Trial is No Ordeal for Me, Says Frank’s Mother

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

Atlanta Journal
July 30th, 1913

She Declares Her Confidence in Son’s Innocence Makes It Easy for Her

“My son never looked stronger than at this moment,” said Mrs. Ray Frank, of Brooklyn, Wednesday morning. “The trial isn’t telling upon him because he isn’t worrying. He is confident because of his innocence and because of his certainty of an acquittal.

“Neither his wife nor myself is anxious. Of course, we feel the heat and it is tiring to sit here in the court room throughout the day. But, like my son, we are not afraid. Why should we be? We know that he is innocent and we know that, because of this fact, he will be acquitted.

“I, his mother, know that he is free from all guilt of the charge upon which he is being tried, and that this trial can have only one result—his acquittal.

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Frank’s Mother Pitiful Figure of the Trial

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 30th, 1913

Defendant Perfect in Poise, His Wife Picture of Contemptuous Confidence.

By L. F. WOODRUFF.

Arm akimbo; glasses firmly set, changing position seldom, Leo M. Frank sits through his trial with his thoughts in Kamchatka, Terra del Fuego, or the Antipodes, so far as the spectators in the courtroom can judge.

He may realize that if the twelve men he faces decide that he is guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan, the decree of earthly court will be that his sole hope of the future will be an appeal to the Court on High. His mind may constantly carry the impression of the likelihood of the solemn reading of the death warrant, the awful march to the death chamber, the sight of the all terrifying gibbet, the dreadful ascension of its steel stairs, the few words of religious consolation—and then the drop.

Frank’s Face a Mask.

But if he does realize these things, his face is as completely masked against emotion as that of a skilled poker player.

Continue Reading →

Unusual Interest Centers In Mrs. Frank’s Appearance

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

Up to the hour of the trial, Mrs. Leo M. Frank, wife of the young man now on trial for his life, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, had kept in the background of the case. Daily she visited her husband at the jail, and brought him delicacies. She came quietly, and when she departed she created no stir of excitement among the hangers-on around the jail. She was accorded the most chivalrous treatment, and her desire to avoid notoriety was respected. Only once did an expression from her appear in the public prints, and then only because she felt her husband had not been fairly dealt with, and her wifey feelings compelled her to express her opinion of certain phases of the case.

Object of Great Interest.

For this reason there was a great deal of curiosity as to whether she would be present at the trial, and when she did make her appearance she was the object of an interest second only to that felt in her husband, by whose side she sat during the entire day. This interest, however, was not obtrusive or offensive. It was at all times respectful—a very natural interest which could not be repressed.

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Mrs. Leo Frank and Her Mother Cheer Prisoner at Courthouse

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

Atlanta Journal
July 28th, 1913

Accused Neither Care-Worn Nor Haggard—His Eyes Meet Those of Crowd Without Faltering

There was one question on the face of every member of the big crowd in and around the courthouse Monday morning. To those standing without in the street, to those crowding the corridors and hallways, to witnesses flowing through rooms on the second floor, to the packed courtroom, the query was, where is the prisoner.

The man to whom the trial meant more than it meant to any other human being, had been brought to the courthouse early in the morning.

He was in a bare walled little room a few feet from the doorway leading to the court. With him sat two deputy sheriffs, his father-in-law, Emile Selig, and a friend.

From time to time during the morning the curious slipped to the door and gazed in at the accused. They saw a little man whose dark eyes gazed at them unwinking through big glasses. He was pale, but neither care-worn nor haggard. He wore a light gray suit striped with darker gray, black shoes, and a black and white four-in-hand tie.

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Jury Complete to Try Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Wife Helps Prisoner Pick Men to Try Him

All in Readiness for Real Trial to Begin After Short Recess

Events on the opening day of the trial of Leo M. Frank, accused of the slaying of Mary Phagan in the National Pencil Factory, moved with such unexpected swiftness that it was apparent that the trial proper would be under way and the first witnesses called before the close of the first day’s session. The jury had been completed by the time recess was taken at 1:30.

After a few preliminary clashes between the opposing attorneys which presaged a bitter struggle when the fight for Frank’s life actually was begun, the court settled down to the selection of the jury. The whole morning session up to the recess was occupied with the examination of veniremen.

