1, 2 .... source



Frank kills and then cancels trip to baseball

Admits to wife he killed Mary

Frank immediately gets lawyer



The murder

Dressing room




Phagan was a virgin




She had been strangled with a 3/4-inch cord, which was still around her neck, and blood was still flowing from her genital region when the body was discovered.













Panties around neck

1913 This was the second day of the trial of Leo Frank. Newt Lee, the night watchman who discovered Mary Phagan's body, concluded his testimony by repeating his story for the defense. Altogether Lee spent four hours and forty-five minutes on the stand. The next witness was police Sgt. L.S. Dobbs, who took Lee's phone call and rushed to the factory. He said he found the body in the basement, face down, with a cord tied tightly around the neck, and a pair of women's underpants tied loosely around the neck. The back of the head was covered in blood. He also found two notes, her shoes, and a trail where the body was dragged to its location. Detective John Starnes then took the stand. He had called Leo Frank to inform him of the murder, and said Frank appeared extremely nervous when he arrived at the factory. The highlight of the day was strong verbal clashes between prosecutor Hugh Dorsey and defense attorney Luther Rosser over Rosser's attempts to discredit the testimony of Starnes.

She had been strangled with a 3/4-inch cord, which was still around her neck, and blood was still flowing from her genital region when the body was discovered.

gruesomely disfigured corpse of a child 12-year-old Mary Phagan, who was beaten, bludgeoned, raped, sodomized, and murdered

At approximately 3 a.m. on Sunday, April 27, 1913, the night watchman of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta discovered a girl's brutally battered body in the factory's basement. Covered with sawdust, her skull was caked with dried blood, her eyes were bruised, her face slashed and some of her fingers out of joint. A piece of rope, along with a strip taken from her own underpants, encircled her neck.


Mary’s battered body was found face down on a pile of sawdust shavings in the factory basement. Her tongue is swollen and protruding. A cord was knotted around her neck and there was massive bleeding from a deep wound to her head. Cinders were found under her fingernails, showing she had clawed the ground in her struggles. Her underclothing was ripped

Her body was found the following morning in the factory basement--tortured, raped, and strangled.
Dr. Roy Harris, secretary of the State Board of Health  who had examined Mary Phagan's corpse. The defense witnesses said Harris was merely guessing at the time of death and that Phagan had been sexually violated

There she was brutally murdered. She was choked with her undergarments and her skull crushed

When pretty Mary Phagan's body was found, her clothes were asunder, and she had been bleeding from her vagina.

At 3:30 A.M. on Sunday, April 27, 1913, the battered corpse of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found by an Atlanta policeman in the rear of the basement of the National Pencil Factory. Newt Lee, the plant's black watchman, discovered her mad phoned in the alarm. The girl's face was bruised, her scalp gashed, but she had died of strangulation by a wrapping cord.

 Her dress was hiked up to her knees, the belt attaching her garters to her corset were unfastened, and her underpants had been ripped up the crotch. The dishevelment of her clothes and blood in her vagina and drawers indicated that murder had not been the only violation committed upon the body of the girl.But Mary’s mouth, nostrils, and fingernails had been full of sawdust and grime similar to that in the basement, not on the second floor.

Brutal rape

Dr Harris stated - "Besides a ruptured hymen, Mary Phagan's vagina showed evidence of violence before death due to internal bleeding. The epithelium was pulled loose from the inner walls and detached in some places"

Mary Phagan was bitten on her breast, left shoulder, and neck

Source 'Little Mary Phagan' book page 87

Sept. 8

Governor Slaton was bribed

GEORGIA: (death penalty-related)

A rabbi wants the National Football League to censure an investor in the
Atlanta Falcons for remarks he made about the notorious 1915 lynching of
Leo Frank.

The rabbi's target is Tom Watson Brown, who owns 6 % of the Falcons and
whose great-grandfather was editorialist and U.S. Sen. Tom Watson, whose
writings are blamed for whipping up anti-Semitism before the lynching.

Brown contends Frank, a Jew, was properly convicted of killing 13-year-
old Mary
Phagan, and Frank was lynched because his supporters bought off
the governor to get him to commute his sentence.


Brown recently was quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution saying,
"Maybe the Frank people should apologize for bribing the governor."

Rabbi Steven Lebow of Cobb County says those words perpetuate the
stereotype of "rich Jews" controlling the system while most historians
believe the governor acted ethically.

"As a Harvard-educated lawyer, Mr. Brown should be more careful of what
he says when he slanders people,"
Lebow wrote the NFL. "An NFL owner
should not be making bigoted statements."

Brown said he will not retract his statements.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will respond when he receives Lebow's
letter, said spokesman Greg Aiello. The Falcons aren't commenting because
the dispute involves a minority owner whose role is as an investor, said
spokesman Aaron

Frank, a Northern-born Atlanta factory manager, was sentenced to death in
the killing of
Phagan, whose family lived in Marietta.

Gov. John M. Slaton, a law partner of Frank's lawyer, commuted his
sentence to life. A group of Marietta residents kidnapped Frank from his
cell and hanged him.

Brown claims that, because the governor was a partner in the law firm, he
shared in its proceeds -- including a promised bonus if it won a commutation.

Steve Oney, a writer who has spent 13 years researching and writing a
book on the case, said there is no evidence the governor was bribed into
an action that ruined his political career.

"I think Slaton made a decision of conscience," he said. "That said,
there was a clear and troubling appearance of a conflict of interest."

(source: Miami Herald)


Jews make a 13 yr old girl into a harlot  Source 1

SO: Well, the material is so inherently dramatic. A little girl, Mary Phagan, beautiful, busty, murdered on Confederate Memorial Day, 1913, in a society that is in transition from the old South to the new South.

The unusually savage slaying of Mary Phagan, the beautiful, voluptuous daughter of a working class family who like other Southern youth in the early twentieth century was forced into child labor by harsh economic times, and who in the springtime of life was sexually violated and then choked to death with a cord by her bestial killer, continues to engender primordial fears about the ultimate crimes of murder and rape.  Her murder is emblematic of the tragedy of youth and beauty suddenly, senselessly destroyed by unexpectable bloody violence.

