Phagan Case Will Go To Grand Jury in Present Form

Phagan Case Will Go to Grand Jury

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

Atlanta Journal

Saturday, May 17th, 1913

State Is Apparently Ready, as Solicitor Says That He is Not Expecting Any New Evidence for Some Time


Attorney Declares Fund for Employment of the Famous Sleuth Has Reached $1,500, About $5,000 is Needed

That the state considers its case as practically complete and is ready to definitely charge the Mary Phagan murder to an individual and to start the legal machinery moving towards a superior court trial is believed from a very significant statement made Saturday by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

“I haven’t learned anything new in several days, and do not expect to for some time,” he said.

The solicitor is still busy, and practically all of his time is consumed in interviewing witnesses and conferring with the detectives who are at work on the mystery.

The majority of the witnesses examined are people who testified at the inquest or whose names have been identified with the case from the first. Among the several witnesses, however, whose status remains unexplained is Ernest A. Muller, an expert accountant, of Chattanooga, who has been in Atlanta for about ten days.

Mr. Muller was subpoenaed before the solicitor Friday afternoon, and left the city soon after his conference.


Mr. Muller did not talk of the conference, but before he answered the summons told friends that he presumed the solicitor wished to use him as a handwriting expert. Mr. Dorsey continues reticent as to the part the letters found by Mary Phagan’s body will play in the case should any one be brought to trial for the crime, but it is said that the state will contend that they were not written by Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, who was ordered held by the coroner’s jury.

The grand jury is scheduled to hold another meeting next Wednesday, but this, it is said, will be fore the transaction of routine business, while the Phagan investigation will start Thursday or Friday, and the grand jury will then act on the cases of the negro, Lee, and Superintendent Leo M. Frank, who were committed by the coroner for investigation.


One of the best of the Burns investigators, a man who was right with the famous detective during the tracking of the McNamaras and in other famous cases, is in Atlanta working quietly toward the solution of the Phagan mystery, according to Attorney T. B. Felder, retained to assist in the prosecution.

Approximately $1,500 has been subscribed already toward the “Burns fund,” according to Mr. Felder. The investigation, he says, will require between $4,000 and $5,000, and he is confident that the necessary amount will be contributed.

Should the investigator who is now on the job secure conclusive evidence as to Mary Phagan’s slayer Mr. Felder states that Mr. Burns’ personal presence will not be necessitated and this will reduce the cost of the probe. Then, he says, any surplus will be prorated among the subscribers.

Attorney Felder declares that the Mary Phagan murder mystery will be solved within a month.

“Am absolutely confident of success,” says Mr. Felder. “Burns has never yet made failure on an important case, and I believe he can clear this perplexing mystery.”

Mr. Felder states that he has had a number of telephone calls from gentlemen who will subscribe to the fund and he urges additional subscriptions.

Three Atlanta newspapers have given $100 each to the Burns fund, and among the other subscribers are Joseph Hirsch, Homer George, manager of the Atlanta theatre; William Lowenstein and Charley Jones.

The great interest in the efforts to solve the mystery of Mary Phagan’s death is shown by the fact that Mr. Felder already has received a number of subscriptions to the fund from people living outside of Atlanta.

Among these subscribers are J. B. Exum, of Douglas; G. L. Fambrough, J. J. Baldwin, B. J. Reed, B. F. Walker, and T. W. Whitfield of Smyrna, Ga.

Mr. Felder states he is withholding the names of the other subscribers at their request. Unless the donor authorizes it, no names will be given for publication, he says.

Mr. Felder expects a number of city organizations to assist in subscribing the total fund necessary for the Burns investigation. Representatives of the Produce Men’s association, of the real estate dealers and of the automobile dealers, he said, have already offered to co-operate with him.

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Atlanta Journal, May 17th 1913, “Phagan Case Will Go To Grand Jury in Present Form,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)