Scott Called by Defense To Refute Conley’s Story

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 8th, 1913


The defense sprang a surprise during the afternoon session whey they called Detective Harry Scott to the stand to testify to the third-degree under which Jim Conley had been placed at police headquarters and which process had exacted his three conflicting confessions.

Scott stated throughout his testimony that Conley had told conflicting stories on numerous occasions during his early imprisonment, and that had failed to tell the detectives much of the story which he related on the witness stand Tuesday and Wednesday.

Scott’s statement created a telling of fact and it is said to have caused the wavering of opinion of the negro’s story. According to the detective’s testimony Conley’s story from past records showed itself to be an unfathomably mess of fabrications.

The Pinkerton man was not removed from the stand until the adjournment of the afternoon session.

He was questioned by Luther Rosser.

“You had information on Monday following the murder that Mrs. Arthur White had seen a negro loitering on the first floor, didn’t you? Did you give it to the police?”


“You worked in cooperation with the police, didn’t you?”


“Did you inquire at the factory if Conley could write?”


“When did you first discover that he would write?”

“Sunday, May 18.”

“I have here a statement purporting to have been written by James Conley on May 18. Were you present when it was made? Please examine it.”

“Yes, I wrote it myself.”

“Who furnished you the data?”

“Jim Conley.”

“Did he furnish you any other statements.?”

“Not that day.”

“In the statement he gave you he recited minute details, didn’t he?”


“None of his movements as detailed in the first statement included a visit to the pencil factory did they?”


“He told you he left his home between 9 and 9:30 o’clock didn’t he?”


“He told you of buying beer and whisky, didn’t he?”


Was Told Conley Could Write

“You knew that the information that he could write came from the pencil factory?”


All the while the attorney plied the witness with questions, he was searching through Conley’s various statements made at police headquarters during the time of his confessions.

“On May 18 you dictate a d statement to Conley, didn’t you?”


“You were present weren’t you when he was brought before Mrs. White?”


“What was his behavior?”

“He was nervous.”

“Did he make any movements with his mouth as a signal to his wife?”

“Describe them.”

Scott illustrated with his mouth a lip motion he attributed to Conley.

“Didn’t he verbally deny to you on May 18 that he had connection with the murder?”


“You gave him the third degree, didn’t you?”

“I wouldn’t say that we use the third degree in our business.”

“Didn’t one of you wheedle him and the other sympathize with him?”

“I’ll admit we used a bit of profanity.”

“How long was the gruelling you gave him that Sunday?”

“Two hours.”

“Did you have another conversation with him on May 24?”


“It was put in writing?”

“Yes, by a stenographer.”

“Was he carried to Solicitor Dorsey that day?”


“He denied having seen the girl’s body, didn’t he?”


“He said too that he made the notes on Friday?”


“He told you the second time he made a statement that he was going to tell the whole truth?”

“Yes. He made a voluntary statement that day.”

“That was his first sworn statement, wasn’t it?”


“You saw him again on May 27?”



“Police headquarters.

First Statement Showed Premeditation

“You impressed upon him the fact that his first statement was not plausible and that his story of writing the notes on Friday would show premeditations, didn’t you?”


“You saw him again on May 28?”


“You stayed with him all day that time explaining that his statement was far fetched as well as absolutely unbelievable?”


“On this day he made another statement?”


“This time he changed his dates from Friday to Saturday?”


“He said it was his last statement didn’t he and that had made up his mind to tell the truth?”


“He said that when he left the Capital City laundry, he met Frank and that Frank followed him to the factory?”


“How many notes hid he say he wrote?”


“What else did he say?”

“He said that all that Frank wrote was Dear mother.”

“What sort of negro was Jim when you first saw him?
“He was dirty and ragged.”

“When they brought him into court the other day he was as slick as an onion, wasn’t he?”


“He told you the reason he washed his shirt the day he was arrested was because he had been wearing it a long time?”


On May 29 you had another talk with him?”


“Did you give him the third degree that day?”

“No, not what you’d call the third degree.”

“You stayed with him until [1 word illegible] o’clock at night?”


