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.

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

New Testimony Lays Crime to Conley

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Friday, July 4, 1913

Frank Defense Locates Witness Who Points to the Negro Sweeper as Slayer.

A new witness, said to have the most damaging evidence yet produced against Jim Conley, the negro sweeper in the National Pencil factory, entered the Phagan case Thursday and made an affidavit, the contents fo [sic] which are carefully guarded by attorneys for Leo M. Frank, charged with causing the death of the factory girl.

The identity of the witness is as much a secret as the exact nature of his testimony. It was learned, though, that the affidavit was made in the law office of Joseph Leavitt in the Grant Building and was witnessed by Mr. Leavitt’s stenographer.

It is said the testimony of this man connects Conley more directly with the crime than any other statement or affidavit yet procured by the defense. The witness is understood to have seen Conley on the afternoon of the crime and to have heard him make remarks in his drunken condition which were extremely incriminating. Continue Reading →

Both Sides Called in Conference by Judge; Trial Set for July 28

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Dorsey, Beavers and Lanford Summoned to Appear June 30 With All Affidavits They Have Secured Relative to the Phagan Slaying Case.

Just before the conference with both sides in the Frank case started Judge Roan intimated strongly that he would set the case for July 14 or July 28 and hold it in some more commodious court room than the one in which he sits on the fourth floor of the Thrower building. Judge Roan’s personal inclination leans to a date in July, and it is not likely that the State or defense will object to acceding to his wishes.

The date was definitely fixed for July 28 at the conference.

The first important legal move by the defense in the battle for the life and freedom of Leo Frank, accused of the strangling of Mary Phagan, was made Tuesday in the issuance of subpenas duces tecum for the prime movers in the prosecution of the factory superintendent.

The following have been subpenaed to appear:

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, who will prosecute the prisoner.

Chief of Police James L. Beavers, who was the leader in obtaining incriminating affidavits.

Pinkerton Detective Harry Scott, to whom is generally given credit for the admissions gained from Conley.

All other city detectives who have worked on the case.

All of them are ordered to produce any affidavits they may have bearing on the case in court June 30, indicating that the defense will be prepared to go on with the trial at that time.

Judge Roan, however, had called a conference of the attorneys on both sides of the case for 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when he announced that he would set the date definitely after the attorneys had been given an opportunity to say whether or not their cases would be in shape to present if the trial were called the last of this month.

Plan to Use Same Evidence.

The startling move on the part of the defense was taken to mean that Frank’s lawyers propose to use to free their client the very evidence the detectives and Solicitor General have collected to send him to the gallows.

The most significant demand is made upon Chief Beavers, who is commanded to bring into court the famed series of affidavits made by the negro sweeper, Jim Conley. It is evident that Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, who are conducting the defense, intend to tear the contradictory stories of the negro to tatters and make his statements so utterly ridiculous and improbable that the jury not only will refuse to accept them, but will interpret them as an effort of Conley to get from under the blame for a crime that he committed himself. Continue Reading →

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 →

Guessers See a Mystery in Dorsey-Hooper Trips

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

The Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, June 17, 1913

Speculation About Departure of Phagan Case Figures Not Credited, However

What is believed to be but a coincidence in the unheralded out-of-town trips of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, Attorney Frank A. Hooper, who is to assist the solicitor in the prosecution of Leo M. Frank, and Attorney Thomas B. Felder, has given rise to a rumor that these lawyers really have gone on a secret mission of importance and one connected with the Phagan case.

Solicitor Dorsey left Atlanta Saturday afternoon, saying he was going to Atlantic City and New York for a week’s rest; Mr. Felder went away on Sunday, announcing that he was headed for Cincinnati, where he had business that was not of interest to the public; and Mr. Hooper left Monday afternoon, it being stated by his family that he had gone to Indianapolis on business and would return to Atlanta either Thursday or Friday.

