not be quoted on the matter, but he is said to be looking up the law on the subject in order that he may be ready to combat any effort of Mr. Frank’s counsel or friends to introduce testimony favorable to him.

Only a short time ago members of a grand jury called Dr. W. H. Gillem, against whom a bill was pending, before the body to answer the charge, but Gillem appeared there in the absence of the solicitor general.

A solicitor general of another circuit declares that in his opinion members of the grand jury may call any one they desire before them, regardless of whether the person summoned has testimony to offer for the state of the defendant.


A definite test of this opinion of the law will be made, it is certain, if members of the grand jury make an effort to introduce any evidence which will be calculated to upset the theory of the crime held by the state.

The four-cornered hunt for the slayer of Mary Phagan was very active Tuesday, the entry of C. W. Tobie, the Burns investigator, into the case having served only to intensify the interest of the other investigators. There are now in progress four practically separate probes of the crime. On the one side of the square is Solicitor General Dorsey and his attaches; on another the city detectives; on the third side the Pinkertons, and on the fourth side the Burns men, who have been brought into the case by Attorney Thomas B. Felder.

The fact that Solicitor General Dorsey is now ready for the case to go before the grand jury, is regarded as evidence that he considers the investigation as practically complete. While Chief of Detectives Newport Lanford will make no direct statement, he intimates that he, too, considers the case as practically complete.

The Burns investigators were reported Tuesday to have found evidence that would establish as a fact that Mary Phagan had been killed between noon and 1 p. m. on Saturday, April 26. Whether they have a witness who will testify to this or have unearthed circumstantial evidence to substantiate the theory is not known.

C. W. Tobie, the Burns investigator, left his hotel early Tuesday morning and had not appeared again at a late hour in the afternoon.

Attorney Thomas B. Felder states that he has heard nothing from Tobie since Monday at 11 o’clock.


The telephone girl, who is supposed to have important information in the case is not regarded seriously by the solicitor general.

The “hello girl,” whatever her name may be stated to an individual, whose name has not been divulged, that she had heard a conversation of importance in the case.

A man sent to get this information from her reported that he couldn’t get it unless he took her out to dinner, and he wanted the state to pay the bill.

The matter appeared so “fishy” to the officers that it was dropped.

Another conflict in the theory of the authorities that little Mary Phagan never left the pencil factory after she entered the building at noon on the day of the murder to get her pay, developed Tuesday morning in the shape of a letter to The Journal. Mrs. A. A. Smith, of 198 West Peachtree street, wrote declaring that she overheard a remark made on the street following the murder by a girl who proposed to have seen the Phagan girl at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Saturday, April 26. Her letter follows:

Editor, Atlanta Journal

Atlanta, Ga.

Dear Sir—On Monday, May 5, 1913, between 4 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon, on Whitehall street, in front of J. M. High & Co.’s store, I heard three ladies in conversation. One was a rather stout lady, about twenty-five years old, the other two ladies were older. I did not note the appearance of the two older ladies as closely as I did the younger one, for the reason that the younger lady did most of the talking.

These ladies were talking about the Phagan case. The younger one said she did not like the looks of Mr. Frank’s picture, but that she believed justice ought to be given inadvertently. She said she knew Mary Phagan well and that she saw her on Whitehall street, near Trinity avenue about 4 o’clock on Memorial Day, after the parade had ended. One of the other ladies said if she knew that, that she ought to tell it to the authorities.

I was deeply impressed with the sincerity of this young woman and have deeply regretted that in the interest of justice I did not ask her name.

So strongly have I felt upon this subject that I have dared to write this card, begging, the ladies referred to in some way communicate with the editor of this paper. I suggest the editor, because I believe that the editor would fairly treat the informant and would see that the information given will be fairly used.

I have no possible interest in the Phagan case, except to see justice done. Will you not give this matter such publicity as will bring a reply from the ladies mentioned. Very truly yours,


198 W. Peachtree street, Atlanta, Ga.

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 Atlanta Journal, May 20th 1913, “Phagan Case Goes to the Grand Jury in Present Form,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)