Frank Wanted Gun to Take His Life, Says Negro Cook

frank-wanted-gunAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Sensational Affidavit Made for the Police by Minola McKnight, Servant in Leo Frank’s Home.

Fully as startling as the recent confession of James Conley, an affidavit purporting to have been sworn to by Minola McKnight, the servant girl of the Frank household, was given out to the newspapers yesterday afternoon by Chief Lanford. The detectives assert it is the “final straw” in the mass of evidence they boast of having accumulated.

Attesting to a statement that Frank was nervous and excited on the tragedy night, the negress swears Mrs. Frank told of having to sleep on a rug in the bedroom and of her suspicion that her husband was drunk. The servant girl also declares that Mrs. Frank had stated that Frank asked for a gun with which to kill himself, and that he asked, “Why could I be guilty of murder?”

The affidavit further states that Frank arrived home on the crime date about 1:30 o’clock in the afternoon, and, without eating dinner, left within less than ten minutes. He returned at 7 o’clock at night, the negress swears. Also, she declares that her name was attached to the document of her own free will and accord, and that she was not threatened or persuaded in any form.

Stands Sponsor for Woman.

She was released from prison on an agreement between her counsel, George Gordon, and Chief Lanford. Gordon offered to produce her at the trial, the detective chief declares, if she would be given freedom, and would stand sponsor for her presence. As long as she reports daily to police headquarters and shows no inclination to leave, Lanford says, she will not be molested. Otherwise, she will be returned to prison and held until the courts take up the case.

Attorney William M. Smith, counsel for James Conley, the negro sweeper, was asked Wednesday afternoon if he had formulated the line of defense to be presented by his client in case Conley was accused by Frank’s defense of the murder, as is the present outlook. He answered:

“Conley will need no defense. By the time he is accused, if he is, Frank will have been convicted of the crime.”

It was announced from Solicitor Dorsey’s office Wednesday that he Phagan case will go before the courts during the week of June 30 instead of the 23d, as has been predicted. No definite decision has been reached, however. It is understood that Dorsey will be ready for the prosecution at the later date, and that unless there are reasons for delay on the part of the defense, the case will proceed expeditiously. Continue Reading →

Frank’s Cook Was Counted Upon as Defense Witness

franks-cook-was-counted

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

While police activities have been turned to this line of investigation, the negro sweeper, Jim Conley, has been given a rest. Chief of Detectives Lanford stated that the negro would be quizzed no more.

Cook Counted on by Defense.

“If he has not told the whole truth,” said the Chief, “he will send for me within the next few days, I believe.”

The cook is one of the five witnesses upon whom the defense has relied to prove that Frank returned home for luncheon at 1:20 o’clock the Saturday afternoon of the murder and that he therefore could not have been in the office dictating the notes at the time James Conley, the negro sweeper, set in his affidavit.

Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig and Mrs. Frank will be three of the other witnesses called by the defense to prove the time Frank arrived home from the factory on the fatal day. An acquaintance will tell of seeing Frank on the street car that day, and another will relate riding back to town with Frank.

The detectives attached the greatest importance to her affidavit. In the hope of breaking her down, Ernest H. Pickett, of 295 Rawson Street, and Roy L. Craven, 11 Campbell Street, both employees at the Beck & Gregg hardware store, were sent into the room with her to fire questions at her.

Albert McKnight, husband of Minola, also works for the Beck & Gregg concern, and is said to have told Pickett and Craven that his wife had confided to him that Frank did not arrive home at the time he testified before the Coroner’s jury. The two men informed the officers of McKnight’s statement, and as a result the woman was arrested. She was taken first before Solicitor Dorsey, where she hysterically denied that she ever had made such remarks to her husband. She declared that she had a “fuss” with her husband, and that he was taking this means to get her into trouble.

Alibi Big Obstacle.

Unless the State is able to break down the alibis furnished by Frank in the manner attempted on the McKnight woman, the factory superintendent’s movements will be accounted for practically every moment on the day of the tragedy.