Those who profess to scent a mystery in the departure of the three attorneys are allowing their speculations free range. One of the rumors set in motion is to the effect that Messrs. Dorsey, Hooper and Felder have arranged to meet in some eastern city to discuss some important feature of the Phagan case.

Detective Chief N. A. Lanford, Pinkerton Detective Harry Scott, and others who are posted as to the progress of the Phagan case, do not believe that the trips of the three lawyers have any relation whatever.

Chief Lanford and Detective Scott continue to accept as true the statement of the negro sweeper, James Conley, who swore that the only part he played in the Phagan murder was to assist Superintendent Frank to dispose of the body and to write the notes, which he says he did at the dictation of Frank.

It is claimed that Solicitor Dorsey and his investigators have in their possession evidence which strongly corroborates Conley’s story and that they are guarding this evidence very jealously in an effort to keep any inkling of it away from the defense. It was this evidence, it is said, which satisfied the solicitor general that the case against Frank was complete and that he could afford to take a much-needed vacation before the trial.

On the other hand the defense continues to ridicule the efforts made by the prosecution to substantiate Conley’s confession. The defense, it is said, has a few cards up its sleeve which it promises to play at the trial and which may result in some surprises.

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The Atlanta Journal, June 17th 1913, “Guessers See a Mystery in Dorsey-Hooper Trips,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Sensations in Phagan Case at Hand

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, June 17, 1913

Out-of-Town Trips Believed To Be of Great Importance—Defense Has Strong Evidence.

Frank A. Hooper, associate counsel with Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey in the prosecution of the Phagan murder mystery, left Atlanta Monday for a trip to Indianapolis. Attorney Hooper was the third man closely connected with the Phagan case to leave town within a space of three days.

Colonel Thomas B. Felder, who took an active part in the hunt for the slayer of Mary Phagan until the dictograph controversy arose, left Sunday, saying that he was going to Cincinnati. He said that it was a business trip and intimated that it was related either to his quarrel with Chief of Detectives Lanford or directly with the Phagan case.

Solicitor Dorsey left the previous afternoon. He gave out that the prosecution entirely had completed its preparation of the Phagan case and that he was going away for a week’s rest at Atlantic City and New York.

Deny Mystery.

At the Hooper home Tuesday it was admitted that Mr. Hooper’s trip was on business, but denial was made that it was in connection with the Phagan case or that there was any significance in his departure practically at the same time as that of Solicitor Dorsey and Colonel Felder.

Rumors are circulating, however, that material witnesses in the case have been uncovered and that their testimony may have a most important bearing in determining the person who strangled Mary Phagan. It is said that the sudden trips out of town of Solicitor Dorsey and his associate, Attorney Hooper, may not be unrelated to these new developments.

The prosecution has been aware for some time that the attorneys for the defense have been weaving a strong net of damaging evidence around the negro sweeper, Jim Conley.

But Attorney Luther Z. Rosser, following his custom of silence, has let neither the public nor the prosecution in on the secret of the source of this important evidence. He has scores of affidavits. That much is known by the prosecution, but by whom they are signed will probably remain a deep mystery until the Frank trial begins. Continue Reading →

Leo Frank Reported Ready for His Trial

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

Atlanta Constitution

Tuesday, June 10, 1913

Many Witnesses Are Being Examined Every Day by Attorneys for the Defense

That counsel for Leo Frank is ready for trial was freely reported over the city Monday.

Attorney Luther Z. Rosser, his lawyer, when asked regarding this report, gave the reply that has been characteristic of his attitude during the Phagan case.

“I have nothing to say.” He would in nowise commit himself.

It is understood, however, that Mr. Rosser has informed friends that the defense is ready and that there will be no delay in putting it before the jury, which is to try the pencil factory superintendent. In fact, it is stated Frank’s counsel is desirous of an early trial.

Many witnesses are being examined daily by Frank’s attorneys. Pencil plant employees and character witnesses by scores will assist his counsel. Secrecy is thrown around the nature of all testimony.