All the force of attorneys at the table for the defense watched with keen eyes every man examined and frequently referred to a voluminous r[e]cord containing the names of all the veniremen and detailed statements of their history and associations so far as these might have a bearing on their desirability as jurors to pass on Leo Frank’s guilt or innocence.

The keenest interest was manifested by those in the crowded little courtroom as the strategies of the brilliant lawyers were revealed during the examination.

State Had Veniremen’s Records.

The thoroughness with which the Solicitor and his assistants had canvassed the history of every venireman and had investigated whether or not he had ever expressed an opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused was demonstrated when W. W. Hemmett, a salesman for the Kingsbury Shoe Company, was being examined as to his qualifications.

“Have you ever said you thought Frank was guilty?” Mr. Dorsey inquired.

“No, I never have,” replied Hemmett.

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Frank Watches Closely as the Men Who are to Decide Fate are Picked

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

This newspaper article is a continuation from the first page of an Atlanta Georgian newspaper. The first page is missing from our archives. If any readers know where to obtain the first part of this article, we would appreciate any help! Thank you!

[…] Mary Phagan by strangulation. This was followed by the request of the defense that the State’s witnesses be called, sworn and put under the rule.

The prosecution opened by announcing its readiness to go on with the trial and called the list of witnesses. Bailiffs brought them down from the second floor. In regular order called, their names were: Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan; J. W. Coleman, the girl’s stepfather; George Epps, newsboy; L. S. Dobbs, policeman; W. W. Rogers, bailiff for constable; L. S. Starnes, detective and also prosecutor on the indictment; Pat Campbell, detective; Grace Hicks, girl who identified Mary Phagan’s body; J. M. Gantt, once held for inquiry, now supposed, to be a star witness for the prosecution; Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective; R. P. Barrett, pencil factory employee; B. P. Haslett, policeman; M. [sic] V. Darley, factory employee; W. A. Gheesling, undertaker that cared for the girl’s body; Dr. Claude Smith, City Bacteriologist; Dr. H. F. Harris, member of the State Board of Health; Dr. J. W. Hurt, Coroner’s physician; E. L. Parry, court stenographer; E. S. Smith, Monteen Stover, girl employee at pencil factory; Minola McKnight, cook at Frank’s home; Albert McKnight, Minola’s husband (McKnight did not appear in court); Helen Ferguson, Mrs. Arthur White, wife of factory employee, and L. Stanford.

Agree on Conley Affidavits.

Attorney Reuben Arnold asked concerning the duces tecum that he had served on the State’s attorneys for the affidavits of Jim Conley and others. On the promise of Solicitor Dorsey that he would produce the affidavits whenever needed the duces tecum was waived.

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Dorsey Aide Says Frank Is Fast In Net

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 16, 1913

Attorney Hooper Declares State Is Prepared for Any Move the Defense May Make.

Frank A. Hooper, the well-known criminal lawyer who has been engaged to assist Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey in the trial of Leo M. Frank for the alleged murder of Mary Phagan, said Monday that the case was complete and was ready for presentation in court at any time.

Mr. Hooper asserted that the attorneys interested in the prosecution had investigated every angle of the mystery so thoroughly and fortified themselves against any defense that Frank will present, that practically nothing remained to be done until the case was called for trial. The departure of Solicitor Dorsey for a week’s vacation, he said, was an indication of the preparedness of the prosecution.

No new developments are expected by the prosecution, according to Mr. Hooper. All of the stories and rumors have been run down to their original source. The defense, in his opinion, will be able to spring no surprise that has not been anticipated by the prosecution.

Mrs. Frank Gives Interview.

The American printed Sunday an exclusive interview with Mrs. Frank, whose husband, Leo M. Frank, is under indictment chraged with the murder of 14-year-old Mary Phagan. It was the first time that Mrs. Frank had permitted himself to be interviewed since the Coroner’s jury a month ago recommended that the Grand Jury hold her husband for trial.

She broke her silence to tell the thousands who have been gripped by the remarkable murder mystery just why she is absolutely confident and positive that Frank could not have been the author of the terrible deed. She made no plea for sympathy, but expressed herself as fully reconciled to the processes of the law, even though they temporarily caused her the greatest sorrow and kept her husband behind the cars as a man suspected of one of the most brutal crimes thinkable. The loyal wife said that she was able to bear the present belief because of the assurance of Frank’s ultimate and complete vindication.

