Starnes Tells How Affidavit From Negro Cook Was Secured

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 21st, 1913

John Starnes, prosecutor of Leo Frank, was put up to tell about the Minola McKnight affidavit.

“Did you Investigate the scuttle hole around the elevator? was Dorsey’s first question.

An objection by the defense was overruled.

“See any blood spots there?


“Now, tell the jury about the Minola McKnight affidavit.”

Continue Reading →

Mother-in-Law of Frank Denies Charges in Cook’s Affidavit

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 15th, 1913

Following the testimony of those who claimed to have played poker at the Emil Selig home on the night of April 26, Mrs. Selig, Leo Frank’s mother-in-law was placed on the stand and asked a number of questions about the happenings at her house on Sunday, April 27. To most of the questions from the state on cross-examination she replied that she had forgotten.

When the witness took the stand, Attorney Arnold called on the state for the affidavit which Minola McKnight, the Selig’s cook, signed at police station and later repudiated.

“Mrs. Selig,” said Mr. Arnold, “I wanted to ask you some questions about statements in this affidavit and find out if they are true.

“Is it true that there was talk in your home about the time of the murder? Leo Frank being caught with a girl at the factory and that the negro cook asked if it was a Jew girl or a Gentile and you or Mrs. Frank said it was a Gentile?”

“It is not true, there was no such conversation that I know of.”

Mrs. Selig was almost crying at this juncture of her testimony.

Continue Reading →

Woman Charges Police Forced Her to Make False Statement

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

Atlanta Journal
July 28th, 1913

Negro Cook in the Selig-Frank Home Repudiates Affidavit She Swore to Against Frank, Will Refuse to Swear to the Paper, She Says

Minola McKnight, the negro cook, who signed an affidavit which is to be used by the prosecution against Leo M. Frank, said Monday morning that the police, by three hours’ sweating, forced her to sign this affidavit, and that when she is called as a witness that she will refuse to testify to the statements set forth in it.

The substance of the affidavit was that, on the morning following the murder of Mary Phagan, Mrs. Frank came downstairs at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, with whom she and Frank made their home, and said that Frank had asked for a pistol with which to kill himself.

At the time the negro cook signed this written statement of what is said in the affidavit to have happened at the Selig residence on the day following the murder, she was confined at police station.

Continue Reading →

New Move in Phagan Case by Solicitor

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 6, 1913

Dorsey Will Endeavor to Force Defense to Disclose Their Documentary Evidence.


Frank’s Attorneys Said to Have Affidavits Exonerating Frank and Indicating Conley’s Guilt.

A sensational turn in the Phagan murder mystery, according to one of the attorneys for the defense, will develop next week when Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey issues a subpena duces tecum on Attorneys Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben Arnold, citing them to produce all the affidavits they have secured that bear on the crime.

The movement is in the nature of a counterstroke to block the pending subpenas duces tecum filed by the defense, citing the State to produce all the affidavits that have been secured.

The defense strongly maintains that it will win its point and that the prosecution will suffer. The attorneys say that the Constitution of the State clearly outlines the action of the court in such matters—”that the defendant is entitled to be faced with all the evidence against him”—while the prosecution will labor under the handicap that “a defendant is innocent until he is proven guilty.”

Dorsey Is Silent.

While no announcement would be made by Solicitor Dorsey relative to the contemplated subpenas duces tecum, it was intimated by him that such action might be taken at an early date, and that when it was the defense and the prosecution would lock horns in the first decisive battle in the sensational case.

Affidavits that are sought by the defense are the three different sworn statements of the negro, Jim Conley, the affidavit given by the negro cook at the Frank home, Minola McKnight, the Formby affidavit and the affidavit of Monteen Stover, the girl who stated that she entered Frank’s office at a time when he said he was there, and found the office deserted.

The State will seek to obtain affidavits contradicting their theory and placing the crime on the negro sweeper, Jim Conley. These affidavits are said to deal principally with the time different witnesses entered and left the factory April 26, the most vital question in the trial.

