Phagan Inquest in Session; Six Witnesses are Examined Before Adjournment to 2:30

Lemmie Quinn, foreman, who testified that he visited the factory and talked to Mr. Frank just after Mary Phagan is supposed to have left with her pay envelope. He was given a searching examination by the coroner Thursday, but stuck to his statement.

Lemmie Quinn, foreman, who testified that he visited the factory and talked to Mr. Frank just after Mary Phagan is supposed to have left with her pay envelope. He was given a searching examination by the coroner Thursday, but stuck to his statement.

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

Lemmie Quinn, the Factory Foreman, Was Put Through a Grilling Examination, but He Steadily Maintained That He Visited the Factory Shortly After the Time Mary Phagan is Supposed to Have Left With Her Pay Envelope


Mr. Frank’s Manner at the Time He Was Informed of the Tragedy by Officers at His Home on Sunday Morning is Told of by Former Policeman — Both Frank and the Negro Night Watchman Are Expected to Testify During Afternoon, When Inquest Will Be Concluded

The coroner’s inquest into the mysterious murder of Mary Phagan adjourned at 12:55 o’clock Thursday to meet again at 2:30. At the hour of adjournment, six witnesses had testified. They were “Boots” Rogers, former county policeman; Lemmie Quinn, foreman of the pencil factory; Miss Corinthia Hall, an employee of the factory; Miss Hattie Hall, stenographer; J. L. Watkins and Miss Daisy Jones. L. M. Frank and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, were both present at headquarters during the morning session, but neither had been recalled to the stand when recess was ordered. Both are expected to testify during the afternoon, when an effort will be made to conclude the inquest and return a verdict.

Though put through a searching examination by the coroner in an effort to break down his statement that he had visited the factory on the day of the tragedy shortly after noon just after Mary Phagan is supposed to have received her pay envelope and left, Quinn stuck to his story. He declared that he had recalled his visit to Mr. Frank, and that Mr. Frank told him he was going to communicate the fact to his lawyers. Continue Reading →

Bearing of Black and Lee Forms a Study in Contrast

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 31st, 1913

By Sidney Ormond

Comparisons are odious, but to the close observer of events following the Mary Phagan murder and the trial now in progress one cannot help contrasting the impression made on the jury by Newt Lee, the negro night watchman of the National Pencil factory, and the testimony of John Black, detective, who worked up a large part of the evidence being used against Leo M. Frank by the state.

It was only a short while ago that John Black, according to the statement of Lee, was ‘blunblamming’ at him night and day in an effort to get something new in regard to the death of Mary Phagan. Lee was not allowed to sleep, and you know what that means to a negro. No sooner would he curl up on his bunk to dream of yellow-legged chickens, watermelons and the fresh air of liberty, than along would come Black or Starnes or some other member of the detective force to harass him with questions. For months his life has been one volley of interrogations fired at him coaxingly or menacingly. He told his story so often that doubtless if he were asked which he preferred, chicken or watermelon, he would say,

‘I went down into the basement and—’

Continue Reading →

Detective Black Muddled By Keen Cross-Examination Of Attorneys for Defense

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 31st, 1913

Detective John R. Black, the officer who went in Rogers’ machine from the factory to Frank’s residence on the Sunday morning that Mary Phagan’s body was discovered, was next put up by the state. He took the stand at 11:45 o’clock, and was still there when court adjourned for lunch.

In answers to Solicitor Dorsey’s questions he said he had been on the police force for six years and previous to that had worked as n cooper for the Atlanta Brewing and Ice company.

“Do you know any of the directors of this company?” began the solicitor, when he was quickly interrupted by the defense. Despite Mr. Dorsey’s claim that he had a material end in view, the judge ruled with the defense and without making further ado the solicitor started another line of questions.

Black told how he had been waked up at his home on that Sunday morning and told to report at headquarters and how, after a talk with Lee at the station, he had gone to the pencil factory and from there to Frank’s house with Rogers.