Mary Phagan entered the factory at about 12:05 in the afternoon. It is to be presumed that it was about 12:10 by the time he had received her pay envelope and had made the inquiries about the metal. Five minutes later Lemmie Quinn cam in the building. He went to the second floor, walked into the office and talked to Frank. The circumstance, the defense will be able to maintain precludes the possibility that Frank could have committed the crime up to this time. Mary Phagan was not in the office at the time and the natural presumption would be that he had left and had gone downstairs. Continue Reading →

Sensational Affidavit Made by Minola M’Knight, Negro Cook at Home of L. M. Frank

sensational-affidavit

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

Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

In This Affidavit Minola Tells of Conversation That Occurred Between Mrs. Frank and Mrs. Selig, In Which Mrs. Frank Is Alleged to Have Said Frank Was Drinking on Night of Tragedy, and That He Wanted a Pistol to Kill Himself

MRS. FRANK SAID, SO NEGRO COOK SWEARS, THAT FRANK MADE HER SLEEP ON THE FLOOR THAT NIGHT

Negro Says Further That Frank Came Home at 1:30 o’Clock on Fatal Saturday, but Remained Only About Ten Minutes, and That He Left Without Eating His Dinner—Affidavit Is Vague and Confused—It Is Given Here In Full

An affidavit, sworn to by Minola McKnight, the negro servant at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, where Leo M. Frank and his wife live, was made public by Chief of Detectives N. A. Lanford Wednesday afternoon. In the affidavit Minola McKnight tells of alleged conversations at the Selig home in which Mrs. Frank is quoted as having said that Frank was drunk on Saturday night, April 26, and that he made her sleep on a rug. The negro quotes Mrs. Frank further as saying that Mr. Frank couldn’t understand how he could be guilty of murder, and that Frank had begged her for a pistol that he might shoot himself.

The negro says in her affidavit that she has been kindly treated and gives this as the reason for not having made her statement sooner. She swears that the affidavit is made of her own free will.

The affidavit is nearly all hearsay evidence, and therefore inadmissible in court.

The affidavit follows in full: Continue Reading →

Attorney Retained for Negro Servant at Frank’s Home

attorney-retainedAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, June 3rd, 1913

George Gordon Represents Minola McKnight as Attorney and May Seek Habeas Corpus During Afternoon

NEGRESS DECLARES HER HUSBAND HAS LIED

She Swears Leo M. Frank Was at Home at Time He Testified Before the Coroner’s Inquest

It became known Tuesday morning that Attorney George Gordon had been retained to represent Minola McKnight, the negro cook employed by Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, parents-in-law of Leo M. Frank, held for the murder of Mary Phagan.

Who employed the lawyer could not be learned, but the fact remains that Mr. Gordon is representing the negress, whose arrest Monday by city detectives, followed a questioning by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

It is also understood on good authority that Mr. Gordon is seriously considering the matter of seeking a writ of habeas corpus for the McKnight woman and further developments along this line are expected during the afternoon.

WOMAN QUESTIONED.

Shortly after noon Tuesday the McKnight woman was taken from her cell on the first floor at police headquarters by Detectives tSarnes [sic] and Sampbell [sic], who led her to a private room adjoining the detective department on the third floor. Two unknown white men and a negro man, supposed to be the woman’s husband, were left alone with her for about an hour and a half, when the detectives were called in.

After talking with the woman for a few minutes Detective Starnes came out of the room, gathered up a pen, ink and paper and went back. It is presumed that she has made some kind of a statement which the detectives consider significant and which they desire to take down in the form of an affidavit.

Attorney George Gordon was outside in the detective department for a portion of the time the woman was being questioned.

The hysteria which marked her demeanor when she first was arrested, has subsided, and Minola McKnight, the negro cook for Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, of 68 East Georgia avenue, home of Leo M. Frank, still sticks to the story she hysterically shouted throughout police headquarters Monday afternoon.

The negress was arrested at the Selig residence shortly after noon Monday upon the order of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

She was carried to the solicitor’s office and that official with Detectives Campbell and Starnes examined her for more than an hour. The woman grew hysterical during the vigorous examination, and finally was led from the solicitor’s office to the police patrol, weeping and shouting: “I am going to hang and don’t know a thing about it.”

Later it developed that [t]he woman’s husband, Albert McKnight, had been in the room with the officers. Continue Reading →