She was a beautiful girl, and the search for her murderer was later to reveal more than one boy who had been smitten by her blue eyes and precociously well developed figure. She was only 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm) tall, but still might have been able to pass for being as old as eighteen.[1] Her family were country people who had moved to the city, known as "crackers" in local parlance That morning, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, after eating a breakfast of cabbage and wheat biscuits, devoted herself to getting dressed.

First, she donned stockings and garters, then a store-bought violet dress and gunmetal-gray pumps. Two bows in her auburn hair and a blue straw hat adorned with dried red flowers atop her head completed the outfit. Mary wanted to look nice, for Saturday, April 26, 1913, marked a special occasion-Confederate Memorial Day. Around 11:45, with a silvery mesh purse and an umbrella (the skies were misting rain) in her hands, she boarded the English Avenue trolley headed to downtown Atlanta, where the annual parade would soon begin.

Well turned out or not, Mary would have been one of the prettiest girls in any crowd. Eyes blue as cornflowers, cheeks high-boned and rosy, smile
beguiling as honeysuckle, figure busty (later, everyone acknowledged that "she was exceedingly well-developed for her age"), she had undoubtedly already tortured many a boy. There was simply something about her-a tilt to the chin, a dare in the gaze-that projected those flirtatious wiles that Southern girls often employ to devastating effect.


Harry Golden

This Jewish writer/convict declared 12 yr old Mary Phagan a 'loose women' and was not a virgin.

Harry Golden's book A LITTLE GIRL IS DEAD  Golden states flatly, "she was not a virgin"






Shortly after 1 p.m. Leo Frank leaves the building, boards a street car around 1:10 p.m., and arrives at his home for lunch around 1:20 p.m.  He returns to the building around 3 p.m.



Around 3 a.m. Mary Phagan’s dead body is discovered in the basement by the National Pencil Company Building’s night watchman, a black man named Newt Lee who immediately telephones the police station.

Police rush to the building by automobile.  They find the corpse lying face down at the rear of the 200-foot long, earthen-floor basement, a filthy catacomb littered with trash, coal dust, sawdust, and ashes, and lighted by a gas jet.  The body is 136 feet from the elevator shaft.

Phagan has been strangled with a seven-foot length of cord tied in a slipknot still tightly wrapped around her neck. (Quantities of cord of this character are found throughout the building.)  Her tongue is swollen and protruding.  She has soot on her face, dirt in her eyes, and cinders in her mouth and nostrils.  She has a black eye, there are wounds on her scalp and below the knee and scratches on the elbow, and her clothing has been torn.  There is fresh blood in her underclothing, and she appears to have been raped vaginally or anally.  She has also been robbed: her purse containing the $1.20 is missing.

She had been strangled with a 3/4-inch cord, which was still around her neck, and blood was still flowing from her genital region when the body was discovered.

What is known to be fact is that her body was discovered strangled in the basement “…ravished and brutally garroted with a piece of cord…blood matted her hair and her face was swollen and grimy”.  Her undergarments were cut open and evidence of sexual misconduct (sodomy, but not vaginal intercourse) was present. 

the Jew’s sexuality was corrupt, degenerate, wholly unnatural--an indication of the Jew’s urbanity and “over-civilized” lifestyle, of the corrupting influence of the city represented by the sexual corruption of Jewish sexuality. As Watson wrote, the murder and supposed rape of Mary Phagan could only be the act:

not of robust negroes but of decadent white men… Sodomy is not the crime of nature, barbarism, or of lustful black brutes; it is the overripe fruit of civilization and is always indicative of a decaying society (in Jacobson: 66).

The accusation of sodomy--apparently unmotivated by the facts of the case--arose from the Jewish nature of the defendant; once postulated, the perversity of Jewish desire wholly exonerated Conley who, while sharing somewhat in the racialized sexualization of the predeterminately guilty Frank, shared neither Frank’s urban background, outsider status, nor class position, all of which seems to have contributed to the threat posed by Frank’s Jewish sexuality.

Factory girls

Phagan murder investigation, there was disturbing circumstantial evidence that reinforced suspicion about Frank: he appeared unduly nervous when police first questioned him the morning Phagan’s body was discovered and a number of factory employees – all of them teenage girls - soon came forward with unsettling allegations about improper touching, lecherous stares and lewd remarks they attributed to Frank.



The murder

“The next person I saw was Miss Mary Perkins, that’s what I called her, this lady that is dead.  I don’t know her name.  After she went upstairs I heard footsteps going toward [Leo Frank’s] office and after she went in the office, I heard two people walking out of the office and going like they were coming down the steps, but they didn’t come down the steps, they went towards the metal department.  After they went back there, I heard the lady scream, then I didn’t hear no more, and the next person I saw coming in there was Miss Monteen Stover....  She stayed there a pretty good while, it wasn’t so very long either.  After she came back down the steps and left, I heard somebody from the metal department come running back there upstairs on their tiptoes, then I heard somebody tiptoeing back towards the metal department.  After that I dozed off and went to sleep.

“Next thing I knew Mr. Frank was up over my head stamping and ... then I went up the steps.  Mr. Frank was standing there at the top of the steps and shivering and trembling and rubbing his hands like this.  He had a little rope in his hands and a long wide piece of cord.  His eyes were large and they looked right funny.  He looked funny out of his eyes.  His face was red.  Yes, he had a cord in his hands just like this here cord.  After I got up to the top of the steps, he asked me, ‘Did you see that little girl who passed here just a while ago?’ and I told him I saw one come along there and she come back again, and then I saw another one come along there and she hasn’t come back down, and he says, ‘Well that one you say didn’t come back down, she come into my office awhile ago and wanted to know something about her work in my office and I went back there to see if the little girl’s work had come, and I wanted to be with the little girl, and she refused me, and I struck her and I guess I struck her too hard and she fell and hit her head against something, and I don’t know how bad she got hurt.  Of course, you know I ain’t built like other men.’  The reason he said that was, I had seen him a position I haven’t seen any other man that has got children.  I have seen him in the office two or three times before Thanksgiving and a lady was in his office, and she was sitting down in a chair, and she had her clothes up to here, and he was down on his knees.  I have seen him another time there in the packing room with a young lady lying on the table, she was on the edge of the table when I saw her....