He told practically what Rogers had said about Mrs. Frank’s appearance at the door and of Frank’s stepping from behind a portiere curtain in the hall.

“He came out before I got through talking with Mrs. Frank,” said the detective.

Continue Reading →

Defense Riddles John Black’s Testimony

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 31st, 1913


Just Before He Left the Stand He Confessed That He Was “Mixed Up” and That He Could Not Recall What He Had Testified a Moment Before—Tangled on Finding Bloody Shirt.


Boots” Rogers, Grace Hicks, Mrs. J. W. Coleman and J. M. Gantt on Stand During Day—Mobs of Curiosity Seekers Besieging Doors to Gain Admission to Frank Trial.

When Wednesday’s session of the Leo M. Frank trial had come to a close, the friends of the accused were filled with high hopes for his acquittal. They were nothing short of jubilant, and on all sides expressions of satisfaction were heard.

This feeling was based on the fact that the testimony of John Black, member of the Atlanta detective department, who worked up a large share of the evidence against Frank, fell to the ground, in a large measure, under the merciless cross-questioning of Luther Rosser.

Time and again Black contradicted himself as to time; time and again he confessed that he did not remember. Just before he left the stand he confessed to Mr. Rosser that he was “mixed up,” and that he could not recall what he had testified a moment before.

Continue Reading →

Rosser Riddles One of the State’s Chief Witnesses

Solicitor Dorsey is shown in a characteristic attitude as he questions the state’s witnesses. To his right the defendant, Leo M. Frank, is shown.

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

Atlanta Journal
July 31st, 1913

Detective John Black “Goes to Pieces” Under Rapid-Fire Cross-Questioning of Frank’s Attorney at Afternoon Session

Action characterized the Wednesday afternoon session of the Frank trial, and it was the first time the tedious proceedings had taken on life enough to attract more than passing interest.

This action came in the fierce and merciless cross-examination of Detective John Black by Attorney Rosser, leading counsel for the defense. Black has taken a prominent part in the investigation of the Phagan murder, and it was expected that he would prove one of the state’s principal witnesses, but before Mr. Rosser had finished with him he went all to pieces and admitted that he was hopelessly confused.

There were only two witnesses at the afternoon session—Detective Black and J. M. Gantt, the former shipping clerk at the pencil factory. Gantt was on the stand but about twenty minutes and the only two important points in his testimony were assertions that Frank knew Mary Phagan and that Frank seemed to be frightened and very nervous when the witness saw him at the pencil factory door on the evening of the murder.

Continue Reading →

State Balloon Soars When Dorsey, Roiled, Cries ‘Plant’

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 31st, 1913


Poor John Black!

With this unwitting assistance of the Solicitor General and the assistance of Luther Rosser, he furnished all the “punch” there was in Wednesday’s story of the Frank trial.

Black evidently was undertaking to tell the truth, and was unwilling to tell more or less than the truth, but that didn’t help matters much, so far as the State was concerned.

When Solicitor Dorsey exclaimed “plant!”—which means nothing more than “faked” or “framed up” evidence for the benefit of the defense—I glanced rapidly at Rosser.

I saw precisely what I expected to see—a momentary flicker of a smile about the lips and eyes of the man, an almost immediate lightening of the lips and narrowing of the eyes, and then a quick return of the habitual ferocious frown.

I knew Dorsey had put his foot in it—put it right in, away up over the ankle, and I also knew that getting that foot back to solid ground again was going to be an undertaking pregnant with extreme difficulty and danger.

Continue Reading →

Collapse of Testimony of Black and Hix Girl’s Story Big Aid to Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 31st, 1913

Although the State’s witnesses were on the stand all of Wednesday the day was distinctly favorable for Frank, partly because nothing distinctly unfavorable was developed against him—the burden of proof being upon the State—but most largely because of two other factors, the utter collapse of the testimony of one of the State’s star witnesses, City Detective John Black, and the testimony in favor of Frank that was given by another of the State’s witnesses, Miss Grace Hix, a 16-year-old factory employee.

