Writ Sought In Move to Free Negro Lee

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, July 3, 1913

Attorney for Watchman Declares Client Knows Nothing of the Actual Crime.

Bernard L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the pencile [sic] factory, held in the Phagan case, stated Thursday morning that he would swear out a writ of habeas corpus for the release of the negro.

Attorney Chappell stated that he had come to the conclusion that there was nothing the negro knew about the crime except finding the body, and that the State had no right to keep him without some charge or as a material witness.

Lee was the first suspect arrested in connection with Mary Phagan’s murder. He was ordered held by the Coroner, but when a bill of indictment was offered the Grand Jury at the same time of the Frank indictment, no action was taken against the negro.

Weak Spots in Conley Tale.

Chappell said the writ of habeas corpus would compel the State either to order the negro held as a material witness or make some charge against him.

Conley, in relating his dramatic tale of carrying the body of Mary Phagan from the rear of the second floor and disposing of it at the direction of Frank in a dark corner of the gloomy basement, said that when he reached the elevator he had to wait until Frank went into his office for a key to the elevator door.

The defense will maintain, it is understood, that the elevator door had not been locked for some time. Witnesses will be called to testify that the door had remained unlocked in accordance with instructions from the firms with which the building was insured. From this alleged circumstance, it will be argued that the negro’s story is a fabrication devised to shield himself from the charge of murder and to shift the responsibility onto another man.

Continue Reading →

Bitter Fight Certain in Trial of Frank


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

Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, June 3rd, 1913

Defense Prepares to Show Glaring Discrepancies in Affidavit of James Conley.

[Minola McKnight, the negro cook at Frank’s home, made a written statement Tuesday afternoon to the police following a cross-examination lasting more than an hour at the police station.

The woman was questioned by E. H. Pickett and Roy L. Craven, both of whom are employed at the hardware store of Beck & Gregg. While the bearing of her statement on the Phagan case was not revealed, it is generally thought to relate to the actions of Frank and other inmates of his household on the morning following the murder.

She is believed to have stuck to her story that Frank was home at 1:30, which is one link in the alibi chain the defense is forging.

That Louise H. Beck, foreman of the Grand Jury which indicted Frank, is a co-partner in the establishment with which Pickett and Craven, the questioners of the negro woman, are employed is believed to lend much significance to the cross-examination by the two men. This connection, however, was not made public.

The cook was later released after her statement had been taken, and with her husband left for her Pulliam street home. It was said that she might be called as a witness in the trial of Frank. Much as the detectives attempted to shroud her evidence in mystery, all the indications were that she had not materially changed her statement in favor of Frank. She was released on an agreement with her counsel, George Gordon. — added from a later edition of the Georgian — Ed.]

“Developments of a startling nature may be expected from day to day in the Phagan case,” said Chief of Detectives Lanford Tuesday morning. “They may be expected right up to the date that the trial of Leo Frank begins.

“That we feel we practically have a conclusive case against the factory superintendent does not mean that we are resting in our labors to the slightest extent. We are a little more at rest in our minds, that is all.

“The detectives are working constantly on new clews that present themselves and are investigating every story that is heard, whether it is told by a witness favorable to Frank or against him. We wish to go into court prepared to establish our case against Frank so that not a doubt of his guilt will be possible. That is, of course, if it still appears at that time as certain to us that he is the guilty man as it does now.”

With the continued activity of the detectives, it has become noticeable in the last few days that the defense is at work on its case. Both sides are preparing for a titanic battle when Frank is put on trial for his life the third week in this month. Frank’s cook is still held at police headquarters.

To Cite Time Differences.

Differences in the time given by Jim Conley in his affidavit and the testimony of Coroner’s jury witnesses will be pointed out in the defense of Leo M. Frank against the charge of killing little Mary Phagan, it was revealed Tuesday. They will be used as indications of the superintendent’s innocence because of their many seeming deviations from fact.

One of the most glaring was the negro’s declaration that while he was in Frank’s office to write the notes Miss Corinthia Hall and Mrs. Emma Clark entered. Conley said that this was 1 o’clock or a few minutes after. But Miss Hall had left the building more than an hour before, according to her own testimony before the Coroner’s jury. Continue Reading →

Conley Says Frank Took Him to Plant on Day of Slaying

Conley Says

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, May 28th, 1913

Negro Sweeper in New Affidavit Denies His Former Testimony and Makes Startling Assertions; Now Declares He Wrote Notes Saturday.

James Conley, negro sweeper, in an affidavit made Wednesday, said that he was lying when he said he went to the National Pencil Factory on Friday. He said that he made the statement that it was Friday when Frank (as he says) told him to write the death notes, because he was afraid he would be accused of the murder of Mary Phagan if he told the truth.

He said he felt that if he said he was there Saturday the police would connect him with the murder. Conley said he got up between 9 and 9:30 o’clock Saturday morning, he knew the time because he looked at the clock on the Atlanta University from his front door. He returned indoors and had breakfast.