Chief Lanford said Monday that he had finished examining Jim Conley, the negro sweeper, and that unless the prisoner called for detectives to make further voluntary admissions, he would not again be questioned.

Detectives Harry Scott and John Black spent the early part of last night searching for the victim’s mesh bag. After hours of hunting on the premises of the pencil plant, they were unable to discover a clew. The bag is wanted to examine the finger prints on it.

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, June 10th 1913, “Leo Frank Reported Ready for His Trial,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Conley Re-enacts in Plant Part He Says He Took in Slaying


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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 29th, 1913

With Detectives Looking On, Negro Shows How He Carried Girl’s Body to Basement at Direction, as He Swear, of His Employer, Leo Frank.

As a sensational climax to the confession of his part of the Mary Phagan tragedy, Jim Conley, negro sweeper, was taken to the National [P]encil Factory Friday afternoon, where he enacted by movement every detail of the event that took place in the building of mystery after the death of the little girl.

With the detectives noting every sentence that fell from the ready lips of the negro, Conley started from the exact point at the top of the stairs on the second floor where he says Leo Frank met him, and went through the grim drama with a realism that convinced all who listened and watched that he at last was telling the whole truth.

He reproduced the conversations that passed between him and Frank. He lay down full length at the rear of the metal room to show precisely how the body of the little girl lay when he first saw it. He lay partly on his face, with his right leg slightly drawn up, to portray the position of the dead girl when he first saw her as he was led to the rear of the building, as he says, by Leo Frank.

Show How Body Laid.

Later in the basement he lay down again to show the detectives just how the body was dropped to the ground as though it had been a sack of salt. The negro lay on his face. His right arm was curled up under his body. The left arm was partly under his body, but straight. His feet pointed toward the rear door and his head toward the front of the building.

The announcement that this spectacular reproduction of the crime was to take place was made at the end of another third degree session in the office of Chief Lanford. The negro was put in Chief Beavers’ automobile. All the curtains were drawn and the utmost secrecy was maintained. Only those in authority in the factory were aware that the tragedy was to be re-enacted, step by step.

Conley was handcuffed to Chief Beavers when he stepped from the car. Many of the employees, at leisure during the noon hour, were congregated at the foot of the stairs on the first floor when the strange procession filed up the stairs. The city detectives had come on foot. Chief Lanford and Chief Beavers, with the negro, arrived a few minutes later. Continue Reading →

Negro Sweeper Tells the Story of Murder Notes

Negro Sweeper Tells

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

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, May 29th, 1913

James Conley Makes New Affidavit, Swearing That He Wrote at the Dictation of Leo M. Frank.


Conley Declares Frank Gave Him $2.50 for Writing the Notes—He Writes “Night Witch” for Night Watchman.

James Conley, the negro sweeper at the National Pencil factory, in which little Mary Phagan was murdered, made a new affidavit Wednesday morning in which he threw additional light on the case, incriminating Leo M. Frank, and which detectives think will solve the long-drawn-out mystery.

“Write ‘night watchman,’” he is said to have been commanded by detectives Wednesday morning. The result was ‘night witch,’ just as in the note found by the body of the murdered girl. This, the detectives declare, is the strongest corroboration of his statement that he wrote the notes at the direction of Frank, the factory superintendent.

The city detectives are said to put full credence in his statements now, as in the new affidavit he is said to have sworn that the notes were written on Saturday, about 1 o’clock, and not on Friday, as he first declared.

Feared for His Neck.

His reason for deception the first time is said to be that he feared for his own neck if he admitted the truth. As matters stand now, he is regarded by the detectives merely as an unwilling tool, and not as an accomplice of the murderer, whomever he may be.

According to this new affidavit, the negro’s complete story of his part in the affair is said to be as follows: 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 →

Conley Reported to Admit Writing Notes Saturday

Conley Reported to Admit

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

Atlanta Constitution

Wednesday, May 28th, 1913

Negro Sweeper, It Is Stated, Acknowledges That He Erred in Former Statement to the Detectives.


