Lee, Dull and Ignorant, Calm Under Gruelling Cross Fire

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman of the pencil factory, who telephoned police headquarters of the finding of Mary Phagan’s body at the pencil factory, was again placed upon the stand when court convened Tuesday for the second day’s session.

Attorney Luther Z. Rosser renewed his cross-fire of questions by which he sought to confuse the negro and secure new admissions or change valuable points in his testimony, and thus expose a vulnerable point for a concentrated attack upon his entire statement.

Mr. Rosser took up practically where he had left off the afternoon before.

“Newt, when you raised your lantern you walked forward a few feet. How far did you have to go before finding out what the object that attracted you was?” he began.

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Three Witnesses Describe Finding Mary Phagan’s Body

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

NEWT LEE STICKS TO ORIGINAL STORY DESPITE ATTEMPTS TO CONFUSE NEGRO

Striking Feature of Day’s Proceedings Was the Evident Effort on Part of Luther Rosser to Connect Watchman With Crime, or Show He Knew More Than He Has Told.

DORSEY SAYS DEFENSE IS TRYING TO IMPEACH TESTIMONY OF STARNES

Mr. Rosser Declared, However, That All He Was Trying to Do Was to Test the Memory of Detective Who Was Among First to Investigate the Murder of Mary Phagan in Factory.

During the second day’s proceedings of the Leo M. Frank trial the sensation for which the morbidly curious have been craning their necks failed to materialize.

Nothing that has not been printed in the papers was brought out.

The striking feature of the day’s proceedings was the evident effort on the part of Luther Rosser to connect Newt Lee with the commission of the crime, or to show that he knew more about the death of Mary Phagan than he has thus far told. As on the previous day, Lee stuck to his original story, and through hours of what would have been acute torture to a man of refined sensibilities he was stolid in reiterating the details of how he had found the body, and of Leo M. Frank’s words and actions on Memorial day, when the murder of Mary Phagan was committed.

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All Newt Wants Now is Freedom and a Hat

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

Atlanta Journal
July 30th, 1913

Now that Newt Lee has more ‘bacca, as he says, “than Mr. Rosser axed him questions,” he needs but a hat to complete his physical comfort, but freedom to set his mind at rest.

Newt’s only hat is a fur cap, which Newt thinks might have made a “ver’ putty Christmas gift when ’twas new, but don’t do much fer July.”

“You see, boss,” he explains, “a straw hat jes’ naturally looks cool, makes yer feel like you had money in your pocket. But there ain’t no use fer a cap and it furry in July.

“Man promised to bring me a hat, but I guess his memory’s bad. Leastways I ain’t seen anything of the hat. But I certainly is proud of de ‘bacca.”

Since Newt told Tuesday how one chew brought him solace after his cross-examination by Mr. Rosser; and how, when he was on the witness stand his thoughts were of ‘bacca, he has been given all sorts and kinds.

He says when he gets out he may take a day off to catch up on “chewing,” and that he would like a nice hat to wear then.

Rosser’s Examination of Lee Just a Shot in Dark; Hoped to Start Quarry

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 30th, 1913

By JAMES B. NEVIN.

If Mr. Luther Z. Rosser’s bite is one-half so dangerous as his growl undoubtedly is disconcerting and awe-inspiring, there will be little save shreds and patches of the prosecution left when the State comes eventually to sum up its case against Leo Frank.

Rosser’s examination of Newt Lee was one of the most nerve racking and interesting I ever listened to.

It reminded me much of a big mastiff worrying and teasing a huge brown rat, and grimly bent eventually upon the rat’s utter annihilation.

A witness up against one of Rosser’s might bombardments is in a decidedly uncomfortable predicament—no doubt about that!

True, Lee snapped back at Rosser and growled angrily every little bit, and strove this way and that to get away from the insistent prod of the tremendously menacing mass of humanity forever in front of him, worrying, teasing, sneering, and threatening, but he could not.

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Trial of Leo M. Frank on Charge of Murder Begins; Mrs. Coleman, George Epps and Newt Lee on Stand

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

WATCHMAN TELLS OF FINDING BODY OF MARY PHAGAN

Trial Adjourns for the Day While Lee Is on the Stand, and His Cross-Questioning Will Be Resumed Today.

MOTHER AND THE WIFE OF PRISONER CHEER HIM BY PRESENCE AT TRIAL

Jury Is Quickly Secured and Mrs. Coleman, Mother of the Murdered Girl, Is First Witness to Take Stand.