Why She Believes Husband.

On the fact that she believes from her life with the suspected slayer that any gross or immoral act is utterly apart from his nature, she bases much of her belief in his entire innocence. 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.

TORTURE ERA IS PAST, CHIEF INFORMS JURY

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.

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Solicitor Makes No Reply to Mrs. Frank

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

Atlanta Journal

Sunday, June 8, 1913

Hugh M. Dorsey Has No Comment to Make on Mrs. Frank’s Letter

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey has declined to make any answer to the published statement of Mrs. Leo M. Frank, charging him with allowing the use of “torture” to force people to make false statements against her husband, who is charged by a grand jury indictment with the murder of Mary Phagan.

In her statement, Mrs. Frank flayed the solicitor general, charging that it is evident from his card that he believes that he is perfectly justifiable in using testimony procured from witnesses by torture.

While the statement of the accused man’s wife is directed at the solicitor general, she pays her respects to the city detectives in no uncertain terms, and she speaks often on the “detectives’ torture chamber.”

According to the authorities, there have been no recent developments in the Phagan murder investigation, and the state and the defense are both lending their energies towards preparation for the trial of Frank, which will be fixed for June 30, it is said.

The trial is certain to be a tremendous legal battle, and it is probable that several attorneys will be engaged to assist Luther Z. Rosser and Herbert Haas in the defense and the solicitor general in the prosecution. Both Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Rosser decline to discuss in any way their preparations for the trial.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, June 8th 1913, “Solicitor Makes No Reply to Mrs. Frank,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Fair Play Alone Can Find Truth in Phagan Puzzle, Declares Old Reporter

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

Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, June 8th, 1913

Average Atlantan Believes Frank is Guilty, but That Little Real Evidence Has Yet Pointed to Him as Slayer.

Stirring Defense by Wife and Attack on Solicitor Dorsey Are Two Striking Features of Week’s Progress in Case.

by AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

I have thought a good deal during the past week about a fine young newspaper man I used to know some fifteen years ago, and particularly of the last thing he said to me before he died.

He was a Georgian, too. We had been college mates and fraternity mates, and all that sort of thing.

After we graduated, he plunged into newspaper work, and I studied law. I practiced—to a limited extent—that honorable profession for some four years, but abandoned it eventually for newspaper work, and when I plunged in also, I asked him how about it.

This is what he said: “There is only one thing about it. Work fast, get your facts straight, beat ‘em if you can—but don’t go off half-cocked. Don’t get yourself where you have to take back things—but don’t be afraid to take ‘em back, if necessary—and be fair. The Golden Rule is, ‘BE FAIR!’ Unless you are fair, you will not respect yourself, and nobody else will respect you!”

Phagan Case Shows People Are Fair.

I find that most people ARE fair. I believe there is in the hearts of nine people in every ten one meets a desire to see his fellow-man get “a square deal.” And I believe it more nowadays than I ever believed it before, for the progress of the Phagan investigation has reaffirmed my faith in my fellow-man.

The Atlanta Georgian was the first newspaper to give pause to the riot of passion, misunderstanding, misinformation and rank prejudice primarily set in motion by the slaying of little Mary Phagan. Continue Reading →

Mrs. Frank Attacks Solicitor H. M. Dorsey in a New Statement

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

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, June 7th, 1913

Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey refused late Saturday afternoon to make reply to the reiterated accusations of Mrs. Leo M. Frank that “torture chamber” methods were made use of by the state to secure evidence from witnesses.

“I hav[e]n’t had time to read Mrs. Frank’s statement fully,” declared Mr. Dorsey, “and even though I did read it, I do not know that I would reply to it.”

Mrs. Frank’s second letter was made public Saturday morning and is as follows: Continue Reading →

“Torture Chamber” Methods Charged in Getting Evidence

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

Atlanta Journal

Saturday, June 7th, 1913

In Card to The Journal, Wife of Factory Superintendent Declares Solicitor Dorsey Has Approved Third Degree

“WE ARE SUFFERING NOW, BUT WHO WILL BE NEXT?”

Her Statement in Full—Conley Will Not Be Indicted as Accessory, but if Frank is Acquitted, He Will Be Tried

Mrs. Leo M. Frank, wife of the indicted pencil factory superintendent, Saturday afternoon sent The Journal a second statement in which she renews her charge that Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and the city detectives are obtaining evidence in the Phagan murder case by torturing witnesses into giving testimony.

