The Phagan Case Day by Day

The Phagan Case Day by DayAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Monday, May 12th, 1913

The history of the baffling Phagan mystery, daily recorded, is briefly as follows:

Sunday April 26—Girl’s body found in basement of pencil factory. Newt Lee, negro night watchman, who made discovery, arrested. Arthur Mullinax, street car employee, also arrested. Both held on suspicion.

Monday—Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, detained, but later released. J. M. Gantt, former bookkeeper of pencil concern and friend of dead girl, arrested in Marietta. Negro elevator boy also taken into custody. Pinkertons enter case.

Tuesday—Bloody shirt found at negro watchman’s home. Planted evidence theory advanced. Mary Phagan’s body buried. Sleuths announce they have evidence to convict. Frank confers with negro suspect.

Wednesday—Inquest begins. Newt Lee testifies. One hundred and fifty pencil factory employees summoned before coroner. George Epps, newsboy, tells of ride to uptown with Mary Phagan on her last trip.

Thursday—Frank and Lee ordered to Fulton tower on warrants issued by Coroner Donehoo. Trip made without incident. Continue Reading →

Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor

Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor

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

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Names of Witnesses Withheld by Dorsey to Prevent “Manufacturers of Public Opinion” Getting in Touch with Them—Satisfied with Progress.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey declared Saturday afternoon that he was very well satisfied with the progress made in the investigation of the Phagan murder mystery and made the significant remark that he would not reveal the names of new witnesses so that manufacturers of public opinion could not get to them.

The Solicitor held a conference with Dr. H. F. Harris, of the State Board of Health, who examined the girl’s body. Dr. Harris said he would rush his report in time for presentation to the Grand Jury when that body takes up the mystery next week. The Solicitor would not reveal just what the physician has learned so far.

The examination of the bloodstained shirt in the back yard of Newt Lee’s home was also continued, and the Solicitor was far from convinced that its significance had been rightly determined.

Mr. Dorsey worked all day Saturday on the case and announced that he would continue all of Sunday so that he could present his evidence to the Grand Jury as early as possible next week.

Confers With City Sleuths

A conference was held with the city detectives, who are working in co-operation with the State, but none of the details could be learned. Strict secrecy is being maintained regarding new developments. Continue Reading →

Detective Harry Scott’s Testimony as Given Before Coroner’s Jury

Detective Harry Scott's Testimony as Given Before

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

An unexpected turn was given to the coroner’s inquest into the mysterious murder of Mary Phagan, Thursday afternoon, when Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective who has been representing that agency in its work on the case, was called to the stand by the coroner. Mr. Scott was in the room at the moment.

One new detail that he revealed was in a reply to a direct question from the coroner, when he stated that Herbert Haas, attorney for Leo M. Frank and attorney for the National Pencil factory, requested him and superintendent of the Pinkerton agency in Atlanta to withheld [sic] from the police all evidence they gathered until he, Mr. Haas, would consider it.

Their reply, said Mr. Scott, was that they would withdraw from the case before they would do that.

He proceeded to say that he and his firm still are retained by the pencil company.

Mr. Scott was called to the stand when Assistant Superintendent Schiff, of the pencil factory, left it. Continue Reading →

Frank and Lee Ordered Held by Coroner’s Jury for Mary Phagan Murder

Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, who, with Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, was held for the grand jury.

Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, who, with Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, was held for the grand jury.

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

Atlanta Constitution

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Sensational Statements Made at Inquest by Two Women, One of Whom Had Been an Employee, Who Declared That Frank Had Been Guilty of Improper Conduct Toward His Feminine Employees and Had Made Proposals to Them in the Factory.

EVIDENCE IN BAFFLING MYSTERY THUS FAR, IS CIRCUMSTANTIAL, IS ADMISSION MADE BY DETECTIVES

Frank and Lee Both Go on Stand Again and Are Closely Questioned in Regard to New Lines of Evidence and Forced to Reiterate Testimony Formerly Made to Coroner’s Jury. They Will Remain in Jail Pending Action of the Grand Jury.

Leo. M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, suspects in the Mary Phagan murder, were ordered by the coroner’s jury to be held under charges of murder for further investigation by the Fulton grand jury.

With this verdict the inquest closed at 6:28 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Frank and the negro will be held in the Tower until action is taken by the grand jury and solicitor general. The decision was reached within twenty minutes after the jury had retired.

