Stains of Blood on Shirt Fresh, Says Dr. Smith

Stains of Blood on Shirt Fresh

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

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

City Bacteriologist Makes His Report After Examination of Garment of Negro Which Was Found in Trash Barrel.


Witness Spent 24 Hours in Same Cell With Phagan Prisoner — Body of Girl Exhumed for Second Time.


Dr. Claude Smith, city bacteriologist, completes examination of negro’s blood-stained shirt, and finds that the blood stains are new.

Body of Mary Phagan was exhumed shortly after noon on Wednesday for the purpose of making a second examination.

Mrs. Mattie Smith, wife of one of the mechanics who were last men to leave pencil factory, tells detectives that shortly before 1 o’clock, when she left the building, she saw strange negro near elevator.

Bill Bailey, negro convict who was placed in cell with Newt Lee for twenty-four hours, now at liberty, and will probably be called upon at inquest today to testify.

Leo Frank will be placed upon the stand again today at 9:30 o’clock, when the coroner’s inquest is resumed.

Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey holds a long conference in cell with Newt Lee, but declines to tell what passed.

Detectives announce they are searching for a Greek, who is now believed to be in Alabama.

Chief Lanford declares that somebody is blocking Phagan investigation, silencing witnesses, and “planting” evidence.

The report of Dr. Claude A. Smith’s analysis of the bloodstains on the shirt found in the home of Newt Lee, who is held in connection with the Mary Phagan murder, has been submitted to the detective department. It reveals that the stains were caused by human blood, not more than a month old.

The report is brief. The examination was thorough, but no comparison was made with the stains on the garment and with other stains. The only specimen possessed by Dr. Smith beside the shirt were small shavings, flecked with blood, which were chipped from the flooring at the spot near the machine, where the girl is supposed to have received her death blow.

Comparison with the stains on the chip were impossible because of the stain’s dimness. Dr. Smith said to a reporter for The Constitution that he had not been given the bloody garments which Mary Phagan wore to use for the purpose of comparisons. The shirt has been returned to police headquarters. It will be used in the inquest today.

When the negro was confronted with the tell-tale garment Tuesday a week ago he admitted to its ownership, but said he could not account for the blood spots. He had not worn it, he declared, for two years. He said it was not bloody when he discarded it in 1911. Lee said he knew no manner in which the stains could have been made.

Shirt Found In Trash Barrel.

The shirt was found by Detectives Scott and Black in the bottom of a barrel filled with trash, which stood in the back yard of Lee’s home on Henry Street. The sleuths never would tell the clew which led them to search for it.

Dr. Smith states that his inspection revealed the fact that the garment was not being worn when the stains were made. It had been used to mop up the blood, he said, and could not possibly have been worn at the time. He could not determine whether or not the blood was that of a white person or a negro.

He will probably be summoned to testify at the inquest.

Mary Phagan’s body was exhumed shortly after noon Wednesday. Profound secrecy surrounds the action and it probably will not be known until the inquest today why the disinterment was made. Dr. H. F. Harris of the state board of health, was the only official at the graveside in the Marietta cemetery when the corpse was unearthed.

Body Exhumed For Last Time.

After an examination lasting two hours the body was again hurled and, according to a responsible report, some organ removed and brought by Dr. Harris to Atlanta. When the body was replaced it was consigned forever to its last resting place. Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Coleman, the dead girl’s parents, objected so strenuously to further exhumations that it will never be removed again.

Until late at night Dr. Harris labored in his laboratory in the state capitol over the examination. He was reached by a reporter shortly after 16 o’clock.

“I am pledged to secrecy,” he said. “It was under the condition that I make public nothing whatever pertaining to the examination that I was selected for the work. I cannot disclose the object of the analysis or its nature until allowed to do so by Solicitor Dorsey.”

Solicitor Dorsey said about 9:30 o’clock that he was not prepared to talk of the exhumation. He admitted, however, requesting Coroner Donehoo and Dr. Harris to remove the body and make certain examinations which he expected to result in new and valuable evidence.

Reliable reports are to the effect that one motive of the disinterment was for the purpose of obtaining some hair from the victim’s head with which to compare the stands found on the lathing machine in the pencil factory.

