Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 6th, 1913
Sweeper’s Grilling Ends After 151/2 Hours, His Main Story Unshaken
MYSTERY OF GIRL’S MESH BAG EXPLAINED BY NEGRO ON STAND
That Mary Phagan’s silver-plated mesh bag, mysteriously missing since the girl’s bruised and lifeless body was found the morning of April 27, was in Leo Frank’s office a few minutes after the attack and later was placed in the safe in Frank’s office was the startling statement made by the negro Conley Wednesday in the course of his re-direct examination by Solicitor Dorsey. At 11:10 the negro left the stand after being questioned for fifteen and one half hours.
This testimony was the sensation of the forenoon. Throughout the more than three months of the murder mystery an unavailing search was made for the mesh bag, the city and Pinkerton detectives being convinced that the finding of the bag would go a long distance toward pointing out the person guilty of the Phagan girl’s murder.
“Did you ever see a silver mesh bag that Mary Phagan carried?” inquired the Solicitor.
“Yes, sah,” replied Conley. “I see it right on Mr. Frank’s desk when I went in there.”
“What became of the mesh bag?” continued Dorsey.
“He went and put it in his safe,” the negro said.
First Word of Mysterious Bag.
It was the first information, authentic or otherwise, that had come to light regarding the disposal of the mesh bag. The homes of Newt Lee and Jim Conley had been searched high and low for the bag or any other clew to the perpetrator of the crime. Except for a vague rumor that a mesh bag had been found by a negro in a shop on Decatur street, a story which later was found to have no connection with the Phagan mystery, not the slightest clew ever was discovered to the whereabouts of the bag which so strangely had disappeared.
Attorney Rosser’s manner was angry and threatening when he arose for the re-cross examination. He began at once a vicious attack on Conley’s story of the mesh bag. He asked when Conley first told this remarkable tale. Conley said he couldn’t remember.
“Why didn’t you tell all this when you were telling ‘the whole truth’ to the detectives?” Rosser shouted.
The attorney apparently sought to create the impression that the mesh bag story was an afterthought and that it was manufactured by the negro when he heard of the search the detectives were making for the bag.Continue Reading →