Mrs. Frank’s statement is given out in reply to one issued Thursday afternoon by the solicitor. She declares that her negro cook, Minola McKnight, was arrested in violation of the criminal laws, because there was no charge against her and she was suspected of no crime.

“I do not wish to be in any manner bitter towards Mr. Dorsey, even in my feelings,” declares Mr[s]. Frank, “because it is [m]os[t] perfectly clear that his action is dictated by a serious mistake of judgment, and my only purpose is to let the community understand as thoroughly as I can, in the interest of fairness to my innocent husband, that Mr. Dorsey is proposing to use third degree torture chamber testimony in an effort to take his life and that he thinks it is perfectly proper for him to do so.”

MRS. FRANK’S STATEMENT.

Following is Mrs. Frank’s statement: Continue Reading →

Conley Sticks to His Story; Declares Detective Chief

conley_sticks_to

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, June 6th 1913

Report of a Confession, Different From One Given to the Detectives, Is Ridiculed by Chief Lanford

DORSEY MAKES REPLY TO MRS. L. M. FRANK

No More News of Phagan Case to Be Given to Newspapers Except Through Head of Detectives

Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford gave out a statement Friday morning in which he characterized as absurd the rumor that James Conley, the negro pencil factory sweeper, had ever made any confessions other than those contained in the affidavits given the detectives.

The chief stated that he had questioned Conley on this subject both Thursday evening and Friday morning and that the negro had positively denied that he had made any other confessions.

This rumor is said to have originated at the court house Thursday following certain questions which the members of the grand jury are said to have put to A. S. Colyar, a witness. Colyar is said to have been asked if he had at any time drafted or had in his possession an affidavit of confession from Conley.

Colyar emphatically denied that he had ever discussed such an affidavit with any one. The only information he had of Conley’s confessions, said Colyar, he had obtained from the newspapers.

Chief Lanford says that he talked with Colyar over the telephone Friday morning and that he denied ever having or claiming to have such an affidavit, much less offering one for sale. “He also told me,” said the chief, “that he had never talked with Conley in his life and stated that he had only seen the negro once and that was when he happened to glance in the door of my office when we were questioning Conley.

“Last night Conley was brought up to my office and I asked him if he had ever intimated to anybody that he knew anything about the murder of Mary Phagan before he confessed to us. He stated that he had not. This morning he said he had never seen nor heard of Colyar.” Continue Reading →

Dorsey Replies to the Charges of Mrs. L. Frank

dorsey-repliesAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Friday, June 6th, 1913

Says the Wife of an Accused Man Would Be the Last to Learn of Her Husband’s Guilt.

MRS. FRANK BITTER IN HER CRITICISM

Detective Department Not at All Disturbed Over Denial of the McKnight Woman That She Signed Affidavit.

The wife of a man accused of crime would probably be the last person to learn all of the facts establishing her husband’s guilt, and certainly would be the last person to admit his culpability, even though it be proved by overwhelming evidence.

Perhaps the most unpleasant feature incident to the position of prosecuting attorney arises from the fact that punishment of the guilty inevitably brings suffering to relations who are innocent of participation in the crime, yet who must share the humiliation following from its exposure.”

These statements are contained in a signed letter for publication given The Constitution yesterday afternoon by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey shortly following the issuance of a letter criticizing him by Mrs. Leo Frank, wife of the man indicted for the murder of Mary Phagan.

Scores the Detectives.

Mrs. Frank’s letter rings with caustic denunciation of the solicitor and the detectives for imprisoning the servant girl, Minola McKnight, and issuing the sensational affidavit purported to have been signed by the negress. She declares belief in her husband’s innocence and expresses confidence that he will be acquitted.

She arraigns the circulators of unsavory and “untrue” stories regarding her alleged unhappy married life and asserts that the suspected man could not have been “the good husband he had been to her if he were a criminal.” It is the first public statement issued by any member of the Frank family and created wide interest. Continue Reading →

‘I Know My Husband is Innocent,’ Asserts Wife of Leo M. Frank

Portrait of Lucille Selig Frank

Portrait of Lucille Selig Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Following the complete denial by Minola McKnight, cook in the household of Leo M. Frank, of the statements she is alleged to have made in the sensational police affidavit given out Wednesday, Mrs. Leo M. Frank Thursday made her first public statement on the Mary Phagan mystery.