Although much important testimony was delivered at the inquest, probably the most significant was the admission made by Detective Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons, and Detective John Black, of headquarters, both of whom declared in answer to questions that they so far had obtained no conclusive evidence or clues in the baffling mystery, and that their only success had been attained in the forging of a chain of circumstantial evidence. Continue Reading →

Newt Lee Tells of the Talk He Had in the Popice [sic] Station

Newt Lee Tells of the Talk He Had in the Police Station

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, was recalled and asked to tell about any conversation he had with Mr. Frank at the jail or the police station. Lee said he has not talked to Mr. Frank at the jail, but that he had talked with him at the police station.

Mr. Frank came into the room, where he was, Lee said, and asked, “How are you feeling, Newt?”

“Not so good, Mr. Frank?” Lee said was his answer.

Lee said that he then told Mr. Frank that it was mighty hard on him “an innocent man” to be handcuffed there in the chair, and that Mr. Frank told him he knew he (Lee) was innocent, but he believed he knew something about the murder.

Lee said that he then told Mr. Frank that the officers had said the girl was killed on the second floor; that he said in his rounds of the building he had to pass through the second floor room, which had been indicated, every half hour and that he would have known it if the murder had been committed there.

Lee said that Mr. Frank then said: “Let’s don’t talk about that. Let that go.”

Lee said that the furnace had been fired on Friday, but that it had not been fired on Saturday. He went to work shortly before 4 o’clock, Saturday afternoon and called to Mr. Frank, as usual, “All right, Mr. Frank.” Continue Reading →

Detective John Black Tell[s] the Jury His Views on the Phagan Case

Detective John Black Tell the Jury His Views on the Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Detective John Black followed Detective Scott on the stand. He was questioned about the finding of the bloody shirt at Newt Lee’s home. He said that on the Tuesday afternoon after the murder he went with Detective Fred Bullard to Newt Lee’s house at 40 Henry street.

They searched the premises, he said, and found the bloody shirt in a clothes barrel in Lee’s room. The shirt was near the bottom of the barrel and was covered with scraps of old clothes, he said, the barrel apparently being used as a dumping place for old garments.

Asked whether he had seen the shirt that Lee had worn the Sunday morning the Phagan child’s body was discovered, Detective Black said it was not the same shirt that was found in the barrel. The shirt found at Lee’s house had apparently been washed but not [rest of sentence cut off—Ed.]

Juror Langford at this point asked Detective Black, “Have you discovered any positive information as to who committed this murder?”

Detective Black replied, “Do you mean positive information? No, sir, I have not.” Continue Reading →

Black Testifies Quinn Denied Visiting Factory

Black Testifies Quinn Denied Visiting Factory

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

John Black, city detective, followed Scott.

Q. Tell about the shirt.—A. Sergeant Bullard and I went out to the rear of 40 Henry Street and searched Newt Lee’s room.

Q. What did you find?—A. Lots of things.

Q. Tell about finding the shirt?—A. We found it in the bottom of an old barrel.

Q. Was the shirt on the top or in the bottom of the barrel?—A. In the bottom.

Q. When was this?—A. On Wednesday after the murder.

Q. Did you see the shirt Lee wore Sunday morning?—A. Yes. Continue Reading →

Stains on Shirt Were Not Made While Shirt Was Being Worn

Stains on Shirt Were Not Made While Shirt Was Being Worn

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

A number of new witnesses had been summoned for the inquest, and the indications were said to be that the session (promised as final in the coroner’s investigation) might last all day.

It became known, before the inquest convened, that several witnesses whom the detectives have discovered would not be introduced there at all. The evidence that they can furnish, whatever it may be, will not become public until some later time, it was said.

It was stated further Thursday morning that the report by Dr. Claude A. Smith, city bacteriologist, upon the analysis by him of stains upon the shirt supposed to have been found at the house of Newt Lee, the negro, had been mailed to Chief of Police Beavers late Wednesday afternoon. The report set forth, it was said, that the stains are not old, and that probably they are stains of human blood. Continue Reading →

Pinkerton Detective Tells of Call From Factory Head

Pinkerton Detective Tells of Call

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective who has been working on the case since the day of the crime, took the stand when Schiff concluded his testimony.

Scott testified that Frank called him up Sunday afternoon before there was any talk of his arrest and asked the Pinkertons to begin work on the case and find the slayer.