Affidavits of Defense.

The defense is said to be in possession of affidavits that show Monteen Stover entered and departed from the factory before Mary Phagan’s car reached the heart of the city; that the negro Jim Conley entered the factory earlier in the day than he said he did, and that he, instead of the indicted pencil factory superintendent, committed the murder, because the superintendent left the factory at least ten minutes before Conley said he helped him dispose of the body, and that the Formby affidavit, a one-time sensational bit of evidence substantiating the defense, was given by the woman at the behest of the police detectives without regard for its accuracy, and that Mrs. Formby has since admitted that she never knew Leo M. Frank or heard of him until he was held as a suspect in connection with the murder.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 6th 1913, “New Move in Phagan Case by Solicitor,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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 →

Police Hold Conley By Court’s Order

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 11th, 1913

Judge Roan Gives Suspect Chance to Show Why He Should Not Be Released.

The Phagan case took a queer turn Wednesday afternoon when Judge Roan, apparently stirred by Luther Z. Rosser’s ar[r]aignment of the way Jim Conley has been “petted” by the police, issued notice to suspects in the mystery that they will be given opportunity Friday to show cause why the negro should not be released from custody as a suspect.

However, the move is strictly legal in character, Conley, through his attorney, W. M. Smith, having signed a written statement to stay in the custody of the police as a principal witness if previous orders are vacated and he is legally freed as a suspect.

Agrees to Remain.

Judge Roan informed Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey that he wanted to withdraw his previous order committing Conley to the police station so that the negro’s status could be definitely fixed and so that he could perhaps be sent back to the county jail. Both Conley and his attorney announced that the prisoner wanted to stay at police headquarters.

Smith also came forward with the agreement that Conley would remain in custody of the chief of police.

Sensations Ahead.

Judge Roan then issued what is known as a rule nial, informing Frank, Gordon Bailey, an elevator boy, and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, that they could be given a chance Friday to show why Conley should not be released.

Sensational developments may follow Friday if the Frank defense is allowed to present facts against Conley for Attorney Rosser is firmly convinced that the negro is the guilty man and has so announced.

Whether the negro shall be indicted as an accessory after or to the fact, or be continued to be held as a witness, will then be determined.

Napier Analyzes The Phagan Case.

The Georgian publishes the following letter written by George M. Napier, the well-known lawyer, on the Phagan case, as it gives for the first time a legal analysis of the case for and against Frank: Continue Reading →

Current in Effect on Day of Tragedy

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

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, June 7th, 1913

Report That Elevator in Pencil Factory Was Not Running Proves Groundless.

Following a widely-prevalent rumor that Leo Frank’s defense will strive to prove that the current was shut off from the pencil factory plant on the day Mary Phagan was slain, and that, for this reason, James Conley could not have lowered the girl’s body to the basement on the electrically-driven elevator as he claims in his confession, it was established conclusively last night that the Georgia Railway and Power company’s electric service was in effect on the tragedy day.

This statement was made to a Constitution reporter by S. Arthur Redding, general superintendent of the department of electricity of the local power concern. Mr. Redding investigated his reports of the murder date to ascertain whether or not the power was running into the pencil factory building on April 26, revealing that the service was effective.

A rumor was circulated Friday that an affidavit had been secured by the defense to the effect that the current was shut off from the entire building on the day of the murder. Luther Z. Rosser, Frank’s attorney, declared to a reporter for The Constitution that he knew nothing of such a document’s existence. He would not deny, however, that an affidavit of that nature had been obtained. He only said that word of its existence was “news to him.” 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


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.”


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

Report Negro Found Who Saw Phagan Attack


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

Atlanta Georgian

Friday, June 6th, 1913

St. Louis, June 6.—That a negro, who is alleged to have said he witnessed the murder of Mary Phagan in Atlanta, is under arrest in Cairo, Ill., and is about to be returned to Atlanta by a Pinkerton detective, was the information brought into St. Louis today by a passenger who declared he overheard a conversation betwene [sic] the detective and an attorney in the case who were on the train en route to Cairo.