Mrs. Frank makes an eloquently pathetic defense of her husband and attacks Solicitor General Dorsey’s methods in the securing of evidence, charging torture and a deliberate determination to distort facts. Mrs. Frank denies absolutely that her husband in any way demeaned himself so as to indicate he had been involved in a tragedy on the day Mary Phagan was slain or any other day. Here is Mrs. Frank’s complete statement: Continue Reading →

Negro’s Affidavit Not Given Much Credence

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Even the City Detectives, It Is Said, Attach Very Little Importance to Document

Very little importance, it is said, is attached by the city detectives to the sensational and incoherent affidavit of Minola McKnight, the negro cook at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, 68 East Georgia avenue, where Leo M. Frank, the pencil factory superintendent, and his wife reside.

Attorney Luther Rosser, chief counsel for the indicted superintendent, read the affidavit with apparent amusement. He had no comment to make, but it was evident that Mr. Rosser did not regard the affidavit seriously.

Mr. and Mrs. Selig and Mrs. Frank read the affidavit in The Journal, and although they would make no statement for publication, they appeared to view the negro woman’s testimony as absurd and ridiculous on the face of it.

But little of the cook’s testimony, even should she stick to her story until the day of the trial, will be admissible in court. It is largely alleged hearsay evidence and, therefore, barred.

The woman, in her affidavit, swears that Frank came home to lunch on the Saturday of the Mary Phagan murder, about 1:30; that he did not eat anything and that he remained only about ten minutes. If the negress knows of her own knowledge that this is true she can so testify in court. However, Mr. Selig, Frank’s father-in-law, will swear as he did before the coroner’s inquest, that Frank ate lunch with him and afterwards lay down on a lounge for a nap. Mrs. Selig will reiterate her testimony at the inquest, which was to the effect that Frank came home about 1:30 o’clock and that she and her daughter, Mrs. Frank, were dressed and ready to go to a grand opera matinee; that soon after his arrival they left.

The McKnight woman, in her affidavit, declares that some time on Sunday she overheard Mrs. Frank tell her mother, Mrs. Selig, that Frank came home drunk the night before, that he was very restless and acted queerly; that he told her (Mrs. Frank) that he was in trouble and begged her to get his pistol in order that he might kill himself. Continue Reading →

“My Husband is Innocent,” Declares Mrs. Leo M. Frank In First Public Statement

my-husband-is-innocent

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Wife of Accused Pen[c]il Factory Superintendent Arraigns Solicitor General Dorsey for What She Terms the Torturing of Witnesses Into Making Desired Affidavits—Says Treatment of Her Negro Cook by Solicitor and Detectives Taxed Patience

DECLARES MR. FRANK’S DEMEANOR HAS ALWAYS BEEN THAT OF AN INNOCENT MAN

Says Many Slanders Have Been Circulated Concerning the Alleged Unhappy Married Life of Herself and Her Husband—“He Could Not Have Been the Good Husband He Has Been to Me if He Were a Criminal,” Asserts Mrs. Frank

For the first time since her husband, Leo M. Frank, was arrested more than four weeks ago on suspicion of having murdered Mary Phagan, the pencil factory girl, the accused man’s wife on Thursday broke her silence and issued a statement in which she vigorously attacks Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and the city detectives for the methods which she charges they have employed in an effort to gather evidence against Mr. Frank.

Mrs. Frank begins her statement by declaring “the action of the solicitor general in arresting and imprisoning our family cook because she would not voluntarily make a false statement against my innocent husband, brings a limit to patience.”

She charges that witnesses are being tortured into furnishing the kind of affidavits desired by the solicitor and the detectives, and states that “it is hard to believe that practices of this nature will be countenanced anywhere in the world, outside of Russia.” Continue Reading →

Frank Wanted Gun to Take His Life, Says Negro Cook

frank-wanted-gunAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Sensational Affidavit Made for the Police by Minola McKnight, Servant in Leo Frank’s Home.

Fully as startling as the recent confession of James Conley, an affidavit purporting to have been sworn to by Minola McKnight, the servant girl of the Frank household, was given out to the newspapers yesterday afternoon by Chief Lanford. The detectives assert it is the “final straw” in the mass of evidence they boast of having accumulated.