Girl Helps Frank.

Miss Hix testified that the strands of hair found on the lathing machine on the second floor might have been the hair of one of the other girls in the factory, many of whom when they were ready to leave the factory at night, combed their hair right where they had been working. She said that Magnolia Kennedy’s hair was almost exactly the color of Mary Phagan’s. She also said that the red spots on the second floor might be paint. She never saw Frank attempt any familiarities with the girls.

Black was made the uncomfortable victim of the fiercest grilling any of the witnesses in the Frank trial have received up to this time.

Luther Rosser, chief of counsel for Frank, tore into Black the instant the city detective was turned over to him for cross-examination.

Continue Reading →

Defense to Claim Strands of Hair Found Were Not Mary Phagan’s

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

Atlanta Journal
July 30th, 1913


Miss Hix Also Testifies That Magnolia Kennedy, Who Worked Near Mary Phagan, Had Hair of the Same Color and Shade—Important Admissions Lay Foundation for Defense’s Claim That Murder Was Not Committed in Metal Room


Attorney Rosser Directs His Questions to Combat Claim of Nervousness—Witness Declares She Never Saw Any Red Paint in the Metal Room—State Claims New Evidence Will Soon Be Given—Trial Will Run Into Second Week

Four distinct features marked the trial of Leo M. Frank Wednesday. One was an admission from Miss Grace Hix that the girls frequently combed their hair over the machines in the metal room of the factory; another was a strenuous effort on the part of the state to prove that Frank was very nervous on the morning of the discovery of little Mary Phagan’s body; still another feature was the attempt of the state to show that Frank was reluctant to look upon the dead girl’s face in the undertaking parlors, and the fourth was the state’s effort to prove that red paint never had been seen on the floor of the metal room where the state alleges bloody spots were found.

Around each of these points stiff legal tilts occurred. In developing from Miss Hix’s testimony the fact that the girl’s combed their hair in the metal room, Attorney Rosser laid the foundation for a refutation of the theory that Mary Phagan was murdered there.

The state is expected to introduce as evidence several strands of hair found on the handle of a turning lathe in the metal room, presumed to be those of Mary Phagan. Attorney Rosser drew from the Hix girl the admission that Miss Magnolia Kenneday, one of the metal room employees who worked very close to Mary Phagan’s machine, had hair almost the same shade as that of the murdered girl.

Continue Reading →

Pinkertons Now Declare Leo M. Frank Is Innocent

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

The Atlanta Journal

Friday, July 18, 1913

*Editor’s Note: Small sections of text are missing due to scanning near a crease.


Harry Scott, Field Chief of the Pinkertons, Refuses to Discuss the Agency’s Change of Theory.


The Pinkertons Were Employed by the National Pencil Factory Immediately Following the Murder

That the Pikerton [sic] detectives, who for so many weeks held to the theory that Leo M. Frank is guilty of the Mary Phagan murder, now lay the crime to the door of Jim Conley, is a recent development of interest to the students of the murder mystery.

While Harry Scott, the field chief of the Pinkerton operatives, who have been working on the case practically from the first, employed by the National pencil factory to find Mary Phagan’s murderer, regardless of who the criminal might be, refuses to discuss the case, the Journal has learned from unquestioned authority that the theory of the Pinkertons has undergone a change.

Continue Reading →

Detective Harry Scott’s Hunch — Thrilling Story of How it Secured James Conley’s Confession

Caption reads: Detective Harry Scott (in Panama hat), of the Pinkertons, who played the hunch that Jim Conley, the negro, knew something of the girl’s murder. The accompanying figure is Detective John Black, of police headquarters, whose work in co-operation with the Pinkerton man did much to solve the crime. Great dependence will be put in their testimony at the coming trial of Leo Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan.