“He asked me if I wouldn’t go back there and bring her up so that he could put her somewhere, and he said to hurry that there would be money in it for me.  When I came back there, I found the lady lying back flat on her back with a rope around her neck....  I noticed the clock after I went back and found the lady was dead and came back and told him.  The clock was four minutes to one....  I found I couldn’t get [the body] on my shoulder, it was heavy... and when I got away from the little dressing room that was in the metal department .. I let her fall ...and I said, ‘Mr. Frank, you have to help me with this girl, she is heavy,’ and he came and caught her by the feet and I laid hold of her by the shoulders ... and we went on the elevator ... and the elevator went down to the basement ... and we carried her out ... and rolled her out on the floor, and Mr. Frank turned about and went up the ladder [to the first floor] ... and I got on the elevator and started it on to the first floor.... [then] Mr. Frank ... stepp[ed] on to elevator [with me] ... and we ... got ... [to] the second floor....

“I followed him into his private office and I sat down and he commenced to rubbing his hands and began to rub back his hair and after a while he got up and said, ‘Jim,’ and I didn’t say nothing, and all at once he happened to look out the door and there was somebody coming and he said, ‘My God, here is Emma Clark and Corinthia Hall,’ and he said ‘Come over here, Jim, I have got to put you in this wardrobe,’ and he put me in this wardrobe, and I stayed there a good while and they come in here and I heard them go out, and Mr. Frank come there and said, ‘You are in a tight place,’ and I said, ‘Yes,’ and he said, “You done very well.’....

“[A]nd then he said, ‘Can you write,’ and I said, ‘Yes, sir, a little bit,’ and he taken his pencil to fix up some notes.  I was willing to do anything to help Mr. Frank because he was a white man and my superintendent, and he sat down and I sat at the table and Mr. Frank dictated the notes to me.  Whatever it was it didn’t seem to suit him, and he told me to turn over and write again, and when I done that he told me to turn over again and I wrote on the next page there and he looked at that and kind of liked it and he said that was all right.  Then he reached over and got another piece of paper, a green piece and told me what to write....

“And Mr. Frank turned around in his chair ... and he looked back at me and folded his hands and said, ‘Why should I hang, I have wealthy people in Brooklyn.’....”

After Jim Conley completes his direct examination, he is cross-examined by Frank’s attorneys for a total of 12 hours over the course of the rest of today and the next two days.  Although the cross-examination shows that Conley has previously told lies and half-truths to the police and that his memory is suspiciously poor except as to the matters he testified to on direct examination, defense attorneys are unable to seriously damage his credibility or shake his story.  They do not even ask Conley, in front of the jury, to put the contents of the murder notes in writing, so as to let the jury see what he does, and to see how long it actually takes Conley to write the notes Frank allegedly dictated.  (A police detective has testified that he dictated eight words to Conley, and it took Conley about six minutes to write them.) 

The police, reconstructing the crime, theorized that she had been attacked in this room, that she had fallen and struck her head on a lathe, and that her attacker had gone berserk. The murderer had beaten her first, then strangled her. Afterward, frightened and confused, he had dumped her corpse in the basement.

He also said the head wounds were caused by a human fist.

In testimony given on August 6, Dr. Roy Harris, secretary of the State Board of Health, insisted Phagan had died from strangulation, not from blows to her head.

An autopsy would reveal that her murderer had choked her with a piece of her own underdrawers and broken her skull.


Oral Sex sexOral

Furthermore, during the cross-examination defense lawyers egregiously err by allowing Conley to amplify his sinister, devastating claim, originally made on direct examination, that Frank is a sexual degenerate who performed oral sex on numerous women in his office and other rooms in the building.

When questioned, a number of Frank's female employees said that he had made "immoral" advances toward them.

Frank's lawyers made mistake after mistake. They brought up the subject of extramarital sex. They suggested that their client wasn't perfect, but he should not be judged on his moral failings, only on the question of whether he committed murder.

One of Frank's supposed mistresses testified that she had never had sex with him, but was also caught in a lie on the stand regarding a previous run-in with the law on a fornication charge.

Frank was accused, for an example, of frequenting a house of prostitution for the purpose of indulging in the "perverted vice" of oral sex, itself a crime punishable by death at that time.


Preforming oral sex on office boys




The prosecution insinuated that Frank was homosexual, and that an office boy who testified for the defense had been having sex with Frank. Dorsey asked one witness, "Didn't you hear about twelve months ago of Frank kissing girls and playing with the nipples of their breasts?"

Based mainly on the testimony of the janitor, who had been held in seclusion for six weeks before the trial on orders from Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, the jury convicted the defendant. Frank's attorneys were unable to break Conley's testimony on the stand. They also allowed evidence to be introduced suggesting that Frank had many dalliances with girls, and perhaps boys, in his employ.

Frank was accused, for an example, of frequenting a house of prostitution for the purpose of indulging in the "perverted vice" of oral sex, itself a crime punishable by death at that time.





Commutation Letter

wpe196.jpg (7140 bytes)

Governor Slaton commutes Frank's hanging

After Slaton had been elected governor in November 1912, the law firm of Slaton
and Phillips was merged with that of Rosser and Brandon.

In December 1914, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on the grounds that Frank had not been in the courtroom when the jury’s verdict was received. But on April 19, 1915, the argument was rejected by a vote of 7 to 2, Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles Evans Hughes famously dissenting. Wrote Holmes: “Mob law does not become due process of law by securing the assent of a terrorized jury.”

The Supreme Court’s decision left Frank with one recourse: to seek executive clemency from Georgia’s governor, John
Slaton, who was nearing the end of his term. In 1913, however, Slaton and Luther Rosser, Frank’s lead counsel, had become partners — a fact that appeared to Frank’s accusers to jeopardize Slaton’s neutrality.

On June 20, 1915, after reviewing the case,
Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison.

Monthly sickness

Govenor Slaton blamed the blood in her underwear was due to her "monthly sickness"

Governor Slaton lived about six miles from the state capital, and had to declare martial law within a half mile radius of his house, calling out a battalion of state militia to protect him and his family.

While many believed that the governor had been bought with Jewish money and influence, the commutation stood. It was done.