Attesting to a statement that Frank was nervous and excited on the tragedy night, the negress swears Mrs. Frank told of having to sleep on a rug in the bedroom and of her suspicion that her husband was drunk. The servant girl also declares that Mrs. Frank had stated that Frank asked for a gun with which to kill himself, and that he asked, “Why could I be guilty of murder?”

The affidavit further states that Frank arrived home on the crime date about 1:30 o’clock in the afternoon, and, without eating dinner, left within less than ten minutes. He returned at 7 o’clock at night, the negress swears. Also, she declares that her name was attached to the document of her own free will and accord, and that she was not threatened or persuaded in any form.

Stands Sponsor for Woman.

She was released from prison on an agreement between her counsel, George Gordon, and Chief Lanford. Gordon offered to produce her at the trial, the detective chief declares, if she would be given freedom, and would stand sponsor for her presence. As long as she reports daily to police headquarters and shows no inclination to leave, Lanford says, she will not be molested. Otherwise, she will be returned to prison and held until the courts take up the case.

Attorney William M. Smith, counsel for James Conley, the negro sweeper, was asked Wednesday afternoon if he had formulated the line of defense to be presented by his client in case Conley was accused by Frank’s defense of the murder, as is the present outlook. He answered:

“Conley will need no defense. By the time he is accused, if he is, Frank will have been convicted of the crime.”

It was announced from Solicitor Dorsey’s office Wednesday that he Phagan case will go before the courts during the week of June 30 instead of the 23d, as has been predicted. No definite decision has been reached, however. It is understood that Dorsey will be ready for the prosecution at the later date, and that unless there are reasons for delay on the part of the defense, the case will proceed expeditiously. Continue Reading →

Cook’s Sensational Affidavit

cooks-sensational

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

Says She Heard Frank’s Wife Tell Mother Frank Had Threatened Suicide

Incoherent Statement by Employee of Frank Household That Must Not Be Taken as Legal Evidence Until Heard and Corroborated in Court.

Another sensational but strangely incoherent affidavit in the Mary Phagan mystery was made public this afternoon when the police gave out what purports to be a startling statement sworn to by Minola McKnight, negro cook in the Frank household, who was grilled for two hours at police headquarters Tuesday.

The statement quotes the McKnight woman as declaring that she overheard Mrs. Leo Frank tell her mother that Frank had talked of murder and had threatened to get a gun and shoot himself.

The Georgian informs its readers once again that police affidavits are not evidence until they have been accepted in court, and that judgment as to their reliability should be withheld until then.

Statement of Negroes in Full

The McKnight woman’s statement is given for what it is worth as follows: Continue Reading →

Sensational Affidavit Made by Minola M’Knight, Negro Cook at Home of L. M. Frank

sensational-affidavit

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

Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

In This Affidavit Minola Tells of Conversation That Occurred Between Mrs. Frank and Mrs. Selig, In Which Mrs. Frank Is Alleged to Have Said Frank Was Drinking on Night of Tragedy, and That He Wanted a Pistol to Kill Himself

MRS. FRANK SAID, SO NEGRO COOK SWEARS, THAT FRANK MADE HER SLEEP ON THE FLOOR THAT NIGHT

Negro Says Further That Frank Came Home at 1:30 o’Clock on Fatal Saturday, but Remained Only About Ten Minutes, and That He Left Without Eating His Dinner—Affidavit Is Vague and Confused—It Is Given Here In Full

An affidavit, sworn to by Minola McKnight, the negro servant at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, where Leo M. Frank and his wife live, was made public by Chief of Detectives N. A. Lanford Wednesday afternoon. In the affidavit Minola McKnight tells of alleged conversations at the Selig home in which Mrs. Frank is quoted as having said that Frank was drunk on Saturday night, April 26, and that he made her sleep on a rug. The negro quotes Mrs. Frank further as saying that Mr. Frank couldn’t understand how he could be guilty of murder, and that Frank had begged her for a pistol that he might shoot himself.

The negro says in her affidavit that she has been kindly treated and gives this as the reason for not having made her statement sooner. She swears that the affidavit is made of her own free will.

The affidavit is nearly all hearsay evidence, and therefore inadmissible in court.

The affidavit follows in full: Continue Reading →