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 13, 1913

By Britt Craig.

Have you ever had a hunch that there wasn’t anybody around the table that held a higher hand than your Jacks over tens and consequently you shoved a ‘blue’ to the mahogany with the result that every hostile hand went to the discard?

Have you ever had a hunch that it was going to rain and you pulled in the rugs and took the clothes off the line and let down the windows just in time to see the elements express themselves in a downpour?

Have you ever had a hunch of any kind—one of those real, undeniable inner promptings that chases round and round in your bonnet and worries the life out of you and invariably forces you to do something that you really intended doing but about which you were sorely undecided?

If you’re human, you have.

Detective Harry Scott had one about Jim Conley, the negro sweeper in the Phagan mystery. It was one of those irresistible hunches that buzzes about like a June bug. He took it for its word with the result that he found the key that is predicted to unlock the secret of Atlanta’s most hideous murder.

Detectives are very normal beings. They have hunches like the weakest of us. They’re superstitious, too. You can’t find a single one that will walk under a ladder or fail to knock wood when he brags about himself.

A hunch is one of the most common of human afflictions. It is the very essence of a frailty that affects every normal somebody. The very fact that it is a weakness requires a nerve of steel and backbone of similar fortitude to play one to the limit like Detective Scott played his.

Good detectives, like genius, are utterly human. Genius frequently stalks about in its shirt sleeves without a shave and wearing suspenders. It has been known to chew tobacco and cuss volubly. Sometimes, it has a red nose and a thirst. It can sleep as contentedly on Decatur street as on Peachtree.

Detectives Very Human.

Continue Reading →

Mary Phagan’s Pay Envelope is Found

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, July 10, 1913

Discovery Made by Detectives Weeks Ago, But Is Just Announced

The discovery of the pay envelope given Mary Phagan on the day of her murder is believed by detectives to furnish the missing link in the chain of circumstancial [sic] evidence they declare they have forged.

The envelope was found by Detectives Harry Scott and John Black. It is now in possession of the solicitor general. It was discovered on the first floor of the plant building behind a radiator that is situated in immediate vicinity to the spot at which James Conye [sic], the negro sweeper, says he sat in waiting for his superintendent’s summons.

The production of the envelope as evidence will be a strong point in behalf of Frank’s defense according to his friends, however. It is rumored that his counsel is already preparing to use it as a basis of one of their many attacks upon the negro’s story.

The envelope was found three weeks after the discovery of the girl’s body. It was not made public, however, until Wednesday.

Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey won his point Wednesday and will keep Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, in the tower until the trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan is held on July 28. Attorneys Graham and Chappell for Leo had secured an order directing that the sheriff show cause why he should hold their client but the solicitor held a conference with the negro’s lawyers shortly before the hearing and by mutual consent the affair was indefinitely postponed.

* * *

The Atlanta Constitution, July 10th 1913, “Mary Phagan’s Pay Envelope is Found,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

July 28 Is Date Agreed Upon for Trial of Frank

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

The Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Judge Names Date After Statement From Reuben R. Arnold, In Which He Said Trial Would Last Two Weeks


Subpenas Duces Tecum Issued, Demanding Production of Affidavits and Popers [sic] in Possession of Solicitor

Leo M. Frank, accused of the slaying of Mary Phagan, will not be tried before superior court Judge L. S. Roan next Monday. The judge in a conference with attorneys at 2 o’clock Tuesday afternoon formally set the trial for Monday, July 28, and no attempt to reopen the questions of arraignment will be made. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed to this date.

Any attempt made to put Frank on trial on next Monday was silenced when Reuben R. Arnold, speaking for the defense, said flatly that the trial would take at least two weeks. The assurance that the trial would last some time and the fact that it likely would be held in the stuffy little court room in the Thrower building, if scheduled Monday, practically caused the postponement.

Solicitor Dorsey, for the state, and Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, for the prosecution, were summoned to the court house by Judge Roan at 3 o’clock and a discussion of the matter was opened.


