Three Arrests Expected Soon in Phagan Case

Three Arrests Expected

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

Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, May 18th, 1913

Members of the Staff of the Solicitor General Are Now Keeping Trio Under Strict Surveillance.


Will Not Divulge Its Nature to Anyone, He Declares. Court Postponed to Allow More Time to Probe Case.


Rumors from office of solicitor general say that three arrests will be made of attaches to pencil plant before case goes to grand jury. Trio will be jailed, it is said, within next few days.

Chief Lanford, of police headquarters, announces he possesses documentary evidence which will convict slayer of pencil factory girl. Will not divulge its nature to even Solicitor Dorsey.

Open breach apparent between detective chief and solicitor’s staff. Lanford refuses to reveal additional disclosures to Dorsey because tri-cornered investigation into mystery still unadjusted.

Dorsey announces that solicitor’s office will co-operate fully with Burns’ forces.

Dorsey postpones first session of May term of criminal court so as to devote entire time to Phagan investigation. Rumored that grand jury will not take action this week, as predicted.

Burns’ agent, now in city, follows new trail to Marietta in search for girl who accompanied Mary Phagan to pencil plant. His movements secret, and his identity unknown.

Three new arrests, all of whom are said to be attaches of the National Pencil factory, will be made, it was reported yesterday around the office of Solicitor General Dorsey, before action is taken by the Grand jury in the Mary Phagan mystery.

The report has set court officials and police headquarters in a furor of excitement. Only a few are acquainted with the names of the men who have already been put under surveillance. A Constitution reporter was furnished with them Saturday afternoon. For obvious reasons, they are being withheld from print at the present time.

Whether or not these men will be arrested, as suspects, or held as material witnesses is not known outside the members of Mr. Dorsey’s staff. They will be jailed according to report, within the next few days.

Has Document That Will Convict.

Detective Chief N. A. Lanford declares he is holding a document that is sufficient to convict the murderer of the pencil factory girl. He told of it to a reporter for The Constitution Saturday afternoon.

Outside of the chief, no one knows the nature of the evidence. It will not be submitted to the grand jury, it is said, but will be held until the trial. Not even Solicitor Dorsey, declares the detective, will be informed.

“Certain persons working on the case,” Lanford said, “have been giving out altogether too much information. We can never hope to do anything if our movements are constantly heralded in the press.

“For this reason, I have decided to keep my mouth closed. The evidence that I have, which, I am sure is enough to convict the slayer of Mary Phagan before any jury in the state, will be kept just as much in the dark as it now is until the proper time has arrived.”

The chief intimates that he will not give it even to the grand jury when the mystery is presented to it, for fear that there might be a “leak.”

Breach Reported Between Officials.

Police headquarters and court officials are concerned over the report of open breach between Chief Lanford and Solicitor Dorsey because of information which the latter has given to the newspapers.

Lanford practically confirmed the report of this breach Saturday, when he said:

“I do not mean that I shall withhold my evidence from newspaper men alone, but from every one—even those working on the case. Not until it is proper to let it out will I disclose it.”

The refusal of Lanford to speak of the case to any one, brings about an interesting situation among those working on the case, making it a three-cornered investigation of the baffling mystery.

The detectives of police headquarters, who were first to investigate the slaying, are now working alone, refusing to give information to any one. The Pinkertons, who were next retained, are working exclusively. Cooperation, however, is found in the joint investigation being promoted by Solicitor Dorsey and the Burns agent now in the city.

Will Work With Burns’.

Solicitor Dorsey announced to The Constitution last night that he would work in co-operation with William J. Burns and his staff of detectives, and that they would travel hand in hand, in the effort to apprehend the slayer.

His announcement was brief. When asked if he would exclude the Burns agents, and even Burns himself from the evidence unearthed through the solicitor’s staff, he said:

“I gladly welcome Mr. Burns. I welcome his investigator who is now on the job. I will give him and his staff complete co-operation of the office of solicitor general.”

In reply to a question put to him of the rumored arrests, he replied:

“I do not care to discuss the matter.”