“On this occasion he told you that he hadn’t told the truth up to that time because he expected Mr. Frank to get him out?”


“In that statement he said nothing about watching for Frank, did he?”


“Did you ever try to get him to tell you about the meshbag of Mary Phagan’s?”

“Yes. He denied having seen it.”

“Did he tell you anything about Frank putting it in his safe?”

“He told me nothing about it.”

“At first, didn’t he tell you he wrote only one note?”


At this point of the examination both Mr. and Mrs. Frank leaned over to the attorney’s chair and consulted secretly with Mr. Rosser.

“Did he say he gave the cigarettes and money in a box or the money and cigarettes in a cigarette box?”

“He said he gave the money and cigarettes in the cigarette box.”

First Called Her Phagan

“In speaking of Mary Phagan, did he say he thought her name was Mary Phagan?”


“Did he tell you that he saw a girl he thought was Mary Phagan go to the second floor on the day of the murder and that after she had been on the floor a moment or so heard footsteps going back towards the metal room?”


“Did he ever say anything to you about hearing a girl scream on the second floor?”


“He told you that Mr. Frank sent him back to the metal room, didn’t he?”


“Did he tell you anything about wrapping the body up in a cloth?”


“Conley didn’t say anything about the cord around her neck, did he?”

“Yes, he described it as being looped tightly around her throat.”

“Did he say that he put the sack on his shoulder and that the body touched him about the legs?”


“Did he say anything about the ribbon or slipper, or hat being found upstairs?”

“He mentioned the hat and slipper but not the ribbon.”

“Did you ask him about the ribbon?”


“He didn’t say anything about Frank stumbling on the street floor?”

“No, he said Frank stumbled on the office floor.”

“Did you ask Conley anything about burning the body?”

“Yes, he said it was untrue.”

“Did he tell you he promised to come back and burn the body and that he went to sleep and forgot it?”


“Did he say that he told Frank that Frank was a white man and had done it and that he wouldn’t go down in the basement unless Frank went with him?”


“Did you ask him about any plans to get away and he said Frank had arranged to make his bond and send him away?”


“Did he say anything about Frank assuring him of a way to get in the building when he returned to burn the body?”


“Describe the scene in which you convinced Conley he could write.”

Forced Conley to Write

“We took him into Chief Lanford’s office and gave him a pad telling him to write. We told him we knew he could write and that he needn’t hesitate. He picked up a pencil and wrote easily.”

The solicitor began cross examination at this juncture.

“With way city official, he asked, did you communicate regarding Mrs. White’s statement that she saw a negro at the factory?”

An objection by Rosser was overruled.

“My impression is that I told Black, Lanford and [1 word illegible] Rosser.”

“Wasn’t it May 7 before you told Rosser?”

“It was a short time after April 28, I remember.”

“How long was it before the state or anybody connected with the prosecution knew of the bloody stick that was found at the factory and which now in the hands of the defense?”

Objection made by Rosser.

“I want to show, said Dorsey, the attitude of the Pinkertons in this matter who were grouped in two divisions, one of which worked for the defense. Mr. Scott only working in touch with the state.”

Dorsey resumed questioning.

“Were you denied admission to Frank?”

Objection by Rosser.

Judge Roan ruled that the witness could state only what was done by Frank himself.

“Did you ever go to the jail with Conley?”

“Yes, Chief Beavers Lanford and Conley and I went to the jail for the purpose of seeing Frank.”

Objection was made by the defense to the word purpose.

“When was the last time you were permitted to see Frank?”

“May 8.”

“Why weren’t you able to see Frank?”

Objections by defense sustained.

“When Conley made his last statement was there any difference in his appearance that the time you saw him make the first statements?”


“Were you in the pencil factory when Conley made his trip there with the detectives?”


“Tell the jury what happened.”

Objection by Rosser on ground that he had gone into that phase of Conley’s connection while examining the witness was sustained.

“Conley altered all matters satisfactorily in his final statement, didn’t he?”


“Come down.”

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, August 8th 1913, “Scott Called by Defense to Refute Conley’s Story,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)