According to the passenger, the negro has admitted that he was in Atlanta with a show at the time of the murder, and was shooting craps in the basement of the National Pencil Factory with a negro watchman when the watchman told him that he would attack the Phagan girl, which was done in his presence.

Inquiry at Cairo failed to-day to verify the report of the arrest of the negro.

Strenuous denials of any knowledge of the mysterious affidavit reported to have been made by Jim Conley, in which he was said to have confessed to A. S. Colyar that he murdered Mary Phagan, was made to Chief of Detectives Lanford Friday by both men.

Conley, on the grill, declared that he had never heard of Colyar until he read his name in the newspapers in connection with the pictograph controversy. The negro said he had never either talked with him or seen him, and that he had at no time made an affidavit other than the ones given to the police.

Colyar made a similar denial. Following the examination, Lanford declared that the whole report was wholly without foundation. He also stated that Conley had reiterated the truth of his former affidavit and that there was nothing further to add to it.

“I attribute this report to Colonel Felder’s work,” said the chief. “It merely shows again that Felder is in league with the defense of Frank; that the attorney is trying to muddy the waters of this investigation to shield Frank and throw the blame on another. Continue Reading →

Conley Sticks to His Story; Declares Detective Chief


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


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.


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 →

Cook Repudiates Entire Affidavit Police Possess


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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 5th, 1913

Utter repudiation of the affidavits which she was alleged to have sworn to incriminating conversations in the home of Leo M. Frank, indicted for the slaying of Mary Phagan, was made Thursday by Minola McKnight, negro cook for the accused factory superintendent and his wife’s parents.

The woman denies absolutely every statement attributed to her by the police, and denies that she even signed the paper made public by the police.

The Georgian presented the McKnight affidavit to its readers with the distinct admonition that it must not be accepted as credible evidence until passed on in a court of law. The affidavit was so full of strange incoherencies and the need for some explanation was so apparent that a further investigation was decided upon.

The cook’s statement, giving the case a new and startling turn, is therefore presented just as the police affidavit was—for what it is worth and not as evidence. It is an utter and absolute repudiation of the affidavit printed Wednesday and which purported to have been signed and sworn to by her.

She denied unequivocally that she had made the startling statements in the alleged affidavit which might send Leo Frank to the gallows could their truth be established beyond a doubt.

Repudiates Whole Affidavit.

She repudiated the alleged affidavit as a whole and in detail. She made her denials willingly and emphatically. There was no hesitation in her replies. Her first comment on the alleged affidavit constituted a complete and absolute denial of its truth.

Her statements were made at her home in the rear of 351 Pulliam Street. Only her husband, Albert McKnight, and the Georgian reporter were present. No member of the Frank family was about to influence her replies in any manner. If any influence could have been exerted it would be supposed to have been in the opposite direction, as it was her husband who was said indirectly to have furnished the information which resulted in her arrest and the three hours “third degree” in the office of Chief Lanford.

McKnight, however, furnished another sensation by declaring that he never had heard his wife say those things which he is reported to have told at the hardware shop of Beck & Gregg, and which resulted in her grilling. 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


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


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 Is Released on Signing Paper

cook-is-releasedAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

Minola McKnight, the negro cook at the home of Leo M. Frank, was released from custody by the police late Tuesday afternoon, after she had signed the sensational affidavit now in the possession of the detective department.

The woman had previously retained an attorney, who threatened habeas corpus proceedings.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, June 4th 1913, “Cook Is Released on Signing of Paper,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Frank’s Cook Was Counted Upon as Defense Witness


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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

While police activities have been turned to this line of investigation, the negro sweeper, Jim Conley, has been given a rest. Chief of Detectives Lanford stated that the negro would be quizzed no more.

Cook Counted on by Defense.

“If he has not told the whole truth,” said the Chief, “he will send for me within the next few days, I believe.”