Solicitor Dorsey announced that he was ready and made the declaration that his witnesses would not take more than two days at the outside. He said if the defense had any he didn’t think they would take any longer.

This remark brought a grunt from Luther Z. Rosser and the Arnold statement that the trial would take two weeks.

“We have the witnesses,” both of the lawyers for the defense asserted.

Both Attorneys Rosser and Arnold told the court that in the event of a postponement of the case for Monday that they desired it to go over until after the week of July 14, when both would be engaged in the trial of Mattie Flanders in Swainsboro. Mr. Rosser represents the defense of Mrs. Flanders and Mr. Arnold the prosecution.

This came when Solicitor Dorsey suggested that the case be tried on July 7.

Judge Roan, in fixing July 28 as a date suitable to all concerned, said that there would be no break in the week, as there would with July 4, that a good court room for the trial could be obtained about July 13, that the jail could be cleared of routine cases by that time and previously made engamenest [sic] would not be interrupted.

All lawyers concerned were in court and the judge asserted that lack of preparation could not be offered as an excuse when the case was called on July 28.

The attorneys for Leo M. Frank Tuesday afternoon secured subpoenas duces tecum to be served on Chief James L. Beavers, Chief N. A. Lanford, Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stevens, Hary [sic] Scott, of the Pinkertons; City Detectives John Black, Pat Campbell and J. N. tSarnes [sic], and Secretary of Chief Lanford, G. C. Febuary, calling upon them to produce in court Monday June 30, or any other day that the Frank case might be on trial, all affidavits or statements secured from Jim Conley, the negro sweeper; Monteen Stover and Grace Hix. Continue Reading →

Detective Chief Tells Grand Jury of “Third Degree”

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, June 15, 1913

Questions Put to Lanford Indicate That Investigation of Police Methods Is Being Conducted.


Science and Skill Now Employed by Detectives in Securing Confessions From Criminals, He Says.

The police “third degree,” which has created such widespread discussion during the Mary Phagan murder investigation, has been thoroughly explained to the grand jury by Detective Chief Newport A. Lanford, who appeared before that body at its request.

Detective John Black, of headquarters, who has been an active figure in the Phagan case, is also said to have been quizzed about methods employed by the police and detectives. He will not talk of the subject. Members of the jury are reluctant to give any information.

Chief Lanford, however, willingly told a Constitution reporter of his testimony before the jury and of the nature of queries which were put to him. He says he gave a complete and apparently satisfactory account of the “third degree” and the manner in which it is practiced at police headquarters.

Is Jury Probing Police Methods?

The belief is prevalent in both police and court circles that a secret probe is being promoted by the grand jury into methods employed by both the police and detective departments, and that it was in pursuit of this investigation that the detective head and Black were examined. Chief Lanford is inclined to scout this theory, although he is unable to account for the testimony that was required of him and of Black in the “third degree” probe.

The use of the “third degree” during the Phagan mystery has caused much comment. Its most effective employment, it will be recalled, was in extracting three sensational confessions from the negro sweeper, James Conley. Newt Lee, the negro watchman, the first suspect in the murder case, was subjected to a “degree” equally as strenuous.

The public letter of Mrs. Leo Frank, in which she took the detectives and Solicitor General Dorsey to task for subjecting her servant girl, Minola McKnight, to a system of cross-examination, which, she asserted, left the girl in a state of exhaustion, probably served to actuate the jury’s inquiry into police methods. Mrs. Frank’s letter was a stinging arraignment, and[…]

Continued on Page Four.

Continue Reading →

Grand Jury Calls for Thos. Felder and Police Heads


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

Atlanta Constitution

Tuesday, June 3rd, 1913

Subpoenas Served Monday Night on the Principals in Dictagraph Case and in Charges of Corruption.


