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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Police Chief to Probe Vice Protection Charge

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

The Atlanta Journal

Thursday, July 3, 1913

Beavers Stirred by Details Reported by Physician—Assigns Men to Report

Following the charges of a prominent Atlanta physician regarding vice conditions and alleged police protection in this city, Chief of Police Beavers despatched an officer to confer with this physician Thursday morning.

The officer will endeavor to obtain even more information than has been furnished the chief and will try to substantiate that already given. He will pay especial attention to the statement of the physician that he reported a disorderly house to the police and that the proprietors of it were “tipped off” by some officer.

Chief Beavers is concerned over this phase of the question. He admits that there must be something in the charges, as the source of his information is reputable.

“It is a grave charge,” he declared Thursday morning. “I am satisfied that Atlanta’s police department is as free of anything like giving protection to vice as any in the United States, yet it is entirely possible that there are some men in it who would ‘graft.’ If there are I want to know more than anyone else, for it is not fair for the department’s reputation as a whole to suffer for what can be traced to a few individuals.”

The alleged disorderly houses reported to the chief are being watched closely, but he said that no evidence against them had been obtained yet.

Sergeant L.S. Dobbs, who has been investigating the locker clubs to see if they had any members of the police departmet [sic] enrolled, has finished his work and reported to the chief that he was unable to find any police members. He said that there are a number of local fraternal organizations with police members, and that these orders have locker club attachments, but that so far as he could learn no policemen were in the habit of using them.

Chief Beavers declared that there was nothing wrong with an officer belonging to a fraternal order, provided he did not use his membership for anything other than fraternal purposes.

Chief of Detectives Lanford declared Thursday morning that he had taken steps to investigate the charges made by the physician that several of his men had been seen drinking in two downtown locker clubs.

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The Atlanta Journal, July 3rd 1913, “Police Chief to Probe Vice Protection Charge,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Phagan Inquest in Session; Six Witnesses are Examined Before Adjournment to 2:30

Lemmie Quinn, foreman, who testified that he visited the factory and talked to Mr. Frank just after Mary Phagan is supposed to have left with her pay envelope. He was given a searching examination by the coroner Thursday, but stuck to his statement.

Lemmie Quinn, foreman, who testified that he visited the factory and talked to Mr. Frank just after Mary Phagan is supposed to have left with her pay envelope. He was given a searching examination by the coroner Thursday, but stuck to his statement.

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

Atlanta Journal

Thursday, May 8th, 1913

Lemmie Quinn, the Factory Foreman, Was Put Through a Grilling Examination, but He Steadily Maintained That He Visited the Factory Shortly After the Time Mary Phagan is Supposed to Have Left With Her Pay Envelope

FRANK’S TREATMENT OF GIRLS IN FACTORY DESCRIBED AS UNIMPEACHABLE BY ONE YOUNG LADY EMPLOYEE

Mr. Frank’s Manner at the Time He Was Informed of the Tragedy by Officers at His Home on Sunday Morning is Told of by Former Policeman — Both Frank and the Negro Night Watchman Are Expected to Testify During Afternoon, When Inquest Will Be Concluded

The coroner’s inquest into the mysterious murder of Mary Phagan adjourned at 12:55 o’clock Thursday to meet again at 2:30. At the hour of adjournment, six witnesses had testified. They were “Boots” Rogers, former county policeman; Lemmie Quinn, foreman of the pencil factory; Miss Corinthia Hall, an employee of the factory; Miss Hattie Hall, stenographer; J. L. Watkins and Miss Daisy Jones. L. M. Frank and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, were both present at headquarters during the morning session, but neither had been recalled to the stand when recess was ordered. Both are expected to testify during the afternoon, when an effort will be made to conclude the inquest and return a verdict.

Though put through a searching examination by the coroner in an effort to break down his statement that he had visited the factory on the day of the tragedy shortly after noon just after Mary Phagan is supposed to have received her pay envelope and left, Quinn stuck to his story. He declared that he had recalled his visit to Mr. Frank, and that Mr. Frank told him he was going to communicate the fact to his lawyers. Continue Reading →

Newt Lee Tells His Story During Morning Session

J. A. White [left and] Harry Denham. The two mechanics who were the last workmen to leave the National Pencil company on Saturday afternoon. Leo M. Frank was in the building when they went out. Photo by Francis B. Price, Staff Photographer.

J. A. White [left and] Harry Denham. The two mechanics who were the last workmen to leave the National Pencil company on Saturday afternoon. Leo M. Frank was in the building when they went out. Photo by Francis B. Price, Staff Photographer.

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

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday May 1st, 1913

Was the man who first assaulted and then brutally killed Mary Phagan last Saturday night hiding in the basement of the National Pencil company when the watchman, Newt Lee, came down and discovered the girl’s mutilated body early Sunday morning?

This is the question that rose to everyone’s mind, following the testimony of the negronight watchman, at the coroner’s inquest Wednesday. In direct contradiction to the evidence of every policeman who had been on the scene, the negro declared that he found the body, lying face up, with the head toward the wall. When the police arrived, the body was lying face down, with the head pointing toward the front of the building.

The most severe cross examination could not shake the negro. He stuck to his story, never seeming to waver for an instant. So convincing was his air that it became the general idea that the murderer must have been in the cellar at the time, waiting to burn the body of his victim. Lee’s coming down into the cellar may have frightened him away.

He declared that when he reported for work at 4 o’clock on the afternoon before the tragedy, his employer told him to go home until 6 o’clock. Frank looked nervous and excited at the time, he said. He also said that Frank had called him up later in the night, to find if everything was all right, something that he had never done before. Continue Reading →

Tells of Watchman Lee ‘Explaining’ the Notes

Tells of Watchman Lee 'Explaining' the NotesAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday April 30th, 1913

Sergeant L. S. Dobbs was the third witness. He said he answered the call to the pencil company plant Sunday morning.

Q.—Did you find an umbrella? A.—No. Lassiter did.

Q.—Did you find the notes there? A.—One of them.

He then identified the two notes.

Q.—Were you at the plant when Lassiter found the umbrella? A.—No; he found them about 7 o’clock.

Q.—Where did you find the body? A.—About 150 feet from the elevator shaft.

Q.—Did you examine the body? Continue Reading →