The cook is one of the five witnesses upon whom the defense has relied to prove that Frank returned home for luncheon at 1:20 o’clock the Saturday afternoon of the murder and that he therefore could not have been in the office dictating the notes at the time James Conley, the negro sweeper, set in his affidavit.

Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig and Mrs. Frank will be three of the other witnesses called by the defense to prove the time Frank arrived home from the factory on the fatal day. An acquaintance will tell of seeing Frank on the street car that day, and another will relate riding back to town with Frank.

The detectives attached the greatest importance to her affidavit. In the hope of breaking her down, Ernest H. Pickett, of 295 Rawson Street, and Roy L. Craven, 11 Campbell Street, both employees at the Beck & Gregg hardware store, were sent into the room with her to fire questions at her.

Albert McKnight, husband of Minola, also works for the Beck & Gregg concern, and is said to have told Pickett and Craven that his wife had confided to him that Frank did not arrive home at the time he testified before the Coroner’s jury. The two men informed the officers of McKnight’s statement, and as a result the woman was arrested. She was taken first before Solicitor Dorsey, where she hysterically denied that she ever had made such remarks to her husband. She declared that she had a “fuss” with her husband, and that he was taking this means to get her into trouble.

Alibi Big Obstacle.

Unless the State is able to break down the alibis furnished by Frank in the manner attempted on the McKnight woman, the factory superintendent’s movements will be accounted for practically every moment on the day of the tragedy.

Mary Phagan entered the factory at about 12:05 in the afternoon. It is to be presumed that it was about 12:10 by the time he had received her pay envelope and had made the inquiries about the metal. Five minutes later Lemmie Quinn cam in the building. He went to the second floor, walked into the office and talked to Frank. The circumstance, the defense will be able to maintain precludes the possibility that Frank could have committed the crime up to this time. Mary Phagan was not in the office at the time and the natural presumption would be that he had left and had gone downstairs. Continue Reading →

Servant of Frank is Liberated After Long Examination


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

Atlanta Constitution

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

Despite Gruelling Third Degree, Woman Maintains Denial of Having Told Conflicting Stories.


Her Release Came After Her Attorney Had Threatened to Take Out Habeas Corpus Proceedings.

Minola McKnight, the servant girl held in the Mary Phagan case, was given her freedom early last night, and left police headquarters for her home on Pulliam street. She was not liberated, however, until the detectives had obtained her signature to an affidavit telling what she knew of Frank’s actions the day of the murder.

Her husband, who was also carried to the police station at noon, was freed a short while before his wife left the prison. He was present during the third degree of four hours, under which she was placed in the afternoon. He is said to have declared, even in the presence of his wife, that she had told conflicting stories of Frank’s conduct on the tragedy date.

She is reported as having denied the man’s statement in whole, clinging to her first story, which corroborated Frank’s story before the coroner’s jury. The detectives are silent regarding her statement; in fact, more so than during any other stage of the investigation. It is believed that on her story hinges a development fully as important as any of the results previously obtained.

Charge Is Suspicion.

The charge on which she was put in prison was “suspicion.” Her attorney, George Gordon, informed the authorities Tuesday afternoon that it was illegal to hold a person more than twenty-four hours on a suspicion charge, unless their charge was obviously well founded, and had threatened habeas corpus proceedings. No direct accusation could be made against the woman, and she therefore was entitled to the freedom given her at dusk.

The examination was through and exacting. It was conducted by Detective Starnes and Campbell at the order of Solicitor Dorsey, to whose office the two headquarters men have been attached throughout the Mary Phagan investigation. No one else connected with headquarters was admitted. Two strange men, however, whose identity was kept secret, were present.

After she had been quizzed to a point of exhaustion Secretary G. C. Febuary attached to Chief Lanford’s office was summoned to note her settlement in full.

Statement Long One.

It was the longest statement made by the woman since her connection with the mystery. It will be used, probably in the trial. The negress was calm and composed upon emerging from the examination. Continue Reading →

Cook’s Sensational Affidavit


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 →