Conley Is Taken to Frank’s Cell, But Prisoner Refused to See Him Except in the Presence of His Lawyer.

In a gruelling three-hour third degree at police headquarters last night, James Conley, the negro pencil factory sweeper, is reported to have made the statement that he erred in the date of his original confession and that he wrote the murder notes at Leo Frank’s dictation at 1 o’clock on the Saturday of Mary Phagan’s disappearance instead of the preceding Friday.

In an effort to confront the suspected pencil plant superintendent with this acknowledgement, Chief Beavers, Chief Lanford and Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons, took the negro to the Tower at 8 o’clock, where they tried to gain admission to Frank’s cell. Sheriff Mangum refused entrance unless permitted by Frank.

When word came to him that the police chiefs and the Pinkerton man desired to confront him with Conley, the prisoner positively refused them an audience, declaring that he would have to first consult his counsel, Attorney Luther Rosser.

Secrecy Shrouds Confession.

Secrecy shrouds the negro’s reported confession amendment. All three men who subjected him to the third degree admit that he has made a statement of importance, but will neither deny nor affirm the rumor of his change of dates. Chief Lanford was seen by a reporter for The Constitution at police headquarters a few minutes after the negro had been returned to his cell.

He admitted that an important admission had been made by Conley, and, that as a result, he would be used as a material witness against Frank. Continue Reading →

Pinkerton Man Says Frank is Guilty

Pinkerton Man Says Frank GuiltyAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, May 26th, 1913

Pencil Factory Owners Told Him Not to Shield Superintendent, Scott Declares.

Harry Scott, assistant superintendent of the Pinkertons, announced Monday his belief that Leo M. Frank was responsible for the slaying of 14-year-old Mary Phagan April 26. He added that his agency had been working on this theory from the time its services were engaged by officials of the National Pencil Company, two days after the crime.

Scott previously had said the Pinkertons were on the case to find the guilty man, even though it might be Frank. His latest statement is believed to have been prompted by the attack on the Pinkertons by Colonel Thomas B. Felder.

Mr. Scott declared he not only believed Frank responsible for the killing, but that he proposed to lay his evidence before the court and assist in the prosecution of the factory superintendent. He is in possession, he said, of considerable evidence which has not been made public.

Soon after the investigation was undertaken, Scott says he went to the men employing him and asked if he was supposed to protect Frank. He said if he was he would have to throw up the job. He was told, he said, that he had been engaged to find the guilty man, whoever he might be. It was on this assurance the Pinkertons continued the investigation, according to Scott.

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Atlanta Georgian, May 26th 1913, “Pinkerton Man Says Frank is Guilty,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Leo Frank Trial: Week Four

Leo-Frank-closeup-340x264Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

Join The American Mercury as we recount the events of the final week of the trial of Leo Frank (pictured) for the slaying of Mary Phagan.

by Bradford L. Huie

ON THE HEELS of Leo Frank’s astounding unsworn statement to the court, the defense called a number of women who stated that they had never experienced any improper sexual advances on the part of Frank. But the prosecution rebutted that testimony with several rather persuasive female witnesses of its own. These rebuttal witnesses also addressed Frank’s claims that he was so unfamiliar with Mary Phagan that he did not even know her by name. (For background on this case, read our introductory article, our coverage of Week One,  Week Two, and Week Three of the trial, and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.)

Here are the witnesses’ statements, direct from the Brief of Evidence, interspersed with my commentary. The emphasis and paragraphing (for clarity) is mine. The defense recommenced with a large contingent of Frank’s friends, business associates, and employees who would say that Leo Frank was of good character and had not, to their knowledge, made any improper sexual approaches to the girls and women who worked under him: Continue Reading →

Frank is Guilty, Says Pinkerton

sept_harry-scottAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Monday, May 26th, 1913

Sufficient Evidence Found to Convict Him, Declares Man Hired by the National Pencil Company.

Announcing that he had secured evidence sufficient to convict his employer Harry Scott, assistant superintendent of the Pinkertons, who has been retained by the National Pencil company since the second day of the Phagan tragedy, said to a reporter for The Constitution Sunday night that it was his intention to help prosecute the suspected superintendent.

Scott has been in command of the Pinkerton forces working on the investigation. His employment came about in answer to a telephone call from Frank on Monday morning following the murder. He was engaged, he states, for the sole purpose of finding the murderer.

Scott’s Connection With Case.

His connection with the case was explained once before when he was called to the stand at the coroner’s inquest. The Constitution Sunday morning published an exclusive story explaining that although Scott was employed by Frank’s defense, and although reports of the Pinkertons daily progress were submitted to the prisoner’s counsel he was working on the theory that Frank was guilty. Continue Reading →

“I Have No Proof of Bribery in Phagan Case,” Says Chief

I have no ProofAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Monday, May 26th, 1913

Chief Detective Declares He Has No Direct Evidence of Attempt to Influence Witnesses, as Published


His Statement That He Wrote Notes at Frank’s Dictation a Disturbing Element—Search for Evidence Continues

Chief of Detectives Lanford positively denied to The Journal Monday afternoon that he has secured any proof of efforts to bribe witnesses in the Phagan case proper.

The official made this statement, when questioned about the numerous rumors and reports of bribery of witnesses, some of which have been published and given general circulation.

Chief Lanford states that he is in possession of no affidavits relating to attempts to bribe Phagan witnesses, nor has he proof of any sort, he says, which would show that friends of the man indicted for the murder or anyone else, had sought to bribe any witness.

Chief Lanford says, however, that he personally believes that efforts to influence witnesses have been made, and that he is vigorously probing the rumors.

The indictment of Leo M. Frank, on a charge of murdering Mary Phagan has not halted the several investigations of the case. Monday morning neither the city detectives, the Pinkertons nor the Burns forces ceased their efforts to unearth new and cumulative evidence in the case.

The principal efforts of the detectives are now as they have been since from the beginning, directed towards securing evidence to building up the state case against the factory superintendent. Continue Reading →

Frank Indicted in Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, May 25th, 1913

He Will Not Go to Trial Before the Latter Part of June, According to Solicitor General Dorsey.

Leo M. Frank, indicted Saturday afternoon for the murder of Mary Phagan, the 14-year-old girl whose dead body was found at 3 o’clock on the morning of April 27 in the basement of the National Pencil factory, will not go to trial before the latter part of June, according to a statement which Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey made last night.

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, who called the police to the place, was left under consideration by the grand jury. A bill of indictment charging him with the same murder was presented to the grand jury with the bill against the factory superintendent, but the grand jury failed to act, and it is believed that his case will be allowed to rest, pending the trial of the indicted man.

Both Confined in Tower.

Both Superintendent Frank and the negro, Lee, have been confined in the Tower since they were ordered held by the coroner’s jury for the murder of the girl.

In discussing the time of Frank’s trial, the solicitor stated that he could not say when it would be started.

“It will not be possible to hold it before the latter part of June,” he asserted, “and whether or not it is held then depends on a number of things. I have much work to do to get the case ready and there is also the defense to be considered, as they may secure additional time. Continue Reading →

The Leo Frank Trial: Week Two

jim-conley-340x264Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

The trial of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan ended its second week 100 years ago today. Join us as we delve into the original documents of the time and learn what the jurors learned.

by Bradford L. Huie

THE EVIDENCE that National Pencil Company Superintendent Leo Frank had murdered 13-year-old child laborer Mary Phagan was mounting up as the second week of Frank’s trial began in Atlanta, and passions were high on both sides as star witness Jim Conley (pictured) took the stand.

The attempt to frame the innocent black  night watchman, Newt Lee, had failed, despite 1) the “death notes” left near the body implicating him, 2) the bloody shirt planted in his trash barrel, and 3) the forged time card supposedly showing that he had left his post for several hours the night the murder was discovered. Although no one of significance suspected Lee at this point, the defense would still try to attack the medical testimony that placed the murder near midday on April 26, and would introduce Lee’s second alleged time card, provided by Frank, purporting to show that Lee had many hours unaccounted for on the night of the 26th and the early morning hours of the 27th of April.

Newt Lee’s testimony of Frank’s peculiar behavior that afternoon and evening was compelling. Another African-American was about to become pivotal in this case: factory sweeper Jim Conley would testify that he had helped Frank by keeping watch while Frank “chatted” with Mary alone in his office, and by assisting Frank in moving her body to the basement after she was accidentally killed. Conley was about to become central to the defense’s case, too — they would allege that Conley was the real killer. (For background on this case, read our introductory article, our coverage of Week One of the trial, and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.) 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 →

Leo M. Frank is Indicted by Grand Jury for Mary Phagan’s Death; Negro, Newt Lee Held

Solemn Frank

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

Atlanta Journal

Saturday, May 24th, 1913

True Bills Against Pencil Factory Superintendent Returned Less Than Ten Minutes After Evidence Was Closed, at Noon, Saturday — Authority Quoted That He Will Be Tried During Third Week in June—Negro to Stay in Jail


Grand Jury’s Session Began Friday Morning — Many Witnesses Examined, but Not All That Solicitor Has Were Introduced Into Grand Jury Room—Charge Is That Frank Killed Mary Phagan by Choking Her With a Cord That He Tied

Leo M. Frank [pictured], superintendent of the National Pencil factory in the basement of which the slain body of Mary Phagan was found in the early morning of Sunday, April 27, stands formally charged with her death.

A grand jury indictment, a true bill charging that he killed Mary Phagan, was returned by the Fulton county grand jurors at 12:23 Saturday afternoon.

Less than ten minutes earlier, the jury had gone into executive session and Solicitor Dorsey, who had been conducting the examination of witnesses, had left the room. In the interval, the jury reached its verdict, and each of the jurors signed his name to the formal document upon which Frank will be arraigned on the charge of murder.


No action was taken with regard to the negro night watchman, Newt Lee, held by the coroner on a “suspicion” warrant for the grand jury.

Mr. Dorsey stated afterward that he had not asked the grand jury to take action with regard to Lee. It is probable, seemingly, that the grand jury will not return a “true” or “no” bill in Lee’s case until after the trial of Superintendent Frank. Continue Reading →

Officer Swears He Found Frank With Young Girl

Officer Swears He Found Frank With Young Girl

Robert House

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

Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, May 11th, 1913

Robert House, Now a Special Policeman, Tells the Atlanta Detectives of an Incident of Over a Year Ago.


Three More Pinkertons Are Put on the Phagan Case, Under the Supervision of Harry Scott.

Detectives have procured in Robert P. House, a special policeman, a witness who has testified that he once apprehended Leo M. Frank, the suspect in the Mary Phagan mystery, and a young girl in a desolate spot of the woods in Druid Hills Park.

The policeman declares he obtained admission from Frank that he and his companion had come to the woods for immoral purpose.

House is a special officer in the employ of the Druid Hills Land company. Several days ago, he went to the tower in which the suspected superintendent was imprisoned to identify him. When he emerged from the jail, he declared he recognized the prisoner as the man he apprehended in Druid Hills.

Volunteers His Testimony.

He volunteered his testimony. Upon first reading of the Phagan murder, he recalled the incident in the woods. Recollecting that the man had told that he was superintendent of the National Pencil factory, he says he went immediately to the detective department, and an officer escorted him to Frank’s cell in the Tower.

The policeman says the incident occurred a year or more ago, some time after 2 o’clock one summer afternoon. He declares he had seen Frank enter the park frequently with a girl, and on that particular occasion decided to shadow him. As the superintendent and his girl companion stepped from the Ponce de Leon to Druid Hills trolley car at the end of the line, House says he followed them to a swampy section of the woodland, considerable distance from the roadway. Continue Reading →