With Two Men Held in Tower, Mystery of Murder Deepens

With Two Men Held in Tower, Mystery of Murder Deepens

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Belief That the Detectives Had Positive Evidence, Which They Were Withholding, Dissipated by Admissions


Case Now Goes to the Grand Jury but No Action Is Expected for a Week—Search for Evidence Will Continue

Coroner Paul Donehoo and the six jurors who investigated the murder of little Mary Phagan in the National Pencil factory on April 26, concluded Thursday the most thorough and exhaustive probe of a violent death ever conducted in this county and probably in the state.

The jury recommended that Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the factory, college graduate and man of culture and refinement, and Newt Lee, an ignorant negro watchman, both be held for investigation by the grand jury.

But the mystery of Mary Phagan’s death has not been solved.

After all of the evidence in the long and tedious probe had been given on oath before coroner’s jury, and after two weeks of hard and conscientious work by the city detectives and numerous private detectives, Mary Phagan’s death is still an admitted mystery.


John Black, a city detective, and Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons, two men, who have been at work on the mystery almost since the minute Newt Lee telephoned police headquarters that he had found the body of a murdered woman in the basement of the factory, stated on the witness stand Thursday afternoon that they had no positive evidence that would lay the crime on any individual.

“We are working on a chain of circumstances,” Scott told the jury. “I have no positive information as to who committed the murder,” said Black.

There have been many rumors to the effect that the state is withholding from public much important evidence.

Undoubtedly the state did withhold evidence at the inquest, which would tend to strengthen the chain of circumstances, but the statements under oath of the two detectives that they had no conclusive or positive information, which would make them name the man they suspect, served to show that the element of mystery has not been dissipated.


Action by the Fulton county grand jury on the cases of Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, and Newt Lee, negro night watchman, suspects in the Mary Phagan murder case, is not expected at least for a week.

Following the commitment of the two men by the coroner’s jury Thursday afternoon, interest has been centered in the probable action of the grand jury. That body held one of its regular sessions on Friday morning, but no phase of the Phagan case went before it. The state’s case is far from complete, it is said, and, there is much work before the officials will be ready to place their evidence before the grand jurors. The grand jury, however, can take up the matter of its own initiative, and since Judge W. D. Ellis especially charged it to investigate the Phagan case, it is said that two weeks will not elapse before the jury returns “no bills” or “true bills” agains the men held by the coroner’s inquest.


The present grand jury, which will be in office for this term of court, about two months, is comprised of the following citizens:

L. H. Beck, foreman; F. P. H. Akers; R. R. Nash; Charles Heins, H. G. Rubbard, John D. Wing, R. A. Redding, V. H. Kriegshaber, R. F. Sams, A. D. Adair, Sr., S. C. Glass, J. G. Bell, Cephas M. Brown, George A. Gershon, A. L. Gothman, Walker Dunson, W. L. Percy, C. A. Cowles, Sol Benjamin, R. P. Bell, H. M. Beutell, W. A. Bosser and Albert Roylston.

Only the filing of writ of habeas corpus for one or both of the prisoners is likely to precipitate immediate action by the grand jury, and there has been no intimation from Attorney Luther Z. Rosser, counsel for Mr. Frank, that he will seek the liberation of his client through a habeas corpus writ.

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Atlanta Journal, May 9th 1913, “With Two Men Held in Tower, Mystery of Murder Deepens,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)