Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
July 26th, 1913
Says Pierce Broke His Promise
Detective Head Also Asserts Phagan Evidence Private Sleuth Unearthed Was Plant.
Chief of Detectives Lanford roundly scored H. B. Pierce, head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Atlanta, Saturday for what he termed questionable procedure in connection with the Phagan murder investigation.
When application was made by the agency for permission to operate in Atlanta and the matter was under consideration by the Police Board, the promise was made that the Pinkerton’s would work in harmony with the city detective department and would co-operate in the apprehension of criminals.
This promise, according to Lanford, has been kept by all connected with the agency with the exception of Pierce. The Chief intimated that the Police Board would be asked to take action against Pierce personally.
Lanford Hints at “Plant.”
“In the Phagan case Mr. Scott has reported to this department every day and has turned over all the evidence he has found,” said Chief Lanford. “During his absence from the city a bloody stick and an envelope, supposed to have been that in which the money due Mary Phagan was placed, were turned over to the attorneys for the defense, and no mention of the fact made to the detective department.
“The place where these articles were reported to have been found had been searched by officers so thoroughly that it was an absolute impossibility for them have been overlooked. In fact, a search for ten feet around had been made for blood spots.
“In addition to this, the insurance company had all the rubbish removed from this part of the building and the floor scrubbed afterward and before the articles were said to have been found. They were not there at the time, and if they were found there, as Mr. Pierce claims, they were placed there for a purpose.
Charges Breach of Faith.
“Mr. Pierce has not made good his promise (or the promise of his company) to the Police Board, and if the matter is taken up by the board, I will give them the facts.”
The Police Board probably will take the matter up at its next meeting.
Harry Scott, who has conducted the investigation into the Phagan murder mystery for the Pinkertons since the services of the agency were engaged, was subpenaed Saturday as a witness in behalf of Leo M. Frank by counsel for the factory superintendent. The detective previously had been served with a subpena from Solicitor Dorsey’s office.
Inasmuch as Scott’s attitude almost from the first has appeared to be distinctly unfavorable to Frank, this move on the part of the defense was generally unexpected and was the cause of considerable surprised comment. Scott, however, is known to be in possession of facts that seem on their face damaging to the negro Conley, as well as facts that are being used to bring about the conviction of Frank.
“I wish it understood that I am wholly neutral in this matter,” said Scott Saturday afternoon in remarking on the subpena he received from the defense. “The investigation was made by the Pinkertons without fear or favor. We uncovered a large amount of evidence. Some of it was valuable. Some of it was worthless in the light of present developments. Some of it pointed strongly toward the guilt of Frank. Other evidence could be interpreted as very damaging to the negro.
“Our function is to present all of […]
Lanford Scores New Chief of Pinkertons
Charges Breach of Faith With the Police and Questionable Procedure in Phagan Case.
[…] this evidence as it is called for in court, regardless of whom it may help or hurt. We may have our private opinion as to who is the guilty person, but this shall not be allowed to color the testimony as it is given in court. It is for the jury to make its interpretation of the evidence.”
Defense Gets Copies of Notes.
Request was made Saturday by Attorney Rosser for photographic copies of the notes found beside the body of Mary Phagan. The copies were in the possession of Solicitor Dorsey, who readily acceded to the request. The defense will seek to show that Frank could have had no part in their composition or dictation.
The State’s case is reported to be ready for immediate presentation. All of the witnesses have been summoned. All of the panel of 144 jurors, with the exception of six or seven who could not be found, have been notified to be on hand Monday.
Both Sides Getting Ready.
Prosecution and defense continued their preparations for the Frank trial, the last hour hurry of interviewing new witnesses and gathering up the stray ends of evidence, giving a fair promise that the trial will start as scheduled next Monday forenoon.
That Solicitor Dorsey has nearly a score of important witnesses whose testimony has been carefully guarded from the defense and the general public is well known. These witnesses have come to his office from time to time, and the Solicitor has refused to give out the vaguest intimation of the line of testimony they would give at the trial.
The prosecution has reserved their evidence to spring as a surprise during the trial. On these persons the State depends to clinch its case against the young factory superintendent. Some of them will be called to bear out different portions of the negro Conley’s affidavit, in which was told the story of the disposal of Mary Phagan’s body. The Solicitor is understood to have witnesses who will corroborate portions of Conley’s story which have been under severest fire.
Thinks Conley Story True.
The Solicitor several times has announced that he believes Conley is telling the truth in the essential statements of his affidavit. He has strengthened his belief by interviewing many people who were in a position to know of different circumstances mentioned in Conley’s story. The only possibility of an alteration in the State’s theory is that the time element may be modified in certain respects.
Similar surprises may be expected from the defense. Attorney Rosser has not been communicative with the newspaper men. The few bits of his evidence that have become known to the public were obtained in spite of him. Except for the Mincey affidavit, published in The Georgian, most of the important evidence of the defense has been so carefully guarded as to make it still a matter of conjecture. The general plan of Frank’s defense can be surmised, but the contents of the hundred or more affidavits in the possession of Attorney Rosser remain a deep mystery.
“Plant” Generally Suspected.
No one expects at this time that the pay envelope, the bloody club or the piece of rope found on the first floor will play any large part in the trial. Neither side is convinced of their genuineness. The suspicion of a “plant” has prevailed from the time of their discovery.
Two operatives who began turning up this sort of startling evidence the moment they were placed on the case soon were taken off the Phagan mystery by the Pinkerton agency.
Both sides announce themselves ready for the trial to proceed. It is regarded as doubtful that the defense will ask for another continuance, except on account of the absence of material witnesses or the illness of counsel. About 150 witnesses already have been summoned by the defense.
According to Bernard Chappelle, counsel for Newt Lee, the night watchman in the pencil factory, the negro Saturday denied in the presence of Reuben R. Arnold, attorney for Frank, that he had broken down and admitted catching Jim Conley with the body of Mary Phagan.
Chapelle had heard that Frank’s counsel understood Lee had collapsed while being grilled with the sweeper and called up Mr. Arnold. At his suggestion, Arnold visited Lee at the jail and there Lee is said to have reaffirmed his previous statement that he did not see Conley the day of the murder.