Secret Hunt by Burns in Mystery is Likely

by Archivist on May 14, 2016

William J. Burns

William J. Burns

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, May 14th, 1913

Probably Will Not Reveal Presence in City as He Investigates Phagan Case.

Colonel Thomas B. Felder said Wednesday that Detective William J. Burns had not arrived, as yet, in New York from his European trip, but that as soon as he did he undoubtedly would start at once for Atlanta to work upon the Mary Phagan strangling mystery.

Colonel Felder is acquainted with the day and the hour on which the famous sleuth will reach this city, but for the purposes of the investigation he is withholding the information.

“There was no authority for the statement that Detective Burns would be in New York Tuesday,” said Colonel Felder. “The date of his arrival has been known in my office, but it had not been made public.”

“It is quite likely that the great detective will come quietly and unannounced into the city, make his investigation of the mystery and slip out before many persons are aware from their own knowledge that he has been working on the case.”

In Touch With Burns Agency.

Colonel Felder has been in constant touch with Raymond Burns, son of the detective, who is secretary and treasurer of the Burns Agency, and has offices in New York. The agency is being placed in possession of the important new developments in the mystery as rapidly as they occur. An outline of the whole case will be laid before Burns the instant that he arrives at his New York offices.

That increasing importance is being attached to the notes that were found beside the dead body of Mary Phagan was indicated Wednesday when several handwriting experts were called before Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

An expert testified at the Coroner’s inquest that he notes, in his opinion, were written by Newt Lee, the night watchman at the National Pencil Factory. The expert was corroborated by the unofficial testimony of two other experts.

The Solicitor, however, has not been satisfied with the evidence he had on this important point. Experts were found who disagreed with the conclusions presented to the Coroner’s jury. The writing in the notes found near the body of Mary Phagan, they declared, was much better than the normal writing of Newt Lee.

Difference in the Slant.

The writing showed evidence of education and training which Lee did not possess.

Lee would have had to be under instruction for two or three months, they said, before he could show the improvement that is evident between the test specimen of his handwriting and the handwriting of the notes.

Lee’s normal handwriting shows a decided slant. That of the notes closely approaches the perpendicular.

The final letter in each of the words written by Lee ended abruptly. The final letters in the notes were rounded acrefully [sic], indicating a considerable instruction in penmanship.

A poem said to have been written by Mary Phagan will form one of the specimens of her handwriting which will be compared with the notes found in the basement of the National Pencil Factory. The poem is entitled “My Pa,” and Mary is said by her stepfather, J. W. Coleman, to have been the author.

The poem follows:

My pa ain’t no millyunaire, but, Gee! He’s offul smart!

He ain’t no carpenter, but he can fix a feller’s cart;

He ain’t no doctor, but, you can bet he

Handwriting of Phagan Notes Examined

Solicitor General Dorsey Working on New Clew in the Factory Slaying Mystery.

Continued From Page 1.

allus knows

Just what to do to fix a boy what’s got a bloody nose!

My pa ain’t president becoz, he says, he never run,

But he could do as well as any president has done.

A president may beat my pa at pilin’ up the vote,

But he can’t beat him, I will bet, a-whittlin’ out a boat!

My pa ain’t rich, but that’s becoz he never tried to be;

He ain’t no ‘lectrician, but one day he fixed the telephone for me!

My pa ain’t never wrote a book, but I know he could,

Becoz the stories that he tells to me are allus powerful good!

My pa knows everything, I guess, an’ you bet I don’t care

‘Coz he ain’t president or rich as any millyunaire!

Whenever things go wrong, my pa can make ‘em right, you see;

An’ if he ain’t rich or president, my pa’s good enough for me!

Woman Witness Excited.

Mrs. Mary Barrett, the woman who is said to have been in the factory the Saturday afternoon that Mary Phagan was killed, was in a state of great excitement when she emerged from the office of Solicitor Dorsey Tuesday afternoon.

She had been summoned by the Solicitor to tell of what she saw while she was at the factory. It was evident that she believed her knowledge of the affair had been misrepresented. When she came from the office she declared, dramatically:

“If anyone has told any lies on me in connection with this murder they will certainly suffer for it.”

The daughter of Mrs. Barrett was heard to tell the Solicitor:

“I’ll talk with her to-night, and then maybe she’ll do what you ask.”

Move for Fingerprint Bureau.

The Police Commission at its meeting Tuesday night authorized a thorough investigation into the advisability of establishing a fingerprint identification system in Atlanta. This move was made largely as a result of the mystery that has continued to surround the Phagan case and the possibility that it might have been cleared up within a few days had the city had a fingerprint expert.

There were several distinguishable fingerprints found in the factory basement. Persons who have had experience in detective work believe that they might have developed the most valuable clews in establishing the identity of the criminal.

Chief of Police Beavers told the commission of instances in which fingerprints had fixed the guilt of prisoners when there were no other clews. He was appointed by the commission to work with one of the commissioners in making an investigation into the feasibility of the bureau plan.

* * *

Atlanta Georgian, May 14th 1913, “Secret Hunt by Burns in Mystery is Likely,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Previous post:

Next post: