by Philip St. Raymond
for The American Mercury
ONE OF the most mysterious aspects of the Leo Frank case is the series of “death notes,” four of which were written, according to testimony, but only two of which were ever found. They were discovered right next to the dead body of Frank’s victim, 13-year-old Mary Phagan. If taken at face value, they appear as though they were written by Mary while she was being assaulted. But they also are written in an approximation of the African-American vernacular of that time and in a semi-literate style that Mary Phagan would have been extremely unlikely to use. Were they written by a Black killer, in a hopelessly botched attempt to throw investigators off the trail? Or were they created by a clever killer to make us think that the murderer was a Black man? Were they perhaps even dictated by the killer to a compliant Black man to write, who would thereby impose his genuine style — and handwriting — on them? (ILLUSTRATION: Two of the four murder notes — the other two were never found.)
In this, the twentieth audio segment of this ground-breaking work originally published by the Nation of Islam, part of their series called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, we also learn that the latter scenario — with Leo Frank dictating the notes to James Conley — is exactly what Conley said actually happened. Much has been made by Frank partisans of the fact that Conley’s language on the stand more or less matched the style and usage of the notes, claiming that this rules out Frank having dictated them. But that claim has little merit, for it seems very unlikely that Frank would want to dictate the notes word for word: Allowing Conley to put them in his own words and style would have served Frank’s purpose much better. We’ll also learn of the glaring weaknesses of Frank’s other alibis, many of which appear to have been hastily and sloppily cobbled together at the last minute.