With a swiftness which was gratifying to counsel for the defense, the solicitor general and a large crowd of interested spectators, the trial of Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan on April 26, in the building of the National Pencil factory, was gotten under way Monday.

When the hour of adjournment for the day had arrived, the jury had been selected and three witnesses had been examined. Newt Lee, the nightwatchman who discovered the dead body of Mary Phagan in the basement of the National Pencil factory, and who gave the first news of the crime to the police, was still on the stand, undergoing rigid cross-examination by Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Frank.

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Mother’s Sorrow and Newsie’s Wit Play on Emotions at Frank Trial

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

Atlanta Journal
July 29th, 1913

Each of First Three Witnesses In Case Shows Distinct Personality and Entirely Different Side of Human Nature, Some Character Studies

Three of the witnesses who testified Monday afternoon at the Frank trial were more distinct as personalities than the characters you could see portrayed in any theater, except that very tragic one of a criminal court room.

Much testimony and such individuality as that of these witnesses, has kept the court room crowded by at least 200 people during every minute of the Frank trial—crowded with well dressed men who lean forward in their seats, intent on every detail of the trial, every question that the attorneys ask, every answer that the witnesses give.

They are first attracted to the court room by different reasons for curiosity: but they remain because of their common interest in “character.” In having a glimpse of distinct personalities, in seeing the stubbornness with which Newt Lee adheres to his testimony while lawyers try to confound him.

SORROW OF MOTHER.

Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan, was first of the three witnesses who testified Monday afternoon. She spoke in a low voice, telling of how her daughter had left home on the day of the murder, and she seemed to have finished her testimony, when a court officer drew forth a suitcase which had been hidden behind several chairs.

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Lawyers Hammer Lee for Two Hours at Monday Afternoon Session

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

Atlanta Journal
July 29th, 1913

Negro Nightwatchman Who Found Mary Phagan’s Body in National Pencil Factory on Stand—Girl’s Mother and Newsboy Examined

Newt Lee, the negro nightwatchman who found Mary Phagan’s body in the pencil factory basement, was hammered by the defense for over two hours, on the witness stand Monday afternoon.

Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of the murdered child, and George W. Epps, a playmate who came to town with her on the fatal day, testified in that order. Mrs. Coleman being the first witness called to the stand when the trial started.

Newt Lee was the third witness. The testimony of the others had been brief, under direct and cross-examination. Newt Lee’s direct testimony was not extensive, but his evidence under cross-examination by Attorney Luther Rosser filled out the rest of the afternoon, and he still was on the stand under cross-examination when court recessed for the night.

At 3 o’clock court re-convened.

The jury, which had lunched in a downtown restaurant under guard of two deputy sheriffs, and then had been locked in its room, entered court.

Leo M. Frank, the accused, re-entered court and resumed his seat between his wife and his mother.

Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan, the murdered girl, was called as the first witness. She took the stand at 3:05 o’clock.

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Mincey in Atlanta, But Has Not Been to Trial

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

Atlanta Journal
July 29th, 1913

Agent Who Said That Conley Told Him of Killing “a Girl” May Testify

W. H. Mincey, who has made affidavit that James Conley, the negro sweeper, practically confessed to him as being the murderer of Mary Phagan, is in Atlanta but has not yet gone to the courthouse where Frank is being tried.

At the time of the murder, Mincey was employed here as an insurance solicitor. On the day of the murder, he says that he met Conley at the corner of Carter and Electric streets.

The negro, according to the affidavit, was drinking, and when the solicitor mentioned insurance the negro flared into anger.

“I’ve killed a girl today,” the affidavit charges Conley, the negro sweeper, with having said, “I don’t want to hurt anybody else.”

Several weeks ago Mincey left Atlanta to take a position as school teacher. But attorneys for the defense say that he has returned, and is now here.

After Rosser’s Fierce Grilling All Negro, Newt Lee, Asked for Was Chew or “Bacca-AnyKind”

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 29th, 1913

He Looks Like a Negro, He Talks Like a Negro, and He Has the Will and the Manner of Darkies in Old-Time Slavery Days—Was on the Stand Three Hours Tuesday Morning

“All I wanted was a chew of ‘bacca. Yes, sir, dat was all,” said Newt Lee after he had testified for three hours Tuesday morning at the Frank trial, had answered question upon question, had experienced all the exquisite delights of a real cross-examination.

“I can’t say I was tired. Naw, sir, not ‘zactly that I jes’ needed the ‘bacca. Soon as I left the stand, the first thing I did was to ask for a chew, and then I felt all right.