Another rumor is that a chart was made of the cuts and bruises on the face and body and that photographic plates were made of the finger prints on the throat.

No one outside the solicitor’s staff, Dr. Hurt, Dr. Harris and Coroner Donehoo are aware of the motive for the exhumation. Even Chief Lanford and the Pinkerton men expressed their lack of knowledge. They have not been taken into the confidence of the officials supervising the mysterious move.

His Work Hampered Says Lanford.

Accusing mysterious forces of blocking his detectives, Chief Lanford said Wednesday that the work of investigation is being seriously hampered. In many instances, he declared, his men had been refused evidence which they sought, and had encountered a number of prospective witnesses, who refused to divulge the information it was believed they could give.

“I cannot account for the situation,” he told a reporter for The Constitution. “We are being sorely handicapped. Not only are we being opposed, but, as has been shown many times, evidence is being planted. We have discovered numerous signs of “plants” in the past few days, and are not surprised at any “frame up.”

The chief also hinted that arrests would probably result from the discoveries of planted evidence. A squad of men have been detailed to run down clues pointing to guilty persons. They are finding their task a baffling one.

Although he would say but little, Chief Beavers also hinted of efforts he had met to frustrate the work of the detective department. “It seems that we are being opposed,” he said.

Lee’s Cellmate May Testify.

Imprisoned for twenty-four hours in the same cell with Newt Lee, the nightwatchman suspect in the Mary Phagan mystery, Bill Bailey, an ex-convict, will probably be called to the stand in the coroner’s inquest this morning to testify to certain admissions he is believed to have got from the negro.

Bailey is a negro youth, apparently 20 years old. He served eight years in the Fulton chaingang on a charge of shooting, during which time he was bunkmate of the suspected watchman. Lee was serving sentence at that time on a charge of gambling.

The negroes were intimate friends. Bailey is working with J. Mayo. Several days ago Mr. Mayo brought him to police headquarters and conferred with Chief Lanford on a plan to imprison the two ex-convicts. Monday night Bailey was sent to the Tower and locked in Lee’s cell.

He was released twenty-four hours later. Chief Lanford nor any of his detectives will disclose the result of the scheme, but it is freely rumored around headquarters that the Bailey negro succeeded in obtaining valuable evidence, which he is expected to deliver at the inquest.

Did Negro Write Notes?

After minute examination of the mysterious notes found beside the body on the morning of the discovery, A. M. Richardson, inspector of service with the Adams and Southern Express companies, told a reporter for The Constitution yesterday morning that he was fully convinced that the negro nightwatchman did not write them.

“They were written by a white man,” he said, “and an educated man, at that. The letters are formed too expertly, and adhere too closely to the ruling of the paper on which they were written. In my opinion, they were written by the murderer, a shrewd man, with intention of reflecting guilt upon an illiterate negro.”

Mr. Richardson has made a lifetime study of handwriting. He is thoroughly acquainted with detective methods and operations, and has taken decided interest in the Phagan mystery. Most of his investigation in the case has been concentrated upon the notes. He hopes to trace their origin by means of comparing suspected script under strong microscopic examination.

New Witnesses Summoned.

Another new witness summoned yesterday for the inquest this morning was Miss Grace Hicks, of 100 McDonough road, an intimate acquaintance of the murdered girl, and the woman who identified the body before it had been removed from the cellar of the pencil factory.

The sleuths will not disclose the character of the testimony she will be expected to render. She stated to reporters, however, that she held out little evidence, and that the last time she saw the girl of tragedy alive, was on the Monday preceding her death, when she left the pencil plant.

Miss Hicks was quizzed for an hour Wednesday morning in the office of Chief Lanford. She operated a tipping machine adjoining the machine operated by the Phagan girl. She came at 6 o’clock Sunday morning in answer to summons to the factory building. The moment the tragic face of the slain girl was revealed in the dim, flickering light of the watchman’s lantern, she exclaimed:

“That’s Mary Phagan—Oh, my God!” falling into a swoon in the arms of her brother-in-law, Boots Rogers.

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Atlanta Constitution, May 8th 1913, “Stains of Blood on Shirt Fresh, Says Dr. Smith,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)