Lay Bribery Effort to Frank’s Friends

Mrs. Nina Fomby, woman who made affidavit that Leo M. Frank had telephoned to her on the day of Mary Phagan's death trying to get a room for himself and a girl.

Mrs. Nina Fomby, woman who made affidavit that Leo M. Frank had telephoned to her on the day of Mary Phagan’s death trying to get a room for himself and a girl.

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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, May 26th, 1913

Chief of Detectives Lanford was given two papers Monday accusing friends of Leo M. Frank of attempting to bribe a man and a woman to swear that they saw Mary Phagan at 10:30 Saturday night, April 26, at a soda fountain at Marietta and Forsyth Streets.

These papers were given Lanford by A. S. Colyar, whose entrance into the Phagan case has been marked by one sensation after another. Colyar told Lanford that the papers were copies of sworn affidavits and that he had the originals which he would produce at the proper time. The copies are not signed.

Haas Denies Charge.

Emphatic denial that he had in any manner resorted to bribery in behalf of Frank was made by Herbert Haas, well-known Atlanta attorney and friend of the pencil factory superintendent. Mr. Haas further declared that any intimation that he had sought to bribe anyone was absolutely false.

Two Affidavits Alleged.

Colyar said that one of the affidavits was signed by the woman it was sought to bribe and the other by the man, a traveling salesman. Five hundred dollars each is said by the alleged of the affidavits to have been offered to the man and the woman for their testimony.

Colyar alleges that the woman was brought here from Birmingham with the intention of inducing her to swear to the statement that she saw Mary Phagan late Saturday night. He said that he knew where she was at the present time, although the friends of Frank though that she had left the city. 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 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 →

State Didn’t Show its Case to Secure Indictment Against Superintendent Leo M. Frank

State Didn'tAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Sunday, May 24th, 1913

No Documentary Evidence Was Placed Before the Grand Jury and James Conley, the Negro Sweeper Who Made Sensational Affidavit About Writing Certain Notes at Frank’s Dictation on Day Before Tragedy, Was Not Examined by the Jury


Both the Other Two Witnesses Gave Their Opinion in the Affirmative—Complete Summary of Evidence on Which the Grand Jury Decided That Frank Must Stand Trial for Death of Girl—Has Lee Given New Evidence to His Attorney?

While Solicitor General H. M. Dorsey will make no statement, it is undoubtedly true that the state did not show “its hand” even in the secrecy of the grand jury room to secure the indictment Saturday of Leo M. Frank on the charge of murdering Mary Phagan.

Sharing interest with the returning of a true bill against the factory superintendent, is the sensational eleventh hour statement of James Conley that he wrote certain notes similar in language to those found by the murdered Mary Phagan at Mr. Frank’s dictation.

Despite the fact that Conley stuck to his story when vigorously cross examined by Solicitor Dorsey, it is said that the official does not fully credit the negro’s sensational statement.

It was not necessary to put the negro before the grand jury and Mr. Dorsey did not go into the details of his statement until after the true bill had been returned.

Even then he did not consider Conley’s statement of sufficient importance to secure from a safety deposit vault the notes found by the slain girl’s body, and they have never been offered to Conley for identification.

The effect of the negro’s statement on the state’s whole case is known to the solicitor alone. Its influence is apparently disturbing, and it has been said that the solicitor was preparing to introduce finger print and handwriting experts in an effort to show that Frank himself wrote the words on the two sheets of paper found in the basement of the National Pencil factory on the morning of April 27.

If Conley’s story can not be shaken, the experts will not be needed unless it is to swear to the similarity of his handwriting to that of the notes. 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 →

The Phagan Case Day by Day

The Phagan Case Day by DayAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution

Monday, May 12th, 1913

The history of the baffling Phagan mystery, daily recorded, is briefly as follows:

Sunday April 26—Girl’s body found in basement of pencil factory. Newt Lee, negro night watchman, who made discovery, arrested. Arthur Mullinax, street car employee, also arrested. Both held on suspicion.

Monday—Leo M. Frank, factory superintendent, detained, but later released. J. M. Gantt, former bookkeeper of pencil concern and friend of dead girl, arrested in Marietta. Negro elevator boy also taken into custody. Pinkertons enter case.