Mayor Woodward, Col. Felder, Chief Beavers, Chief Lanford, Carl Hutcheson and Jno. Black Subpoenaed

That the Fulton county grand jury will undertake today an investigation of both sides of the Beavers-Felder controversy was made apparent by the formal summons issued last night to all the principals in the affair.

An added element of mystery to the investigation comes in the attempt made to summon Mrs. Mima [sic] Formby, the woman who made affidavit that Leo M. Frank, now indicted for the murder of Mary Phagan, attempted to rent a room from her for himself and a girl on the night of the murder.

Many Subpoenas Issued.

Mayor Woodward, Chief Beavers, Colonel Felder, Chief Lanford, Charlie Jones, proprietor of the “Rex” saloon; Attorney Carl Hutcheson, City Detective, John Black and Mrs. Formby were the principals upon whom Foreman Beck ordered subpoenas served Monday night.

Charlie Jones was served in person with a summons to attend the grand jury this morning in the case of “The State versus John Doe,” the orders, with the exception of Mrs. Formby, who is said to have left the city, were notified by telephone that their presence was required Tuesday morning before the grand jury.

The charges made by Chief Lanford and other detectives in his force that Colonel Felder had offered a bribe of $1,000 for an affidavit made by Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Coleman, parents of the murdered Phagan girl, and also for other affidavits in the case, and the ensuing charges hurled at the police department by Col. Felder and Attorney Hutcheson, in which the department was charged with graft and corruption stirred Atlanta.

Beavers Asks Probe.

Chief Beavers immediately asked that the grand jury take the matter up and go to the bottom of the charges against himself and the men under him, and Colonel Felder declared that he was ready at any time for the charges against him to be investigated.

That the grand jury would take up the matter at an early date and probe, it has been the general belief of Atlantans who read of the various charges, and when it was announced last week by Solicitor Dorsey that the grand jury would meet on Tuesday morning it immediately became the general belief that the special session would be for this purpose. Continue Reading →

Mary Phagan’s Murder Was Work of a Negro Declares Leo M. Frank

14390922_10155190778292977_6948068707988274765_nAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 31st, 1913

“No Man With Common Sense Would Even Suspect That I Did It,” Prisoner in Fulton Tower Tells Attache. “It’s a Negro’s Crime Through and Through.” Asserts His Innocence to Turnkeys and to Fellow Prisoners.


“I Believe He’d Let ‘Em Hang Me to Get Out of It Himself if He Had the Chance,” Says Negro Sweeper—Chief Lanford Is Pleased With Work of Department and Ready for the Case to Come to Trial Immediately.

“No white man killed Mary Phagan. It’s a negro’s crime, through and through. No man with common sense would even suspect that I did it.”

This declaration was made by Leo M. Frank in his cell at the Tower to a jail attaché, the attaché told a reporter for The Constitution last night. He is also stated to have made incessant pleas of innocence to turnkeys and prisoners who are permitted within the sacred confines of his cell.

No newspaper men are allowed to see him. He has instructed Sheriff Mangum to permit no one in his presence except at his request. The sheriff is obeying the order to the letter. Even Chief Lanford, headquarters detectives and Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons, which agency is in the prisoner’s employ, are denied admission to his cell.

Coupled with the declaration Frank is said to have made to the jail attaché, comes his statement made Friday to Sheriff Mangum that he knew not who was guilty, but that the murderer should hang. This was made after news reached him of Conley’s confession, it is said.

Many Friends Visit Frank.

