Phagan Case Centers on Conley; Negro Lone Hope of Both Sides

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 6, 1913

*Editor’s Note: See insert article, “Decisions Which May Aid Defense of Frank”, at the conclusion of this post.

Frank Expects Freedom by Breaking Down Accuser’s Testimony, and State a Conviction by Establishing Truth of Statements.

BY AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

The developments in the Phagan case have been of late highly significant and interesting.

During the past week, it became evident that the very heart and soul of both the prosecution and the defense is to center largely about the negro, James Conley.

He is at once apparently the hope and the despair of both sides to the contest!

This circumstance, however, while tending to add much to the dramatic and the uncertain, in so far as the outcome is concerned, is not by any means an unusual thing in cases of this kind.

It frequently happens in mysterious murder cases that both the State and the defense must pin their faith to one and the same witness.

Of late there has been some talk of the Grand Jury indicting Conley, even over the Solicitor General’s head, which, of course, it would have a perfect right to do.

The thought occurred to me some time ago that the case might take that direction, but in the article in which that point was discussed, I mentioned it incidentally, rather than as a likely thing.

Indictment may Mean Much.

Continue Reading →

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 →

Conley is Unwittingly Friend of Frank, Says Old Police Reporter

conley-isAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, June 1st, 1913

By AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

Developments came thick and fast during the past week, and one is able to approach consideration of the Phagan case to-day with more assurance and ease of mind than heretofore.

Distinctly have the clouds lifted, so I think, from about Leo Frank, and if not yet are they “in the deep bosom of the ocean buried,” they have, nevertheless I take it, served to let a measure of the sunshine in.

Leo Frank, snatching eagerly at that faltering ray of blessed and thrice-welcome light, may thank the negro Conley for it—albeit Conley let it in neither by way of an impulse of sympathy nor intentional truth.

If I were a de-tec-i-tiff—which, praise be to Allah, I am not!—I think I should cease shouting from the housetops my unshakable belief in Frank’s guilt, and should begin to contemplate in solemn and searching analysis the shifty and amazing James Conley, negro!

It is my opinion, bluntly stated, that Conley is an unmitigated liar, all the way through, and that the truth is not in him!

His statement appeals to me an Old Police Reporter—and not a de-tec-i-tiff, again praise be to Allah!—as distinctly the weightiest document in Leo Frank’s favor that yet has been promulgated.

Would Belong in Asylum.

Certainly, if Frank DID do the astonishing things Conley attributes to him, he should not be sent to the gallows, in any event, for he surely belongs in Milledgeville, safely held in the State lunatic asylum. But, more of Conley hereafter. The issue of murder has been made with Leo Frank, and he must face trial. The Grand Jury has indicted him, and he will be arraigned in due time and in order.

It will be a finish fight between the State and the defendant. There can be no compromise now—either Frank is guilty or he is innocent, and the truth of that is for twelve men, “good and true,” to say. Continue Reading →

Old Police Reporter Analyzes Mystery Phagan Case Solution Far Off, He Says

Old Police Reporter Analyzes Mystery Phagan Case Solution Far Off He Says

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

Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, May 4th, 1913

Problem of Slaying in Pencil Factory One That Never May Be Cleared, Declares Crime Expert.

BY AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

Perhaps as many of the great murder mysteries of history have been solved through the efforts of police reporters—men assigned by newspapers to “cover” criminal cases—as have been solved by detectives. At any rate the police will always admit that police reporters have had a large part in unraveling the knotty problems. In a case of this sort the police reporter’s analysis is particularly good, for he is simply seeking the truth. He, unlike the police, is not held responsible for the production of the criminal, and therefore whatever line of thought he pursues is solely in the interests of clearing up a baffling mystery. As such the accompanying article is presented.

One week ago today a pretty fourteen-year-old girl, Mary Phagan, was found dead in the basement of the National Pencil Company, at 39 South Forsyth Street.

In the week that has elapsed, little, if anything, has been discovered tending to show who committed the crime.

I say this without reserve, but without knowing that information the detectives and police force may have that has not yet been made public.

What has been made public is far from convincing. And in an attempt to consider this most mysterious case in a calm and judicial way, we can deal only with such facts as we have before us, not with facts that may come later. Continue Reading →