Scott Believes Conley Innocent, Asserts Lanford

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, July 19, 1913

Chief’s Statement Follows the Publication of Report That Pinkertons Are Now of the Opinion Sweeper Is Guilty.


“Our Testimony in Case Will Be Fair and Impartial,” He Says—Grand Jury Called to Consider Indicting Conley.


Meeting of grand jury called to take steps leading to indictment of James Conley on the charge of murder, over protest of Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey, who declares that indictment of Conley will be useless procedure.

Reported on Friday that the Pinkertons have changed their opinion in case, and now believe Conley guilty of murder, and Leo M. Frank innocent.

Harry Scott, field manager of Pinkertons, is denied permission to see Conley in his cell and subject him to quiz, although always allowed this privilege in past.

“Scott told me he still believes Conley innocent and Frank guilty,” says Chief of Detectives Lanford. “Pinkertons will give fair and impartial testimony at coming trial,” Scott tells Constitution. “Whether it affects Frank or the negro is no concern of ours; we were employed to find the murderer.”

“Conley is dealing fairly with the state of Georgia,” says his attorney, William M. Smith, in making attack on action of the grand jury.

That Harry Scott, field manager for the Pinkertons, came to police headquarters yesterday afternoon immediately following the publication of a story to the effect that the Pinkertons now believed in Conley’s guilt, and declared that he still held to the theory that the negro was innocent and Frank guilty, was the assertion made by Newport Lanford, chief of detectives, last night.

“Scott told me,” said the chief last night, “that there was no truth in the article so far as he personally was concerned, and that he continued firm in the belief that Conley was innocent.

“He has maintained throughout the investigation that Frank is guilty, and that Conley had nothing more to do with the crime than the complicity to which he confessed. He came to me Friday especially to deny the story.

Why Scott Was Barred.

Lanford stated that Scott had worked during the entire case along this line. It is further stated that Scott told the chief Friday that his original belief had not been altered in the slightest.

A prominent police official explained the move which prevented Scott from interviewing the negro Friday afternoon. It was to keep any additional statement which might be made by the negro from reaching the ears of counsel for Frank’s defense, he said.

“Police headquarters has been working in co-operation with Scott,” said the official, “and he has been invaluable to the Phagan investigation. His retainers, however, are pencil factory officials, and his daily reports are submitted to Frank’s counsel.

“We did not want to embarrass Scott by requesting him to keep silent, and did not want to risk the probability of letting new developments reach Frank’s attorneys. Therefore, we were forced to prevent him from seeing the negro.”

It was inferred by this statement that new evidence has been gained from Conley. Chief Lanford would not commit himself. He would neither deny nor affirm the report that additional statements had been obtained.

Scott’s Attitude.

Detective Harry Scott made his attitude in the Phagan case clear to a reporter last night. He declared that he would not commit himself as to his belief of guilt either toward Conley or Frank, but that he was open to conviction regarding either suspect.

“The Pinkertons at the coming trial—or any others that may result from the case—will give fair and impartial testimony. Whether it affects Frank or the negro is no concern of ours. We were employed to apprehend the murderer. This we strove to do at the best of our ability. All evidence we have got will be submitted fully and fairly.”

Scott Is Non-Committal.

Scott would not say whether the evidence at hand was damaging to either of the prisoners. He was extremely non-committal; in fact, more […]

Continued on Page Two.


Continued From Page One.

[…] so than at any other stage of the famous case. He did state, however, that there had been no change of attitude in the Pinkerton forces, and that they were concerned in the investigation as they had always been, solely to find the slayer.

It was also stated from the Pinkerton offices that they would not assist the defense of Leo Frank. Their relationship, it is rumored, has been severed from the police department so far as concerns the Phagan case. They will not strive it was said, to prosecute or defend anyone put on trial their object being to submit evidence tending to disclose the murderer.

Conley Quizzed Enough.

Regarding the action of Chief Beavers in refusing permission to see Conley when he applied at police headquarters Friday afternoon, Scott told the reporter.

I will not try to examine the negro again. I do not want to clash with the police department in the first place and in the second I do not think it necessary to quizz [sic] Conley any further. He has already told enough.

As to a definite statement having been made of their attitude as was reported Friday afternoon Scott declared that no such intimation had been given from his office. It probably resulted, he said, because of their reticence which has been maintained of late and of the refusal of the police chief to permit an interview with Conley.

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The Atlanta Constitution, July 19th 1913, “Scott Believes Conley Innocent, Asserts Lanford,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)