Frank devours newspaper stories of the Phagan investigation, it is said at the jail. His cell is crowded daily with friends and relatives who bring him papers and delicacies. His wife now visits him once each day. He talks but little of the crime to anyone beside his friends, and but little is gained from him by the jailers and prisoners who visit him. Continue Reading →

The Leo Frank Trial: Week One


Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

100 years ago today the trial of the 20th century ended its first week, shedding brilliant light on the greatest murder mystery of all time: the murder of Mary Phagan. And you are there.

by Bradford L. Huie

THE MOST IMPORTANT testimony in the first week of the trial of National Pencil Company superintendent Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan was that of the night watchman, Newt Lee (pictured, right, in custody), who had discovered 13-year-old Mary’s body in the basement of the pencil factory during his nightly rounds in the early morning darkness of April 27, 1913. Here at the Mercury we are following the events of this history-making trial as they unfolded exactly 100 years ago. We are fortunate indeed that Lee’s entire testimony has survived as part of the Leo Frank Trial Brief of Evidence, certified as accurate by both the defense and the prosecution during the appeal process. (For background on this case, read our introductory article and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.) Continue Reading →

Cases Ready Against Lee and Leo Frank

Cases Ready

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

Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, May 20th, 1913

Solicitor General Dorsey Declares All Evidence Will Go to the Grand Jury Friday.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey announced Tuesday morning that the State’s case against Leo M. Frank and Newt Lee in connection with the Phagan murder, would go to the Grand Jury Friday of this week. He said that he could anticipate no new arrest or development that would make it necessary to change this plan.

Mrs. Jane F. Carr, 251 Ponce De-Leon Avenue, in an open letter, asked every woman in Atlanta to contribute to the fund to employ the Burns detective and Mr. Burns himself to work in the Phagan investigation. She appealed to women of every walk in life to give according to their means.

“What if Mary Phagan were your child?” was the subject of her letter.

Felder Asks for Funds.

The Burns fund, after going above the $2,000 mark, slacked considerably. Colonel Thomas B. Felder said this sum would not sufficient if it became necessary for the Burns men to make an exhaustive investigation, and asked the people to contribute liberally to the end that Atlanta’s greatest mystery be satisfactorily cleared. 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 →

Here is Testimony of Witnesses Given at the Final Session of Coroner’s Jury in Phagan Case

Here is Testimony of Witnesses Given at the Final Session of Coroner's Jury

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Full Story of Hearing Thursday Afternoon When Frank, Newt Lee, Detectives Black and Scott and Several Character Witnesses Were Placed on the Stand

The verdict of the coroner’s jury that Mary Phagan came to her death by strangulation and its recommendation that both Mr. Frank and Lee be held for investigation by the grand jury was rendered at 6:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon and marked by the conclusion of one of the most remarkable inquests ever held in this state.

Deputy Plennis Minor carried the news of the coroner’s jury verdict to Mr. Frank and to the negro. Mr. Frank was in the hallway of the Tower, reading an afternoon paper, when the deputy approached him and told him that the jury had ordered him and the negro held for an investigation by the grand jury.

“Well, it’s no more than I expected at this time,” Mr. Frank told the deputy. Beyond this he made no comment.

Newt Lee, says Mr. Minor, was visibly affected. He seemed very much depressed and hung his head in a dejected manner.

The jury was empaneled by Coroner Paul Donehoo on Monday, April 28, and has held four long and tedious sessions for the taking of testimony in addition to meeting to inspect the body and the scene of the crime. Twice the body of Mary Phagan was exhumed at the order of the coroner, in order that physicians might search more thoroughly for clues and evidence. Continue Reading →

With Two Men Held in Tower, Mystery of Murder Deepens

With Two Men Held in Tower, Mystery of Murder Deepens

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Belief That the Detectives Had Positive Evidence, Which They Were Withholding, Dissipated by Admissions


Case Now Goes to the Grand Jury but No Action Is Expected for a Week—Search for Evidence Will Continue

Coroner Paul Donehoo and the six jurors who investigated the murder of little Mary Phagan in the National Pencil factory on April 26, concluded Thursday the most thorough and exhaustive probe of a violent death ever conducted in this county and probably in the state.

The jury recommended that Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the factory, college graduate and man of culture and refinement, and Newt Lee, an ignorant negro watchman, both be held for investigation by the grand jury.

But the mystery of Mary Phagan’s death has not been solved. Continue Reading →