Says Conley Confessed Slaying

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, July 10, 1913

*Editor’s Note: Articles with the titles “Tells of Conley Confession” and “Says Conley Confessed” also appeared in other editions of the Georgian.


Attorneys for Frank Will Put Main Reliance of Defense on the Startling Affidavit Made by W. H. Mincey and Now in Their Possession.

That Jim Conley, negro sweeper at the National Pencil Factory, made a virtual confession to him that he attacked and killed Mary Phagan is the startling allegation made in an affidavit by William H. Mincey, until recently a solicitor for the American Insurance Company, of 115 1/2 North Pryor Street.

It became known Thursday that this affidavit, which is in the hands of the defense, will be the principal reliance, aside from the alibis which have been established for Frank, in bringing an acquittal of the accused man and obtaining a conviction against the negro.

No other evidence, in all of the more than two months’ investigation of the mystery, has been so damning and so direct. The defense has practically only to establish the credibility of Mincey to assure itself of victory.

Said He Had Killed Girl.

This sensational information is the first hint that the public has had that the negro was alleged to have made a confession of the crime. Up to this time the detectives have said that Conley has denied all connection with the killing itself.

“I’ve killed a girl to-day; I don’t want to kill nobody else,” are the words that Mincey swore Conley spoke to him the afternoon that Mary Phagan was murdered in the pencil factory.

Mincey at the time of which his affidavit relates was selling life insurance in the negro districts. He knew Conley and had been after him several times to take out life insurance, according to the story he told in the office of Attorney Rosser.

Conley Was Drunk.

On the afternoon of the murder of Mary Phagan he met Conley near Electric and Carter Streets. Conley was sitting down with his head in his hands, apparently intoxicated.

“How about that insurance?” Mincey says he asked Conley.

“Get away from here. I don’t want no insurance,” Conley is said to have replied.

Mincey says in his affidavit that he urged Conley further and that the negro appeared to be angry.

“I tell you I don’t want no insurance; I’m in trouble. I don’t want you to bother me,” Mincey swears Conley retorted.

Mincey asserts that he stayed to argue with Conley and that the negro finally said:

“You go away. I’ll be in jail in a few days and I won’t want any insurance.”

Negro Was Enraged.

His satrtling [sic] confession of murder is alleged to have come when he became enraged at Mincey’s continued importunities.

The negro jumped to his feet and advanced toward Mincey menacingly, according to the affidavit:

“I’ve killed a girl to-day; I don’t want to kill nobody else!” Mincey declared Conley shouted at him.

Mincey thought little of the remark at the time, regarding Conley’s remarks as mere braggadocio or an exaggeration of some negro fight in which he had been involved. When he read of the Phagan murder he recalled the remarks of Conley.

Goes to Factory.

On the Tuesday following the strangling of the little girl he went to the factory. He talked to E. F. Holloway, the day watchman, and asked him how many negroes were employed there. Holloway replied that there were seven or eight.

“You should have every one of them arrested at once,” Mincey told[…]


W. H. Mincey, Insurance Agent, Makes Startling Affidavit for Frank Defense.

Continued From Page 1.

[…]him. And then he told of his meeting with Conley. Holloway replied that Conley had not been in the factory that day, no one knowing at the time that the negro had hidden himself in the boxes to the right of the stairway on the first floor.

The shock of the tragedy had not yet worn off, and all was confusion in the building. Because no one suspected that Conley had been in the factory on the Saturday of the crime, a fact which Conley later admitted when under the third degree of the detectives, little attention was paid to Mincey’s story at the time.

Says Police Wouldn’t Listen.

He states that he went to the police station and was told that they did not want his story. He saw Conley and identified him as the negro with whom he talked on the afternoon that Mary Phagan was murdered.

When Conley himself broke down and admitted that he had been hiding on the first floor, Mincey’s sensational story took on the highest significance. He returned to the factory and repeated the details of his former statement. An interview was arranged with a lawyer acquaintance not connected with the case in any way. This attorney heard his story and took him to Attorney Rosser, where the statement was taken in sworn form.

“We do not want your statement unless you can swear to the truth of every word of it,” he was told. He then dictated the affidavit which is now in possession of the defense.

Mincey was a solicitor for the American Insurance Company until about two weeks ago. He left this firm to teach school. He is said to be employed in Chattanooga, but will return to testify at the trial of Leo Frank July 28. He lived at 128 Davis Street until last October and then moved to another part of the city.

Defense Has Faith in It.

Uncovering for the first time the bulwark of defense which Frank’s lawyers have built up around him, as well as containing the first report of a confession from Conley, the affidavit signed by Mincey at once takes its place as the most important document or piece of evidence that has entered into the case.

“Yes, we have the affidavit,” admitted one of the lawyers for the defense Thursday afternoon. “We have had it for some time. We place the utmost reliance in it. We believe this man is telling the truth. It forms one of the strongest foundations for our belief in the guilt of Jim Conley.”

C. J. Graham, of the law firm of Graham & Chpapell [sic], announced on Thursday that the hearing on the writ of habeas corpus for Newt Lee had been set by Judge Ellis for Saturday forenoon at 10 o’clock. He said that he would subpena 50 witnesses to appear at the hearing, among them Leo M. Frank and Jim Conley.

Frank’s attorneys will fight his appearance at the hearing and the State is expected to try to prevent Conley from testifying. Solicitor Dorsey is strongly opposed to the freeing of Lee until after the trial of Frank, and has declared that he will use every effort to thwart the movement of Lee’s attorneys.

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The Atlanta Georgian, July 10th 1913, “Says Conley Confessed Slaying,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)