Tom Watson did not view Slaton’s decision so charitably. In the first issue of The Jeffersonian after Frank’s sentence was commuted, he wrote: “At last, one partner got before the other — Rosser before Slaton — and one partner gave what the other partner wanted . . . Hereafter, let no man reproach the South with Lynch law: let him remember the unendurable provocation; and let him say whether Lynch law is not better than no law at all.”

The defendant was represented by the high-powered Atlanta law firm of Rosser & Brandon, which merged with Slaton & Phillips in 1913, the same year as the trial. John Slaton from that same law firm became governor of Georgia and commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment on June 21, 1915. While commutation is certainly within a Governor's discretion and makes ethical sense in a case where the defendant had no prior convictions, the commutation made no sense politically. The Jewish groups weren't happy about it because they claimed Frank was innocent and wanted a new trial that would clear the defendant. Mary Phagan's family and much of the general public thought the commutation looked like a back room deal between the Governor and his old law firm, which represented the defendant.



June 21st, 1915.

In Re Leo M. Frank, Fulton Superior Court. Sentenced to be executed, June 22 nd, 1915.

Saturday April 26th, was Memorial Day in Georgia and a general holiday. At that time Mary Phagan, a white girl, of about 14 years of age, was in the employ of the National Pencil Company located near the corner of Forsyth & Hunter Sts in the city of Atlanta. She came to the Pencil Factory a little after noon to obtain the money due her for her work on the preceding Monday, and Leo M. Frank, the defendant, paid her $1.20, the amount due her and this was the last time she was seen alive.

Frank was tried for the offense and found guilty the succeeding August. Application is now made to me for clemency.

This case has been the subject of extensive comments through the newspapers of the United States and has occasioned the transmission of over 100,000 letters from various States requesting clemency. Many communications have been received from citizens of this State advocating or opposing interference with the sentence of the court.

I desire to say in this connection that the people of the State of Georgia desire the esteem and good will of the people of every State in the Union. Every citizen wishes the approbation of his fellows and a State or Nation is not excepted. In the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles the, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel to the separation”.

Many newspapers and multitudes of people have attacked the State of Georgia, because of the conviction of Leo M. Frank and have declared the conviction to have been through the domination of a mob with no evidence to support the verdict. This opinion has been formed to a great extent by those who have not read the evidence and who are unacquainted with the judicial procedure in our State.

I have been unable to open even a large proportion of the letters sent me, because of their number and because I could not through them gain any assistance in determining my duty.

The murder committed was a most heinous one. A young girl was strangled to death by a cord tied around her throat and the offender deserves the penalty of death. The only question is as to the identity of the criminal.

The responsibility is upon the people of Georgia to protect the lives of her citizens and to maintain the dignity of her laws, and if the choice must be made between the approbation of citizens of other States and the enforcement of our laws against offenders, whether powerful or weak, we must choose the latter alternative.


It is charged that the court and jury were terrorized by a Mob and the jury were coerced into their verdict.

I expect to present the facts in this case with absolute fairness and to state the conditions with regards only to the truth.

When Frank was indicted and the air was filled with rumors as to the murder and mutilation of the dead girl, there was intense feeling and to such extent that my predecessor, Governor Brown, stated in argument before me that he had the Military ready to protect the defendant in the event any attack was made. No such attack was made and from the evidence that he obtained none was contemplated.

Some weeks after this, the defendant was put on trial. Georgia probably has the broadest provision for change of venue in criminal cases that exist in any State. Our law permits the Judge to change the venue on his own motion, in the event he thinks a fair trial cannot be given in any county. The defendant can move for a change of venue on the same ground, and if it be refused, the refusal of the judge is subject to an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court, and in fact, the entire genius demands a fair trial absolutely free from external influence.

Frank went to trial without asking a change of venue and submitted his case to a jury that was acceptable to him. He was ably represented by counsel of conspicuous ability and experience.

During the progress of the case, after evidence had been introduced laying the crime with many offensive details upon Frank, the feeling against him had become intense. He was the general superintendent of the Factory and Mary Phagan was a poor working girl. He was a Cornell graduate and she dependent for her livelihood upon her labor. According to a witness, whose testimony will subsequently be related more completely, when this girl came to get her small pay, since she only worked one day in the week, because of lack of material, this general superintendent solicited her to yield to his importunities and on her refusal slew her.

The relation of these facts anywhere and in any community would excite unbounded condemnation.

If the audience in the court room manifested their deep resentment toward Frank, it was largely by this evidence of feeling beyond the power of a court to correct. It would be difficult anywhere for an appellate court, or even a trial court, to grant a new trial in a case which occupied thirty days, because the audience in the court room upon a few occasions indicated their sympathies. However, the deep feeling against Frank which developed in the progress of the evidence was in the atmosphere and regardless of the commission of those acts of which the court would take cognizance, the feeling of the public was strong.

Since Gov. Brown has related secret history in his public argument before me, I may state that Friday night before the verdict was expected Saturday, I had the Sheriff to call at the Mansion and inquired whether he anticipated trouble. This was after many people had told me of possible danger and an editor of a leading newspaper indicated his anticipation of trouble. The Sheriff stated he thought his deputies could avert any difficulty. Judge Roan telephoned me that he had arranged for the defendant to be absent when the verdict was rendered. Like Gov. Brown, I entered into communication with the Colonel of the Fifth Regiment, who stated he would be ready if there was necessity.

I was leaving on Saturday, the day the verdict was expected, for Colorado Springs to attend the Congress of the Governors, and did not wish to be absent if my presence were necessary. I have now the original order prepared by me at the time, in the event there were a necessity for it. I became convinced there would be a slight chance for any use of force and therefore filled my engagement in Colorado.

Judge Roan, in the exercise of precaution, requested that both counsel and defendant be absent when the verdict was rendered, in order to avoid any possible demonstration in the event of acquittal.

The jury found the defendant guilty and with the exception of demonstration outside the court room, there was no disorder.

Hence it will be seen that nothing was done which courts of any State could correct through legal machinery. A court must have something more than an atmosphere with which to deal, and especially when that atmosphere has been created through the processes of evidence in disclosing a horrible crime.

Our Supreme Court, after carefully considering the evidence as to demonstrations made by spectators, declared them without merit, and in this regard the orderly processes of our tribunals are not subject to criticism.