“Mr. Rosser was putty terrible, wasn’t he? Sorter wants you to say things jes his way. But I was there to tell the truf and I told it.

“LAWYERS AND DETECTIVES.”

“Lawyers and detectives are sorter alike when the comes to askin’ questions. I’d ’bout as soon be talked to by one as another. Lawyers, though, don’t ‘buse youn like detectives, that’s a fact.

“But when folks don’t do you right, you jes know they hurtin’ they souls and ain’t doin’ you any real harm. That’s the way to look at things.

“Naw, sir, I didn’t get mad when Mr. Rosser kept tryin’ to make me say what he wanted said. Court’s a place where you ‘spect to be questioned, and there ain’t nothin’ to do but jes answer the best you kin. They certainly worked on me, but all I needed was a little bit of ‘bacca.

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Frequent Clashes Over Testimony Mark Second Day of Frank Trial

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

Atlanta Journal
July 29th, 1913

QUESTIONS DIRECTED AT NEGRO INDICATED AN EFFORT TO THROW SUSPICION UPON WATCHMAN

We Might as Well Begin to Show the Negro a Criminal Now as Later,” Declared Attorney Rosser, In Arguing for Admissability of His Questions—Negro Was Taken Over His Testimony Many Times in Effort to Break Him Down

INDICATIONS TUESDAY ARE THAT TRIAL WILL LAST MANY DAYS, PROBABLY AS LONG AS TWO WEEKS

Morning Session Enlivened by Clashes Between Attorneys, Every Point Is Bitterly Contested—Frank Keeps Serene and Untroubled Throughout Session—Full Story of Testimony Given by Witnesses During the Morning

After a luncheon recess of an hour and a half Tuesday the trial of Leo M. Frank was resumed at 2 p. m. with Police Sergeant L. S. Dobbs still on the witness stand. The morning session was given over to the continued examination of Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, and the direct and cross examination of Sergeant Dobbs.

There were frequent clashes between the attorneys for the defense and the solicitor during the morning. Every point was bitterly contested, and once the jury was sent from the room while the lawyers argued the fine points of the law. It was evident that the case was to be fought at every point.

The most significant feature of the morning session was an intimation by Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, counsel for Frank, that they might seek to connect the negro nigh watchman with the murder. It was during a colloquy between the lawyers for the defense and the state relative to the admissibility of the negro’s testimony as to what was said to him by the police officers about the contents of the notes found beside Mary Phagan’s body.

Solicitor Dorsey made the point that the notes had not yet been introduced as evidence and unless the defense was seeking to impeach the witness or to connect him with the crime it was not proper for him to questioned concerning the contents of the notes.

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Lee’s Quaint Answers Rob Leo Frank’s Trial of All Signs of Rancor

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 29th, 1913

By L. F. Woodruff

A page was ripped from a story of Harris Dickson. “Old Reliable” was paraded in the life in as somber a setting as was ever conceived and the temper of the audience that is following the fortunes of Leo Frank through his struggle for life and liberty was revealed.

Some sinister things have been said of the spirit of Atlanta in reference to the trial of the pencil factory superintendent as the slayer of Mary Phagan. It was whispered once that the law would not be allowed to take its course, but that, those who believe Frank guilty would take vengeance as their own.

And, on the other hand, it has been said in sotto voce that the purses of Frank’s friends would be opened to the last penny to see that he receives a verdict of acquittal.

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Defense Wins Point After Fierce Lawyers’ Clash

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 29th, 1913

STATE TRIES TO SHOW GIRL WAS STRANGLED ON THE SECOND FLOOR

Here are Tuesday’s important developments in the trial of Leo M. Frank on the charge of murdering Mary Phagan in the National Pencil Factory, Saturday, April 26.

Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the pencil factory, leaves the stand after four hours and forty minutes of examination and cross-examination with the essential points of his story unshaken.

Efforts to discredit the negro’s story result only in showing several discrepancies in the story he told before the Coroner’s jury and his testimony on the stand at the trial.

All attempts to confuse Lee by telling him that the stenographer’s report of the inquest has him making slightly different statements met invariably with his declaration that “they didn’t get it right down there.”

L. S. Dobbs, police sergeant, testifies to the finding of the body of the Phagan girl and says that Lee had a ready interpretation of the two notes when they were found by the dead body.