Scott testified as follows:

Q. How are you interested in the Phagan case?—A. I was retained by the National Pencil Company to find the guilty man.

Q. Who retained you?—A. I received a call from Mr. Frank and he told me what he knew about the case.

Q. Where did Frank talk to you?—A. Mr. Frank, Mr. Dalley, Mr. Schiff and I went into the private office.

Q. What did Frank say?—A. He said: “I guess you have read of the crime. We feel an interest in the matter and desire to retain the Pinkertons and try to locate the murderer.” Continue Reading →

Lee Repeats His Private Conversation With Frank

Lee Repeats His Private Conversation with Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

Newt Lee followed Black on the stand.

Q. Tell the jury of your conversation with Frank in private—A. I was in the room and he came in. I said, Mr. Frank, it is mighty hard to be sitting here handcuffed. He said he thought I was innocent, and I said I didn’t know anything except finding the body. “Yes,” Mr. Frank said, “and you keep that up we will both go to hell!” I told him that if she had been killed in the basement I would have known it, and he said, “Don’t let’s talk about that—let that go!”

Frank has declared that he was instructed by the detectives just what to say to Lee in the effort to open his mouth, and said it.

Q. Was the furnace running Saturday night?—A. It was fired up.

Q. Did you say anything about sleeping?—A. Yes, sir. I came to the factory and Mr. Frank came out of his door and rubbed his hands and said he was sorry he had me come so early, when I might have been sleeping. I said I needed sleep. Continue Reading →

Crowds at Phagan Inquest

Crowds at Phagan Inquest

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

Grand Jury Instructed to Probe Deeply

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, May 5th, 1913

Evidence Secured by Detectives May Not Be Presented at Coroner’s Inquest—Lee and Frank to Testify. Many Other Witnesses Are Ready.

The Phagan inquest began at 2 o’clock Monday afternoon at police headquarters.

There was a great throng of witnesses in attendance.

A large force of police was on hand to keep the crowd of curiosity seekers in order.

Frank and Lee were taken from the Tower to police headquarters in charge of Deputy Sheriff Minor. A small crowd congregated about the jail in anticipation of the transfer and another crowd even larger was in front of headquarters when the two prisoners were brought in.

There was no demonstration, and the brief trip was made without event. Continue Reading →

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.

LEE’S CELLMATE MAY TESTIFY AT INQUEST

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

DAY’S DEVELOPMENTS IN PHAGAN MYSTERY

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. Continue Reading →

Confirms Lee’s Story of Shirt

Confirms Lee's Story of ShirtAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, April 30th, 1913

Negro Woman Says Man Accused of Phagan Crime Was Not Home Saturday Night.

If Newt Lee, the watchman, went home on Saturday night and discarded a bloody, stained shirt, Lorena Townes, the negro woman with whom he boarded, knows it. Lorena says Lee was not home on Saturday night.

Detectives found the blood-stained shirt in an old barrel in Lee’s room, and around this point has been built the theory that after committing the crime the man went home, changed his shirt, returned to the factory and then telephoned the police. Supporting this belief are the alleged omissions in Lee’s time clock checks during the night.

Lee lived in a little back room at 46 Henry Street; Lorena Townes sleeps in the front room opening on the porch. There is no hallway. There is a side door to Lee’s room, but it is always locked from the inside, according to Corinne Holsey, who lives in the other half of the house. Continue Reading →

Employe of Lunch Stand Near Pencil Factory is Trailed to Alabama

Employe of Lunch Stand Near Pencil Factory isAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, May 7th, 1913

Detectives Figure Strangling Was a Typical Mediterranean Crime—Solicitor Dorsey Grills Watchman Lee in Effort to Get New Points.

A new and sensational interpretation was given the Phagan mystery Wednesday afternoon when it was revealed that Pinkerton detectives are trailing a Greek now missing who was employed in a restaurant near the National Pencil factory before the crime was committed.

The reasons that the city detectives give for the adoption of the new theory are:

The slaying of Mary Phagan was not a negro crime, as the only negro who has been suspected in the case, Newt Lee, would have fled from the scene.

The notes which were left with the evident intention of diverting suspicion from the actual criminal were too subtle for Lee to have framed.

Strangulation, the method by which Mary Phagan was killed, is not a negro method of killing.

But this method is typical of the Mediterranean countries.

Working along these new lines, the detectives are of the opinion that the crime was not committed inside the National Pencil Factory. They believe that the girl was attacked outside the factory and that her body was taken inside with the intention of hiding it ultimately in the furnace, although the body never reached there. Continue Reading →