Machinist Tells of Finding Blood, Hair and Pay Envelope On Second Floor, Where State Claims Girl Was Murdered

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

Atlanta Journal
July 31st, 1913


Pay Envelope Was Found Near Machine Used by Mary Phagan Some Days Later—Find of Strands of Hair on Lathe Was Reported to Quinn, Who Notified Darley—Mell Stanford and Magnolia Kennedy Also Saw It


Mell Stanford and Harry Scott Also Tell of Finding Blood Spots, but Scott’s Testimony Is Not Entirely Satisfactory to Either State or Defense—Monteen Stover on the Stand. Will Conley Testify in Rebuttal Only?

New and sensational testimony for the state was given by R. P. Barrett, a machinist at the National Pencil factory where Mary Phagan was murdered on April 26, when Barrett Thursday afternoon declared from the witness stand that he had discovered early Monday morning following the tragedy a large blood spot, surrounded by a number of smaller spots, at the water cooler near the dressing room on the second floor of the factory. Barrett testified further that he had found a broom nearby which from its appearance evidently had been used to smear the large blood spot over with a white substance.

Barrett testified further that on the same morning he had found strands of hair on the lathe of the machine used by him and that he had called this discovery to the attention of Magnolia Kennedy, Mell Stanford and Lemmie Quinn, and that Quinn had notified Darley. The solicitor developed through Barrett’s testimony that no girls had been at the factory since Friday afternoon before the crime, his purpose evidently being to show that the hair must have been that of Mary Phagan. In addition to this testimony, Barrett swore that a few days after the murder he had found in the area near Mary Phagan’s machine a portion of a pay envelope. There was nothing on the envelope to positively identify it as having belonged to Mary Phagan.

The fact that blood spots were found in the metal room on the second floor was also established by the state through the testimony of Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective, and Mell Stanford, an employe of the factory.

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Defense to Make Next Move in Phagan Case

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

Atlanta Journal

Monday, June 9th, 1913

Apparently Prosecuting Officials Consider Their Investigation Complete

Chief of Detectives Lanford has announced that Jim Conley, the negro sweeper, who is the state’s principal witness in the case against Leo M. Frank, indicted for the murder of Mary Phagan, will not be cross-examined again unless he voluntarily sends for the officers to make a statement.

It is known that no developments have changed the theory of the prosecuting authorities, and it is apparent from the remark of Chief Lanford and other statements that the officials consider the investigation of the Phagan murder as complete, and are now waiting for the big legal fight to be staged before Judge L. S. Roan probably on Monday, June 30.

With the state “resting on its oars,” it is naturally expected that the next move, if there is to be one, will come from the defense of Mr. Frank.

To forecast any “move” which may be made by the defense before the case actually comes before the court, is a difficult proposition since Luther Z. Rosser, the leading counsel, continues silent.

It is known that friends of the accused man have been actively at work in his behalf, but what they have developed remains a matter for conjectures.

Frank spent a quiet day in the tower Sunday and was visited by his wife and quite a number of the friends, who are standing by him in his trouble.

R. P. Barrett, one of the foreman at the National Pencil factory, and the man who found the strands of hair on the lathe in the metal room, has issued a statement giving his reason for sharing the opinion of practically all of the pencil factory employees, that the negro Conley is guilty of the crime with which the factory superintendent is charged.

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Atlanta Journal, June 9th 1913, “Defense to Make Next Move in Phagan Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Foreman Tells Why He Holds Conley Guilty

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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 9th, 1913

R. P. Barrett, in Letter to Georgian, Gives Reasons for Suspecting Negro of Crime.

R. P. Barrett, foreman of the metal department at the National Pencil Factory, in a letter to The Georgian Monday, gives his reasons for believing that Jim Conley, negro sweeper at the plant, attacked and strangled Mary Phagan.

It was Barrett who found the strands of hair on the lathing machine in his department. This is supposed to be where the girl was thrown against the machine in her struggles.

Later Barrett testified positively that the blood stains in the second floor were not there before the crime. He is certain that the girl was attacked on the second floor and just as certain that Conley, not Frank was the slayer.

The letter reads: Continue Reading →

The Leo Frank Trial: Week Three

Leo-Frank-suit-portrait_crop-340x264Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

The trial of Leo Frank (pictured) for the murder of Mary Phagan ended its third week 100 years ago today. Join us as we break through the myths surrounding the case and investigate what really happened.

by Bradford L. Huie

AS THE THIRD WEEK of the trial dawned, the prosecution had just made its case that National Pencil Company Superintendent Leo Max Frank had murdered 13-year-old laborer Mary Phagan — and a powerful case it was. Now it was the defense’s turn — and the defense team was a formidable one, the best that money could buy in 1913 Atlanta, led by Reuben Arnold and Luther Rosser. And many would argue that the city’s well-known promoter and attorney Thomas B. Felder was also secretly working for Frank and his friends, along with the two biggest detective agencies in the United States, the Burns agency — sub rosa, under the direction of Felder — and the Pinkertons — openly, cooperating with the police, and under the direction of the National Pencil Company. (For background on this case, read our introductory article, our coverage of Week One and Week Two of the trial, and my exclusive summary of the evidence against Frank.)

As the defense began its parade of witnesses, few suspected that the defendant himself, Leo Frank, would soon take the stand and make an admission so astonishing that it strained belief. 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 →

Frank Tried to Flirt With Murdered Girl Says Her Boy Chum


At the left top is Detective Black, of the city, and at the right Detective Scott, of the Pinkertons. Below is a scene of the inquest. At the bottom is a sketch by Henderson of the negro, Newt Lee, whose straightforward story at the inquest has tended to lift suspicion from him.

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

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, May 1st 1913

Mary Phagan Was Growing Afraid of Advances Made to Her by Superintendent of the Factory, George W. Epps, 15 Years Old, Tells the Coroner’s Jury.


Newt Lee, Night Watchman, on Stand Declared Frank Was Much Excited on Saturday Afternoon—Pearl Robinson Testifies for Arthur Mullinax—Two Mechanics Brought by Detectives to the Inquest.


When a Constitution reporter saw Leo M. Frank early this morning and told him of the testimony to the effect that he had annoyed Mary Phagan by an attempted flirtation, the prisoner said that he had not heard of this accusation before, but that he did not want to talk. He would neither affirm nor deny the negro’s accusation that never before the night of the tragedy had Frank phoned to inquire if all was well at the factory, as he did on the night of the killing.

Evidence that Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the pencil factory in which the lifeless body of Mary Phagan was found, had tried to flirt with her, and that she was growing afraid of his advances, was submitted to the coroner’s jury at the inquest yesterday afternoon, a short time before adjournment was taken until 4:30 o’clock today by George W. Epps, aged 15, a chum of the murdered victim. Continue Reading →

Machinist Tells of Hair Found in Factory Lathe

Machinist Tells of Hair Found in Factory LatheAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday April 30th, 1913

R. P. Barrett, 180 Griffin Street, a machinist at the National Pencil Company, was one of the witnesses of the late afternoon.

He was asked:

Q. How long have you worked at the National Pencil Company?—A. Seven weeks the last time. I worked there about two years ago.

Q. Did you know Mary Phagan?—A. Yes.

Q. What did she do?—A. She ran a “tipping” machine.

Q. When did you last see her?—A. A week ago Tuesday.

Q. Did she work last week?—A. No.

Q. You say you worked in the same department with Mary Phagan? Were your machines close together?—A. Yes.

Q. When did you go to work?—A. Monday morning. Continue Reading →