The charge against the State of Georgia of racial prejudice is unfair. A conspicuous Jewish family in Georgia is descended from one of the original colonial families of the State. Jews have been presidents of our Boards of Education, principals of our schools, Mayors of our cities, and conspicuous in all our commercial enterprises.


Many newspapers and non-residents have declared that Frank was convicted without any evidence to sustain the verdict. In large measure, those giving expression to this utterance have not read the evidence and are not acquainted with the facts. The same may be said regarding many of those who demanding his execution.

In my judgement, no one has a right to an opinion who is not acquainted with the evidence in the case, and it must be conceded that those who saw the witnesses and beheld their demeanor upon the stand are in the best position as a general rule to reach the truth.

I cannot, within the short time given me to decide the case, enter into the details outlined in thousands of pages of testimony. I will present the more salient features, and have a right to ask that all persons who are interested in the determination of the matter, shall read calmly and dispassionately the facts.


The State proved that Leo M. Frank, the General Superintendent of the Factory, was in his office a little after 12 o’clock on the 26th day of April 1913 and admitted having paid Mary Phagan, $1.20, being the wages due her for one day’s work. She asked Frank whether the metal had come, in order to know when she could return for work. Frank admits this and so far as is known, he was the last one who saw her alive.

At three o’clock the next morning (Sunday), Newt Lee, the night watchman, found in the basement the body of Mary Phagan strangled to death by a cord of a kind kept generally in the Metal Room, which is on Franks’ floor. She had a cloth tied around her head which was torn from her underskirt. Her drawers were either ripped or cut and some blood and urine were on them. Her eye was very black, indicating a blow, and there was a cut 2 ½ inches in length about four inches above the ear and to the left thereof, which extended through the scalp to the skull. The County Physician who examined her on Sunday morning declared there was no violence to the parts and the blood was characteristic of menstrual flow. There were no external signs of rape. The body was not mutilated, the wounds thereon being on the head and scratches on the elbow, and a wound about two inches below the knee.

The State showed that Mary Phagan had eaten her dinner of bread and cabbage at 11.30 o’clock and caught the car to go the Pencil Factory which would enable her to arrive at the Factory within the neighborhood of about thirty minutes. The element of exact time will be discussed later.

Dr. Harris, the Secretary of the State Board of Health, and an expert in this line, examined the contents of Mary Phagan’s stomach ten days after her burial and found from the state of the digestion of the cabbage and bread, that she must have been killed within about thirty minutes after she had eaten the meal.

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, testified that Frank had “told me to be back at the Factory at 4 o’clock Saturday afternoon”, and when he “came upstairs to report, Frank rubbing his hands”, met Newt Lee and told him to “go out and have a good time until 6 o’clock”, although Lee said he would prefer to lie down and sleep. When Lee returned, Frank changed the slip in the Time Clock, manifesting nervousness and taking a longer time than usual.

When Frank walked out of the front door of the Factory, he met a man named Gantt, whom he had discharged a short time before. Frank looked frightened, his explanation being that he anticipated harm. Gantt declared he wished to go up stairs and get two pairs of shoes which permission Frank finally granted, stating that he thought they had been swept out.

About an hour after this occurrence, Frank called up Lee over the telephone, a thing he had never done before, and asked him if everything was all right at the Factory. Lee found the double inner doors locked, which he had never found that way before. Subsequently, when Lee was arrested and Frank was requested by the Detectives to go in and talk to him in order to find what he knew, Lee says that Frank dropped his head and stated “If you keep that up, we will both go to hell”. [*see note]

On Sunday morning at about 3 o’clock, after Newt Lee, the night watchman, had telephoned the Police Station of the discovery of the dead body and the officers had come to the Factory, they endeavored to reach Frank by telephone, but could not get a response. They telephoned at 7.30 Sunday morning and told Frank that they wanted him to come down to the Factory and when they came for him, he was very nervous and trembled. The body at that time had been taken to the Undertakers, and according to the evidence of the officers who took Frank by the Undertaker’s establishment to identify the girl, he (Frank) showed a disinclination to look at the body and did not go into the room where it lay, but turned away at the door.

Frank had made an engagement on Friday to go to the Base Ball Game on Saturday afternoon with his brother-in-law, but broke the engagement, as he said in his statement, because of the financial statement he had to make up, while before the Coroner’s Jury, he said he broke the engagement because of the threatening weather.

The contention of the State, as will hereafter be disclosed, was that Frank remained at the Factory Saturday afternoon to dispose of the body of Mary Phagan, and that that was the reason he gave Newt Lee his unusual leave of absence.

The cook’s husband testified that on Saturday, the day of the murder, he visited his wife at the home of Mr. Selig, defendant’s father-in-law, where Frank and his wife were living, and that Frank came in to dinner and ate nothing. The negro cook of the Selig’s was placed upon the stand and denied that her husband was in the kitchen at all on that day. For purposes of impeachment, therefore, the State introduced an affidavit from this cook that on Sunday morning after the murder, she heard Mrs. Frank tell her mother that Mr. Frank was drinking the night before and made her sleep on a rug and called for a pistol to shoot himself, because he (Frank) had murdered a girl. This affidavit was relevant for purposes of impeachment, although, of course, it had no legal probative value as to the facts contained therein. On the stand, the cook declared that she was coerced by her husband and Detectives under threat of being locked up unless she gave it, and it was made at the Station House. The State proved it was given in the presence of a lawyer and said that her denial of the truth of the affidavit was because her wages had been increased by the parent of Mrs. Frank. No details are given as to where the conversation occurred between Mrs. Frank and her Mother, nor is there any explanation as to how she happened to hear the conversation. It will be easily seen that the effect of the affidavit upon the jury might be great.

It is hard to conceive that any man’s power of fabrication of minute details could reach that which Conley showed, unless it be the truth.

The evidence introduced tended to show that on Sunday morning Frank took out of the Time Clock the slip which he had admitted at that time was punched for each half hour, and subsequently Frank claimed that some punches had been missed. The suggestion was that he had either manipulated the slip to place the burden on Lee, or was so excited as to be unable to read the slip correctly.

The State introduced a witness, Monteen Stover, to prove that at the time when Mary Phagan and Frank were in the Metal Room, she was in Frank’s Office and he was absent, although he had declared he had not left

His office. The State showed that the hair of Mary Phagan had been washed by the Undertaker with pine tar soap, which would change its color and thereby interfere with the ability of the Doctor to tell the similarity between the hair on the lathe and Mary Phagan’s hair.