Following a newly-found trail, the chief of the William J. Burns’ criminal investigation department, who is investigating the case, visited Marietta and the vicinity Saturday in search of the mysterious girl who went with Mary Phagan to the pencil factory on the day of her tragic disappearance.

He is unknown to any one in Atlanta, excepting those directly concerned in his employment. It is reported, though, that even in the short length of time that he has been in the city, he has found much new and valuable evidence.

Criminal Court Postponed.

In order that he might devote his entire time to securing new evidence and to the preparation of the evidence at hand for presentation to the grand jury, Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey has postponed the first week’s session of the criminal division of Fulton superior court.

This announcement was made Saturday. Court was scheduled to have been opened Monday morning at 9 o’clock. Mr. Dorsey, in a statement to a reporter for The Constitution, said that he would be unable to capably fill the duties of solicitor general of the criminal division and do justice to the Phagan investigation.

Fatigued from a grueling day’s labor and from the strenuous work of fourteen previous days, the solicitor and his staff finished their examination of witnesses Saturday at noon, and repaired to their homes for half-day’s rest. This morning at 11 o’clock the work will be resumed with the same vim and energy as heretofore.

May Take Longer Time.

The rumor is prevalent in the courthouse and in court and jury circles that Dorsey will not present the Phagan case before the grand jury Thursday or Friday of this week, as has been predicted, but will seek longer time for the preparation of evidence and other matters. Mr. Dorsey would not talk when confronted with this report last night.

“I am making a thorough job of this case,” he said, “and am working it just as I see fit. It is no time for hurried action. It is a time for calm deliberation and preparation.”

The Burns’ fund is swelling rapidly. Saturday’s donations brought it to $2,500, or more, it is said. State-wide interest is being taken in the move to employ the famous sleuth. A large number of subscriptions came from neighboring towns, and cities with letters indorsing the plan to obtain Burns.

Greeks Will Aid Probe.

Chief of these out-of-town donations was a check for $25 sent from Wilmington, N. C., by the Greek vice-consulate of America, D. Einetitajial. The letter accompanying his contribution is as follows:

“Mr. Thomas B. Felder, Atlanta, Ga.

“Dear Sir: The Greeks of At[l]anta wish to see the mystery surrounding the trigic [sic] death of Mary Phagan solved and the reputation of their good city of Atlanta untarnished.

“Sincerely yours,


Other out-of-town subscriptions came from J. B. Exum, of Douglas, Ga.; T. O. Myers, of Aragon, Ga., and J. L. Fambrough, J. J. Baldwin, B. F. Reed and B. F. Walker to Smyrna. This is only a partial list. The remainder expressed the desire to have their names withheld.

Business men donated generously, in almost every instance, however, each subscriber asked that his name be kept secret. A number of women also subscribed a liberal share of Saturday’s donations. Mr. Felder was optimistic over the prospects.

Burns Coming Sure.

He told a reporter for The Constitution:

“Burns is coming. The murder will be solved in less time than a month. I am positive. Never in all my career have I taken such an interest in a case as in the murder of Mary Phagan.

“Atlanta has got to find the slayer. Her reputation demands it. Whoever is it will be caught, and we won’t be long in the catching. I have utmost faith in Mr. Burns, and it is such a man as he that is needed in this situation.”

Burns’ representative, the chief of the noted detective’s criminal investigation department, and one of the mainstays of the Burns’ agency, was diligently at work on the mystery all day Saturday. First, he conferred with a number of officials, gained an insight in the case at its present status, then began the investigation he will make prior to this superior’s arrival.

An attaché of the solicitor general’s office, who has been in intimate touch with the examination of all witnesses summoned before Mr. Dorsey, told reporters Saturday afternoon that it was firm belief that a number of witnesses were withholding facts from the solicitor.

Are Withholding Facts.

“It is as plain as the nose on your face,” he said, “that a large number of folks who have testified before the solicitor have withheld facts of importance, and only stated the trival [sic] details of which they were questioned. Some of these witnesses could be held for purjury [sic] if they maintained their statements in open court.”

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Atlanta Constitution, May 18th 1913, “Three Arrests Expected Soon in Phagan Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)