He got three silver dollars from his wife to exchange for paper money so that she would not lose it. He continued: Continue Reading →

Col. Felder Ridicules Idea of Grand Jury Investigation of City Detectives’ Charges


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

Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, May 27th, 1913

Declares Chief Beavers Is Only Bluffing, and That if All the Allegations Made by the Police Were True, It Wouldn’t Be a Case for the Grand Jury, as He Has Violated No Law in Seeking Evidence of Corruption In Police Department


He Expects the Solicitor’s Co-operation — James Conley Is Identified by Mrs. Arthur White as the Negro She Saw Lurking Near the Elevator of the Pencil Factory on Day of the Tragedy—“This Is H— of a Family Row and No Place for a Stranger,” Says Tobie

Colonel Thomas B. Felder Tuesday ridiculed the statement of Police Chief James L. Beavers that he would insist upon the grand jury making a searching investigation of the charges against Colonel Felder and also the countercharges published by the latter against the police and detective departments.

Colonel Felder appeared to be very much amused while discussing Chief Beavers’ declaration, which he branded as bluff and bluster. “I don’t believe Beavers has the least idea of going b[e]fore the grand jury,” he said, “but even should he do so there is nothing for the grand jury t[o] consider.

“If all the charges which the police and detectives have made against me were true no law has been violated. I have a perfect right to seek truthful evidence from whatever source I may choose.

“If the grand jury cares to investigate my charges against the police and detective departments I will have no hesitancy in supplying it with a list of the disorderly houses and gambling places which are operated in Atlanta without police interference, and an amazingly long list it will be, too.

“Why, there are more houses of an immoral character in the territory between the Baptist Tabernacle and the governor’s mansion than ever existed in the old segregated district, and places of this kind are scattered throughout the city, no section being immune from them. Continue Reading →

Superintendent Frank is Once More Put on Witness Stand

Superintendent Frank is Once More Put on Witness Stand

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Leo M. Frank general superintendent of the National Pencil factory, was recalled to the stand. He was questioned regarding the elevator. The coroner wanted to know what kind of a door there is to the shaft on the office floor. The witness replied that it is a heavy door solid, that slides up and down.

“Where was the elevator on Saturday, April 26?” he was asked.

“I didn’t notice.”

“Where was it on Friday night?”

“I didn’t notice.”

“Was the door open on Saturday?”

“I didn’t notice.”

Asked whether it would not be possible for some one to fall into the elevator shaft if the door was open, he replied that there is a bar across the door.

“Where was the elevator after the murder?”

“I can only say it was at the office floor on Sunday morning,” replied the witness.

The coroner reverted to the time-clock. “What time did you take the slip out of the clock?” he asked. Continue Reading →

Mr. Frank’s Treatment of Girls Unimpeachable, Says Miss Hall

Mr. Frank's Treatment of Girls

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

Miss Corinthia Hall, an employe in the factory, was the first of the young women employed there to testify before the coroner from their viewpoint regarding Mr. Frank’s attitude and demeanor toward them.

She declared his conduct toward the young women in the factory to be irreproachable.

She works in the varnish department on the fourth floor of the pencil factory, and lives at 19 Waverly street, Kirkwood, she told the coroner. She has been working at the factory about three years, she said.

About 11:45 o’clock on the morning of April 26, she said, she left the pencil factory. She had been there for about ten minutes with Mrs. Emma Freeman, a bride of a day, formerly employed there, to get Mrs. Freeman’s coat. She remembered looking at the clock as they went out. She and Mrs. Freeman spoke to Mr. Frank. He asked Mrs. Freeman, “How’s the bride?” Continue Reading →

Frank’s Testimony Fails to Lift Veil of Mystery

Frank's Testimony Fails to Lift Veil of Mystery

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

Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, May 6th, 1913

Factory Superintendent’s Statements on the Witness Stand Considered Distinctly Favorable to Him.

Leo M. Frank’s testimony before the Coroner’s inquest threw no new light upon the Phagan case. Indeed, if it did anything it strengthend the belief in the minds of many persons that the mystery is far from solved.

Frank’s testimony was distinctly favorable to him. He was on the witness stand for several hours. He answered every question in a straight-forward manner. He was not more nervous than any other man in the room. He never halted for a word to make reply. The impression made upon those present was good.

The bringing into the case of another man not heretofore mentioned as having been in the factory on the day of Mary Phagan’s death does not seem to have in any way helped to clear the mystery.

Quinn Talks Freely.

Lemmie Quinn, foreman, whose name was mentioned by Frank, apparently had nothing to conceal either, for her talked with the detectives and police without reserve, and gave a clear statement of his work in the factory. His testimony did more, if anything, than the testimony of any other person to shift the suspicion that has been attached to Frank. Continue Reading →

Slayer of Mary Phagan May Still be at Large

Slayer of Mary Phagan May Still Be At Large

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

Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, May 4th, 1913

The mystery of the death of pretty Mary Phagan enters upon its second week to-day with the police authorities admitting that they are still without a conclusive solution. So far as the public has been permitted to learn, the detectives are not even certain that they have in custody the person or persons responsible for her death.

In the light of present developments, the police believe that no more arrests will be made, but they admit that the entrance of another theory might entirely change the aspect of the case. The detectives base their present belief that they have the guilty man or men on the well-supported theory that Mary Phagan never left the National Pencil factory from the time she received her pay envelope on Saturday noon until her lifeless body was taken from the basement of the building.

If this police supposition is correct, guilt can rest only on one or more of the men who were in the building after noon on the day of the tragedy. The police officers have been able to learn only five who were in the factory Saturday afternoon or night, most of the employees being absent because of the Memorial Day parade. Continue Reading →