The State further showed a cord in the character which strangled Mary Phagan was found in quantities on the Metal Room floor, and was found in less quantities and then cut up in the basement. As to this Detective Starnes testified: “I saw a cord like that in the basement, but it was cup up in pieces. I saw a good many cords like that all over the Factory”.

Holloway testified: “Those cords are all over the building and in the basement.

Darley testified to the same effect.

However, this contradicts the testimony that was presented to the Jury for solution.

The State claimed in open Court to the Jury that witnesses for the defendant, under the suggestion of counsel, would change their testimony so that it might not operate against the defendant.

I have not enumerated all the suspicious circumstances urged by the State, but have mentioned what have appeared to me the most prominent ones. Where I have not mentioned the more prominent ones, an inspection of record maintains to maintain the contention.

It is contended that a lawyer was engaged for Frank at the Station House before he was arrested. This is replied to by the defense that a friend had engaged counsel without Frank’s knowledge, and the lawyer advised Frank to make full statement to the Detectives.


The most startling and spectacular evidence in the case was that given by a negro, Jim Conley, a man 27 years of age, and one who frequently had been in the chain gang. Conley had worked at the Factory for about two years and was thoroughly acquainted with it. He had worked in the basement about two months and had run the elevator about a year and a half.

On May 1 he was arrested by the Detectives.

Near the body in the basement had been found two notes, one written on brown paper and the other on a leaf of a scratch pad. That written on white paper in a negro’s hand writing showed the following:

“He said he would love me, lay down play like the night witch, did it, but that long, tall black negro did boy hisself.”

On the brown paper, which was the carbon sheet of an order blank which hereafter becomes important, headed “Atlanta, Ga., _________190”, was written in a negro’s hand writing the following:

“Mam that negro fire down here did this I went to make water and he push me down a hole a long tall negro black did [had] it I write while play with me.:

The Detectives learned about the middle of May that Conley could write, although at first he denied it. He made one statement and three affidavits which are more fully referred to in stating the defendant’s case. The affidavits were introduced by the defendant under notice to produce.

By these affidavits there was admitted the substance of the evidence that he delivered on the stand which in brief was as follows:

Conley claimed that he was asked by Frank to come to the Factory on Saturday and watch for him, as he had previously done, which he explained meant that Frank expected to meet some woman and when Frank stamped his foot Conley was to lock the door leading into the Factory and when he whistled, he was to open it.

Conley occupied a dark place to the side of the Elevator behind some boxes, where he could be invisible.

description of murder

Conley mentioned several people, including male and female employees, who went up the steps to the second floor where Franks’ office was located. He said that Mary Phagan went up the stairs and he heard in a few minutes foot steps going back to the Metal Room, which is 150 to 200 feet away from the office. He heard a scream and then he dozed off. In a few minutes Frank stamped and then Conley locked the door and then Frank whistled, at which time Conley unlocked the door and went up the steps. Frank was shivering and trembling and told Conley “I wanted to be with the little girl and she refused me and I struck her and I guess I struck her too hard and she fell and hit her head against something, and I do not know how bad she got hurt. “Of course, you know I ain’t built like other men”.

Conley described Frank was having been in position which Conley thought indicated perversion, but the facts set out by Conley do not demand such conclusion.

Conley says he found Mary Phagan lying in the Metal Room some 200 feet from the office, with a cloth [her underwear] tied about her neck and murder the head as though to catch blood, although there was no blood at the place.

Frank told Conley to get a piece of cloth and put the body in it and Conley got a piece of striped bed tick and tied up the body in it and brought it to a place a little way from the dressing room and dropped it and then called on Frank for assistance in carrying it. Frank went to his office and got a key and unlocked the switch board in order to operate the Elevator, and he and Conley took the body in the elevator down to the basement, where Conley rolled the body off the cloth. Frank returned to the first floor by the ladder, while Conley went by the elevator and Frank on the first floor got into the elevator and went to the second floor on which the office is located.

They went back into Frank’s private office and just at that time Frank said, “My God, here is Emma Clark and Corinthia Hall”, and Frank then put Conley into the wardrobe. After the left Frank let Conley out and asked Conley if he could write, to which Conley gave an affirmative reply. Frank then dictated the letters heretofore referred to. Frank took out of his desk a roll of green backs and told him, “Here is $200.00”, but after a while requested the money back and got it.



One witness testified she saw some negro, whom she did not recognize, sitting at the side of the elevator in the gloom. On the extraordinary motion for new trial, a woman, who was unimpeached, made affidavit that on the 31st of May, through newspaper report, she saw that Conley claimed he met Frank by agreement at the corner of Forsyth & Nelson Sts., on the 26th of April, 1913, and she became satisfied that she saw the two in close conversation at that place on that date, between 10.00 and 11.00 o’clock.

Frank put his character in issue and the State introduced ten witnesses attacking Frank’s character, some of whom were Factory employees, who testified that Frank’s reputation for lasciviousness was bad and some told that he had been making advances to Mary Phagan, whom Frank had professed to the Detectives, either not to have known, or to have been slightly acquainted with.

Other witnesses testified that Frank had improperly gone into the Dressing Room of the girls. Some witnesses who answered on direct examination that Frank’s reputation for lasciviousness was bad, were not cross-examined as to details, and this was made the subject of comment before the Jury.

The above states very briefly the gist of the State’s case, omitting many incidents which the State claims would confirm Frank’s guilt when taken in their entirety.


The defendant introduced approximately one hundred witnesses as to his good character. They included citizens of Atlanta, college mates at Cornell and Professors at that College.

The defendant was born in Texas and his education was completed at the Institution named.

The admission of Conley that he wrote the notes at the body of the dead girl, together with the part he admitted he played in the transaction, combined with his history and his explanation as to both the writing of the Notes and the removal of the body to the basement, make the entire case revolve about him. Did Conley speak the truth?

Before going into the varying and conflicting affidavits made by Conley, it is advisable to refer to some incidents which cannot be reconciled to Conley’s story. Wherever a physical fact is stated by Conley, which is admitted, this can be accepted, but
under both the rules of law and common sense, his statements cannot be received, excepting where clearly corroborated. He admits not only his participation as an accessory, but also glibly confesses his own infamy.

