Solicitor Dorsey is Working New Theory in Phagan Mystery

Solicitor Dorsey is Working New Theory in Phagan Mystery

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

Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, May 13th, 1913

He Will Not Disclose Its Nature, but He, Lanford and Beavers Declare No Arrests Are Contemplated


But Says He Knows Nothing of Effort to Bring Him Here, Miss Ross, a New Witness, Talks With Dorsey

A new theory about the mysterious murder of Mary Phagan has been presented to Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey in such a convincing manner by an unknown criminologist that the chief prosecuting officer of Fulton county has turned the Phagan investigation towards working out the new idea.

While Mr. Dorsey states that there is yet nothing very tangible about the theory, it is evident that the official considers the theory as well worth investigating.

Mr. Dorsey refuses to divulge the nature of the new theory or tell who first advanced it. In discussing the matter, however, he made the following very significant statement:

“We are not bottled up by any one theory—we have not concluded, and we are open to the truth.”

The new theory, should it prove correct, would eliminate Leo M. Frank and Newt Lee, the two men ordered held by the coroner’s jury, it is said.

The solicitor declares that he knows of no contemplated new arrest in the Phagan investigation. It is possible, he said, that the detectives might be planning to take some person, whose name has not hitherto been connected with the investigation, into custody, but if this is the case, he says that he knows nothing about it.

Both Chief of Detectives Newport Lanford and Chief of Police J. L. Beavers deny that they know of a new arrest is contemplated.


That the Phagan investigation is dragging is shown by the statement of the solicitor general Tuesday that he did not think the matter would be presented to the Fulton county grand jury this week.

He said that he did not think that the case would be taken by the jury this week, when asked if the matter would be presented to the jurors next week. While he would say nothing more, his answer to the question is taken as an intimation that, unless the grand jury itself asks that the probe be hastened, it may be two more weeks before an effort is made to indict the two men now held in the tower or any persons who may subsequently be drawn into the next of circumstantial evidence.

Relative to the effort of Attorney Thomas B. Felder to induce William J. Burns, the famous detective, to take up the Phagan investigation, Mr. Dorsey said that he would be glad to see Mr. Burns on the case.

He knows nothing about the probability of Mr. Burns coming to Atlanta; however, he says that Mr. Felder has not consulted with him about the Mary Phagan case.

While Mr. Dorsey says that he saw two men at one time connected with the Burns agency here at the scene of the murder he does not know that they have done any active work on the case up to the present. The head of the local Burns agency was in Mr. Dorsey’s office Tuesday, but he and the solicitor both stated that he had not called in connection with the Phagan matter.

Mr. Felder seemed very hopeful Tuesday that Burns would come in person to take up the investigation of the murder mystery, but stated that he would know nothing definite for several days. Mr. Felder still refuses to disclose the names of the parties who are said to have employed him to prosecute anyone who might be indicted for the Phagan killing.


The examination of witnesses at the solicitor general’s office continued Tuesday morning, and one of the persons subpened [sic] to the office, whose name has not hitherto been connected with the case, was a Miss Ross. The young lady herself would not tell what she knew of the case and the solicitor’s force would not discuss the nature of the evidence which is expected to give. Allan Woodward, a negro who heard screams seemingly emenating [sic] from the pencil company’s factory at 11:30 o’clock on the night of Saturday, April 26, and the wife of the negro, Newt Lee, were among those examined.

The solicitor held a conference during the morning with Chief Lanford.

Mrs. Rudolph Frank, of 152 Underhill avenue, Brooklyn, mother of Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, who is held in connection with the Phagan investigation, will probably come to Atlanta in a short time to be near her son, according to dispatches from New York.

Expecting that he would be quickly released, Mrs. Frank has kept the news of her son’s arrest from her intimate friends until recently.

Mrs. Frank deplores the circumstances which have resulted in her son’s arrest, and expresses her firm belief in his complete innocence of any knowledge of the crime.

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Atlanta Journal, May 13th 1913, “Solicitor Dorsey is Working New Theory in Phagan Mystery,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)