Stepfather Thinks Negro is Murderer

Stepfather Thinks Negro is MurdererAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, April 29th, 1913

Believes That Newt Lee Bound and Gagged, Then Murdered Mary Phagan

W. J. Coleman, step-father of Mary Phagan, believes that she was murdered by Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, but that before the murder she lay bound and gagged in the factory of the National Pen [sic] company, 37 South Forsyth street, from shortly after noon on Saturday until past midnight.

As people passed back and forth along the street, as members of the girl’s family waited anxiously for her return, he thinks that she lay helpless within the factory, while the negro waited for an opportune time to attack and then murder her.

His belief is that as soon as she had been paid the wages that she went to the factory to collect, she passed into the dressing room, perhaps for a drink of water. There, in his opinion, the negro seized the girl and bound and gagged her. He says there is plain evidence in the dressing room that the girl was first attacked there.

He does not believe that either Arthur Mullinax or J. M. Gant [sic] had any hand in the murder of Mary Phagan.

“The negro evidently kept the child in the factory all day,” Mr. Coleman said, “and was afraid to attack her until midnight for fear she would scream or somebody would come. He may or may not have knocked her senseless from the first, or he may have tied her. I do not know but when Gantt entered the shop, it is more than likely that he knew nothing of the girl’s presence there and simply went up and got his shoes, as he said, and went out again.

“All this about Mary having seen on the street at midnight or at any other time after 12 o’clock in the day I do not think can be true. I believe she remained all day in the building. After the negro did the work he was afraid to leave or not to notify the police, which would make appearances worse for him. Therefore he called the officers.”

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Atlanta Journal, April 29th 1913, “Stepfather Thinks Negro is Murderer,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)