One fact in the case, and that of most important force in arriving at the truth, contradicts Conley’s testimony. It is disagreeable to refer to it, but delicacy must yield to necessity when human life is at stake.

The mystery in the case is the question of to how Mary Phagan’s body got into the basement. It was found 136 feet away from the elevator and the face gave evidence of being dragged through the dirt and cinders. She had dirt in her eyes and mouth. Conley testified that he and Frank took the body down to the basement in the elevator on the afternoon of April 26th, 1913, and leaves for inference that Frank removed the body 136 feet toward the end of the building, where the body was found at a spot near the back door which led out towards the street in the rear. Conley swears he did not return to the basement, but went back up in the elevator, while Frank went back on the ladder, constituting the only two methods of ingress and egress to the basement, excepting through the back door.

Conley testified that on the morning of April 26th he went down into the basement to relieve his bowels and utilized the elevator shaft for the purpose.

On the morning of April 27th at 3 o’clock, when the Detectives came down into the basement by way of the ladder [emphasis in the original], they inspected the premises, including the shaft, and they found there human excrement in natural condition.

Subsequently, when they used the elevator, which everybody, including Conley who had run the elevator for 1 and ½ years, admits, only stops by hitting the ground in the basement, the elevator struck the excrement and mashed it, thus demonstrating that the elevator had not been used since Conley had been there. Solicitor General Dorsey, Mr. Howard and myself visited the Pencil Factory and went down this elevator and we found it hit the bottom. I went again with my Secretary with the same result.

Frank is delicate in physique, while Conley is strong and powerful. Conley’s place for watching, as described by himself, was in the gloom a few feet from the hatchway, leading by way of ladder to the basement. Also he was [with]in a few feet of the elevator shaft on the first floor. Conley’s action in the elevator shaft was in accordance with his testimony that he made water twice against the door of the elevator shaft on the morning of the 26th, instead of doing so in the gloom of his corner behind the boxes he kept watch.

Mary Phagan in coming down stairs was compelled to pass within a few feet of Conley, who was invisible to her and [with]in a few feet of the hatchway.

Frank could not have carried her down the hatchway. Conley might have done so with difficulty. If the Elevator Shaft was not used by Conley and Frank in taking the body to the basement, then the explanation of Conley, who admittedly wrote the notes found by the body, cannot be accepted.

In addition there was found in the Elevator Shaft at 3 o’clock Sunday morning, the parasol, which was unhurt, and a ball of cord which had not been mashed.

Conley in his affidavits before the Detectives testified he wrapped up the body in a crocous sack at the suggestion of Frank, but on the trial, he testified he wrapped up the body in a piece of bed-tick “like the shirt of the Solicitor General”. The only reason for such change of testimony, unless it be the truth, was that a crocous sack unless split open would be too small for the purpose. If he split open the crocous sack with a knife this would suggest the use of a knife in cutting the drawers of the girl.

So the question arises, whether there was any bed-tick in the Pencil Factory? And no reason can be offered by bed tick should be in a Pencil Factory. It has no function there. Had such unusual cloth ever been in the Factory, it certainly must have been known, but nobody has ever found it.

Conley says that after the deed was committed, which everybody admits could not have been before 12.05, Frank suddenly says, “Here comes Emma Clark and Corinthia Hall”, and he put Conley in a wardrobe.

The uncontradicted evidence of these two witnesses, and they are unimpeached, was they reached the Factory at 11.35 A.M. and left it at 11.45 A.M., and therefore this statement of Conley can hardly be accepted. Conley says that when they got the body to the bottom of the elevator in the basement, Frank told him to leave the hat, slipper and piece of ribbon right there but he “taken the things and pitched them over in front of the boiler” which was 57 feet away.

Conley says that Frank told him when he watched for him to lock the door when he Frank stamped and to open the door when he whistled. In other words, Frank had made the approach to the girl and killer before he had signalled Conley to lock the door.

Conley says, “I was upstairs between the time I locked the door and the time I unlocked it. I unlocked the door before I went upstairs.

This explanation is not clear, nor is it easy to comprehend the use of the signals which totally failed their purpose.

It is curious during the course of the story that while Frank explained to Conley about striking the girl when she refused him and Conley found the girl strangled with a cord, he did not ask Frank anything about the use of the cord, and that subject was not mentioned.

The wound on Mary Phagan was near the top of the head and reached the skull. Wounds of that character bleed freely. At the place Conley says he found blood, there was no blood. Conley says there was a cloth tied around the head as though to catch the blood, but none was found there.

One Barrett says that on Monday morning he found six or seven strands of hair on the lathe with which he worked and which were not there on Friday. The implication is that it was Mary
Phagan’s hair and that she received a cut by having her head struck at this place. It is admitted that no blood was found there. The lathe is about 3 and ½ feet high and Mary Phagan is described as being chunky in build. A blow which would have forced her with sufficient violence against the smooth handle of the lathe to have produced the wound must have been a powerful one, since the difference between her height and that of the lathe could not have accounted for it. It was strange, therefore, that there was a total absence of blood and that Frank, who was delicate, could have hit a blow of such violence.

Some of the witnesses for the State testified the hair was like that of Mary Phagan, although Dr. Harris compared Mary Phagan’s hair with that on the lathe under a microscope and was under the impression it was not Mary Phagan’s hair. This will be the subject of further comment.

Barrett and others said they though they saw blood near the dressing room, at which place Conley said he dragged the body.

Chief of Police Beavers said he did not know whether it was blood.

Detective Starnes said, “I do not know that the splotches I saw was blood”.

Detective Black says, “Mr Starnes, who was there with me, did not call my attention to any blood splotches”.

Detective Scott says: “We went to the Metal Room where I was shown some spots supposed to be blood spots.

A part of what they thought to be blood was chipped up in four or five chips and Dr. Claude Smith testified that on one of the chips he found, under a microscope, from three to five blood corpuscles, a half drop would have caused it.

Frank says that the part of the splotch that was left after the chips were taken up was examined by him with an electric flash lamp, and it was not blood.