Tuesday—Bloody shirt found at negro watchman’s home. Planted evidence theory advanced. Mary Phagan’s body buried. Sleuths announce they have evidence to convict. Frank confers with negro suspect.

Wednesday—Inquest begins. Newt Lee testifies. One hundred and fifty pencil factory employees summoned before coroner. George Epps, newsboy, tells of ride to uptown with Mary Phagan on her last trip.

Thursday—Frank and Lee ordered to Fulton tower on warrants issued by Coroner Donehoo. Trip made without incident. Continue Reading →

Public Now Knows All Facts in Murder Case, Say Detectives

Public Now Knows All Facts in Murder Case, Say Detectives

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

Atlanta Journal

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Pinkertons Declare the State Has No Evidence of Importance That Hasn’t Been Given to the Newspapers


Chief Lanford Believes He Is One of Sheriff’s Capable Deputies—Gantt Questioned, Newt Lee Has Lawyer

The probe into the mystery of little Mary Phagan’s death two weeks ago still goes on.

The small army of professional, amateur, city, state and private detectives which took up the chase of the murderer soon after the horrible details of the crime became known still pursues the investigation with unabated vigor.

Solicitor Dorsey’s detective, heralded as the best in the world and admitted by the solicitor to be an A-1man, remains a mystery. Mr. Dorsey refuses to divulge his identity, and even the attaches of his office profess not to know his name. Continue Reading →

Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor

Guard of Secrecy is Thrown About Phagan Search by Solicitor

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

Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Names of Witnesses Withheld by Dorsey to Prevent “Manufacturers of Public Opinion” Getting in Touch with Them—Satisfied with Progress.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey declared Saturday afternoon that he was very well satisfied with the progress made in the investigation of the Phagan murder mystery and made the significant remark that he would not reveal the names of new witnesses so that manufacturers of public opinion could not get to them.

The Solicitor held a conference with Dr. H. F. Harris, of the State Board of Health, who examined the girl’s body. Dr. Harris said he would rush his report in time for presentation to the Grand Jury when that body takes up the mystery next week. The Solicitor would not reveal just what the physician has learned so far.

The examination of the bloodstained shirt in the back yard of Newt Lee’s home was also continued, and the Solicitor was far from convinced that its significance had been rightly determined.

Mr. Dorsey worked all day Saturday on the case and announced that he would continue all of Sunday so that he could present his evidence to the Grand Jury as early as possible next week.

Confers With City Sleuths

A conference was held with the city detectives, who are working in co-operation with the State, but none of the details could be learned. Strict secrecy is being maintained regarding new developments. Continue Reading →

Girl Will Swear Office of Frank Deserted Between 12:05 and 12:10

Girl Will Swear Office of Frank Deserted

Monteen Stover. Little girl, former employee of National Pencil company, who swears Frank was not in office between 12:05 and 12:10 o’clock.

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

Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, May 10th, 1913

Testimony Considered Important by Officers Because Frank at the Inquest Stated on Stand That He Did Not Leave Between Noon on Saturday and 12:25. When Quinn Came to See Him.


New Evidence, Just Submitted to Detective Department, Leads Chief Lanford to Believe That Mary Phagan Was Murdered in the Basement — Woman Says She Heard Screams on Saturday Afternoon.

A new and important witness has been found in the Mary Phagan murder mystery.

She is Monteen Stover, a girl of 14 years, a former employee of the pencil factory.

After already having attested to an affidavit now in possession of the solicitor general, she will testify before the grand jury that on the day of Mary Phagan’s disappearance, she entered the pencil plant at 12:05 o’clock in the afternoon and found the office deserted.

Also, that she remained five minutes, during which time no one appeared. The building seemed empty of human occupants, she declares, and no sounds came from any part. Expecting to have found the superintendent, she says she went through both the outer and inner offices in search of Frank.

Testimony Important Declare Police.

The police say that this is valuable evidence because of the testimony of Frank at the inquest to the effect that he remained in his office throughout the time between 12 noon and the time at which Quinn arrived, 35 minutes after 12. Also, they recount his statement that Mary Phagan entered the building at 12:05, the time the Stover girl says she arrived. Continue Reading →