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No New Testimony Will Be Given to Jury by Newt Lee

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

Atlanta Journal
July 28th, 1913

Negro Nightwatchman Says He Doesn’t Know Conley, the Sweeper—Merely Will Repeat Story of Finding Body

Newt Lee’s testimony to the jury, before which Leo M. Frank is to be tried, will repeat his statements to the police. He will add nothing new, and will give no testimony involving Conley, the negro sweeper.

To the jury, as to the police, Newt Lee will describe merely how he found the body of the murdered child in the cellar of the pencil factory, and afterward told the police of his discovery.

As he waited at the court house with other witnesses Monday morning, he said that Conley, the sweeper is unknown to him, and that he has told all that he can tell.

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Mary Phagan’s Mother Testifies

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Newt Lee Repeats His Story in Court Room

Negro Watchman Swears Frank Acted Oddly Day of Crime

Here are the important developments in the trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan.

Jury chosen at 1:30 p. m.

Mrs. Coleman, girl’s mother, takes stand after recess, at 3:15, and tells of Mary leaving for the factory 11:45 a. m. on April 26.

George W. Epps, boy companion of Mary Phagan, repeats his story that he had an engagement to meet her on the afternoon of the fatal day.

Newt Lee, night watchman at the factory, begins his story of the finding of the body and subsequent developments.

Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of murdered Mary Phagan, was the first witness for the prosecution at the trial of Leo Frank Monday afternoon. After answering several questions she broke down completely when the solicitor exhibited the little lavender skirt worn by her daughter when she last saw her alive. She covered her face with a fan and for several minutes could not answer a question.

The first question asked her was:

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Defense Claims Conley and Lee Prepared Notes

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

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

Theory Is That Watchman Surprised Sweeper Attempting to Dispose of Body and Entered Into Pact.

An amazing chain of evidence, laying bare the mystery of the two notes found beside the body of Mary Phagan, which have proved the most baffling of all the facts connected with the girl’s murder, came to light as in the possession of the defense Saturday.

According to the theory of the defense, Conley murdered the girl and was unexpectedly discovered with her body in the basement of the pencil factory by Newt Lee; that the night watchman declared the blame for the murder would be placed upon himself instead of Conley, and that the two notes, laying the blame upon the negro fireman Knoyls, and openly accusing the night watchman of the crime, sealed an agreement of secrecy between Lee and Conley.

Motive of Notes.

The first note, written by Conley, to soothe Lee’s fears, is believed to have been the one reading:

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Frank Fights for Life Monday

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

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

Dorsey Ready to Avenge Mary Phagan

Mystery of Months Is Still Unsolved

Most Bitter Legal Battle in History of Atlanta Courts Is Expected—Case Will Probably Last for Weeks.

After three months of mystery in the death of Mary Phagan, a climax is at hand more tense, more dramatic, more breathlessly interesting to Atlanta and all Georgia than any situation of fiction. Leo M. Frank, employer of the little girl whose tragic death, April 26, stirred a State, will be brought to trial Monday on the charge that he killed her.

Frank’s trial is the crowning event of the hundred thrilling circumstances surrounding the tragedy. Whatever the outcome, regardless of Frank’s conviction or acquittal, the incidents that follow the trial will come as an anti-climax. The prosecution has cast almost all its chances for solving the mystery into the case it has prepared against Frank. Its heavy guns are trained against the factory superintendent. It has opposed the indictment of the single other suspect, the negro Jim Conley. The enthralled interest of a public has been pitched about the question: Is Leo Frank guilty?

FRANK DRAMA’S CENTRAL FIGURE.

Even the pitiful figure of the little factory girl, mysteriously slain, has become subordinate in interest to that of Frank. The young man’s own personality, his steadfastly loyal and loving family, his friends who affirm his innocence in the face of a dark suspicion, all have become factors in making Frank the central figure of the crime drama.

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Conley and Lee Meet in Tower

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 24th, 1913

For First Time Since Mary Phagan Was Killed Two Negroes Are Brought Face to Face.

James Conley, a sweeper at the National Pencil factory, and Newt Lee, night watchman, who carried the police to where Mary Phagan’s body lay on the morning of April 27, were brought face to face yesterday afternoon in the tower by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey and Frank A. Hooper, an attorney who is aiding the solicitor.

J. M. Gantt was taken there by the attorneys, as he knew Conley while both were working for the pencil factory. Attorney Hooper stated after that nothing of importance was gained by the meeting of the ntwo negroes, except that Conley declared at the meeting that Lee had nothing to do with the crime.

