Pinkerton Detective Replies to Lanford

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

H. B. Pierce Declares Lanford Knew of Find of Bloody Stick in Factory

H. B. Pierce, head of the local branch of the Pinkerton detective agency, characterizes as absurd Chief Detective N. A. Langford’s [sic] charge that the Pinkerton sleuth has broken faith with the state in the Pinkerton’s investigation of the Phagan case.

Chief Lanford charges specifically that the Pinkerton broke faith by failing to report the find by two of his men of the part of a pay envelope and of a bloody stick on the first floor of the factory. The find was made in the absence of Harry Scott, who has conducted the Phagan investigation for the Pinkertons, and who Lanford says has been absolutely square and fair in all of his dealings with the state and the police.

Pierce, the chief charges, in the absence of Scott, turned the stick and the pay envelope over the attorneys for the defense, and said nothing to him or to the state about it.

Pierce denies this fully, saying that about May 15, only a few days after the find, he mentioned the fact that two of his men had picked up a bloody stick, a part of a pay envelope, and some rope at a certain point on the first floor of the basement.

Lanford, when he was told this, Pierce says, declared that the articles had been placed there as a plant; that his men and Harry Scott and representatives of an insurance company had scoured the three floors of the factory, and that the articles in question could not have been there, but a very short time before they were found.

“I was not working on the case myself,” says Pierce, “and knew nothing about it. In fact I had been out of town practically since the murder. As a result, when Chief Lanford cried ‘plant,’ I considered the find of no importance. I did turn the stick over to the defense, telling them that it might be a plant and leaving it to them to investigate.’

“That is absolutely the last I thought of the matter until I read a story in The Journal saying that the bloody club was considered of importance in the case.

“Then I went to Mr. Rosser and asked that it be turned over to the solicitor general, and this I understand, has been done.

“The Pinkertons have sought to find the murderer of Mary Phagan and have given the state every bit of evidence which they found, regardless of who is hit. I am sure that the solicitor general will confirm my statement that we have not broken faith with the state.”

Chief of Detectives Lanford denies the statement attributed to him that he is going to seek a police board investigation of the conduct of Pierce in the case.