The negroes were questioned together for about two hours, and then Conley was taken back to police station. The entire story of each one was gone over thoroughly by the attorneys, who wished to see if they would stick to what they told at first.

Frank and State Ready.

The state, through Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, has declared its readiness to go on with the trial of Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, on next Monday, the date set by Judge L. S. Roan, and as Frank himself asserted to Sheriff C. W. Mangum in the Tower yesterday that he was ready and anxious for the trial to proceed, it appears that no postponement will be asked.

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Fight Expected Over Effort to Defer Frank Case

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

Atlanta Journal
July 23, 1913

No Witnesses for Defense Have Been Called for Monday, and Indications Are They Will Not Be

CRAWFORD CASE CHECKED TO DATE OF FRANK TRIAL

Attorney R. R. Arnold May Go to Covington to Request Judge L. S. Roan to Postpone Case

While the position of the defense of Leo M. Frank has not been announced, Attorney Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold have indicated clearly that they desire to postpone the trial of case from next Monday, when it is set. Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, on the other hand, has announced the state’s position. He will fight any and every move to postpone the case.

The solicitor general objected, when the case was postponed from June 30, the date he first fixed, and fought to have a date earlier than July 28 when he then saw that postponement was inevitable. Now he is again preparing to fight against further delay.

Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor was instructed by Judge L. S. Roan, to bring the jury box to Judge John T. Pendleton with the request that he draw the venire for the trial on Thursday morning before the trial judge left to hold court this week in Covington.

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Second Chapter in Phagan Mystery

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 23rd, 1913

The Discovery of the Body of the Slain Factory Girl and Start of Hunt for Slayer.

CHAPTER II.

His heart pounding in superstitious fright, Newt Lee, the night watchman, forced himself to approach the strange object on the pile of debris in the pencil factory basement. A step nearer and he could make out what appeared to be a human foot. He recoiled and was on the point of precipitate flight.

But he must look closer, he thought. Perhaps, after all, it was only the ghastly prank of some of the factory employees who had manufactured a rude effigy and placed it there to scare him.

Determinedly he walked closer and thrust his lantern out over the mysterious object. He shrieked. Before his horrified eyes the shaky and uncertain light of his lantern disclosed the body of a little girl.

Grimed, bloody and mutilated the body lay on the flat of its back, as the terrified negro remembered it afterward, although the police, coming a few minutes later, found the body on its face, one arm drawn slightly up under the body and the other stretched full length at the side.

Discrepancy Not Explained.

This strange discrepancy never has been explained to the public except by the possibility that Lee, in his terror, was mistaken in the position he believed the body was in when he discovered it. Conley, telling his remarkable story three weeks later, said that he dumped the girl’s body face downward on the trash pile where it later was come upon by Lee.

Lee was to oappalled [sic] by his grewsome find to make a close investigation. He only saw that it was a little white girl and that she had been murdered. With frightened steps he hurried to the ladder at the other end of the basement. He was in a panic. He scuttled up the ladder and dropped the trap door over it. He felt a bit relieved away from the blackness of the basement and the awful thing that it contained.

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Grim Justice Pursues Mary Phagan’s Slayer

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 20, 1913

As Famous Murder Case Nears Trial the Public Mind Again Reverts to the Discovery of the Crime; and Again the Great Question Comes Up:

“What Happened in the Pencil Factory Between Noon Saturday and 3:15 Sunday Morning?”

By Britt Craig.

Automobile in which detectives and newspaper men went to the scene of the murder. In the machine are Detective Starnes, Harry Scott, W. W. (Boots) Rogers and John Black.

There are things that happen right before our eyes that defy the pen of a god to describe. The mind of a master would find itself lamentably incompetent, and the words of a Demosthenes would become panic-stricken in the attempt.

One of these was the night Mary Phagan’s body was found. It was a night as dramatic as the fury of a queen and poignant as her sorrow. It wrote the first thrilling chapter of Atlanta’s greatest criminal case, and it will live forever in the minds of those who knew it.

This story is no effort at description, because description is impossible. It is just a plain, ordinary story of the happenings that night when Newt Lee went down into the basement to wash his hands and emerged, overcome with fear, the discoverer of a crime that put an entire state in mourning.

A week from tomorrow, Leo Frank, manager of the pencil factory, where Mary Phagan’s body was found, will be placed on trial charged with the murder of the young girl, and interest in this mysterious crime again goes back to the night when Newt Lee startled police headquarters with news of his grewsome find.

Finding the Body.

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