Barrett, who worked on the Metal floor, and who several witnesses declare claimed a reward because he discovered the hair and blood, said the splotch was not there on Friday, and some witnesses sustained him.

There was testimony that there were frequent injuries at the Factory and blood was not infrequent in the neighborhood of the ladies’ dressing room. There was no blood in the elevator.

Dr. Smith, the City Bacteriologist said that the presence of blood corpuscles could be told for months after the blood had dried. All of this bore upon the question of whether the murder took place in the Metal Room, which is on the same floor as Frank’s office. Excepting near the Metal Room at the place mentioned where the splotches varied according to Chief Beaver’s testimony, from the size of a quarter to the size of a palm leaf fan, there was no blood whatever. It is to be remarked that a white substance called haskoline used about the Factory was found spread over the splotches.


The defense procured under notice one statement and three affidavits taken by the Detectives from Conley and introduced the in evidence.

The first statement, dated May 18, 1913, gives a minute detail of his actions on the 26th day of April and specifies the saloons he visited and the whiskey and beer he bought, and minutely itemized the denomination of the money he had and what he spent for beer, whiskey and pan sausage.

This comprehends the whole of Affidavit no. 1

On May 24, 1913, he made for the Detectives an affidavit in which he says that on Friday before the Saturday on which the murder was committed, Frank asked him if he could write. This would appear strange, because Frank knew well he could write and had so known for months, but according to Conley’s affidavit Frank dictated to him practically the contents of one of the notes found by the body of Mary Phagan. Frank, then, according to Conley’s statement, took a brown scratch pad and wrote on that himself, and then gave him a box of cigarettes in which was some money and Frank said to him that he had some wealthy relatives in Brooklyn, and said “why should I hang”.

This would have made Frank guilty of the contemplated murder on Friday which was consummated Saturday and which was so unreasonable, it could not be accepted.

On May 28th, 1913, Conley made for the Detectives another affidavit, which he denominates as “second and last statement”. In that he swears that on Saturday morning after leaving home he bought two beers for himself and then went to a saloon and won 90 cents with dice, where he bought two more beers and a half pint of whiskey, some of which he drank, and he met Frank at the corner of Forsyth & Nelson Sts, and Frank asked him to wait until he returned.

Conley went over to the Factory and mentioned various people whom he saw from his place of espionage going up the stairs to Mr. Frank’s office. Then Frank whistled to him to and he came up stairs and Frank was trembling and he and Frank went into the private office when Frank exclaimed that Emma Clark and Corinthia Hall were coming and concealed Conley in the wardrobe. Conley said that that he stayed in the wardrobe a pretty good while, for the whiskey and beer had gotten him to sweating. Then Frank asked him if he could write and Frank made him write at his dictation three times and Frank told him he was going to take the note and send it in a letter to people and recommend Conley to them. Frank said, “Why should I hang?”

Frank took a cigarette from a box and gave it to Conley, and when Conley got across the street, he found it had two paper dollars, and two silver quarters in it, and Conley said “good luck has done struck me”.

At the Beer Saloon he bought one-half pint of whiskey and then got a buck and bought 15 cents worth of beer, 10 cents worth of stove-wood, and a nickel’s worth of pan sausage and gave his old woman $3.50. He did not leave home until about 12 o’clock Sunday. On Tuesday morning Frank came up stairs and told him to be a good boy. On Wednesday Conley washed his shirt at the Factory and hung it on the steam pipe to dry, occasioning a little rust to get on it. The Detectives took the shirt and finding no blood on it returned it.

On the 29th of May, 1913, Conley made another affidavit, in which he said that Frank told him that he had picked up a girl and let her fall and Conley hollered out to him that the girl was dead, and told him to go to the cotton bag and get a piece of cloth, and he got a big wide piece of cloth and took her on his right shoulder, when she got too heavy for him and she slipped of when he got to the Dressing Room. He called Frank to help and Frank got a key to the elevator and the two carried the body down stairs and Frank told him to take the body back to the saw dust pile and Conley says, he picked up the girl and put her on his shoulder, while Frank went back up the ladder.

It will be observed that the testimony and the appearance of the girl indicated that she was dragged through the cinders and debris on the floor of the basement, yet Conley says he took her on his shoulder.

The affidavit further states that Conley took the cloth from around her and took her hat and slipper, which he had picked up upstairs, right where her body was lying and brought them down and untied the cloth and brought them back and “throwed them on the trash pile” in front of the furnace. This was the time Conley says Frank made the exclamation about Emma Clarke and Corinthia Hall.

An important feature in this affidavit is as follows:

Conley states in it that Mr. Frank said: “here is $200.00 and Frank handed the money to him”.

All of the affidavit down to this point is in type-writing the original was exhibited to him. At the end of the affidavit in hand writing is written the following: “While I was looking at the money in my hands Mr. Frank said, let me have that and I will make it all right with you Monday, if I live and nothing happens”, and “he took the money back and I asked him if that was the way he done, and he said he would give it back Monday”.

It will be noticed that the first question which would arise would be, what became of the $200. This could not be accounted for.

Therefore, when that query presumably was propounded to Conley, the only explanation was that Frank demanded it back.

The Detectives had Conley for two or three hours on May 18 th trying to obtain a confession, and he denied he had seen the girl on the day of the murder. The Detectives questioned him closely for three hours on May 25 th, when he repeated this story. On May 27th, they talked to him about five or six hours in Chief Langford’s office.

Detective Scot, who was introduced by the State, testified regarding Conley’s statement and affidavit as follows:

“We tried to impress him with the fact that Frank would not have written those notes on Friday, that that was not a reasonable story. That it showed premeditation and that would not do. We pointed out to him why the first statement would not fit. We told him we wanted another statement. He declined to make another statement. He said he had told the truth”.

“On May 28th, Chief Langford and I grilled him for five or six hours again, endeavoring to make clear several points which were far fetched in his statement. We pointed out to him that his statement would not do and would not fit, and he then made the statement of May 28th, after he had been told that his previous statement showed deliberation and could not be accepted. He told us nothing about Frank making an engagement to stamp and for him to lock the door, and told nothing about Monteen Stover. He did not tell us about seeing Mary Phagan. He did not see her. He did not say he saw Quinn. Conley was a rather dirty negro when I first saw him. He looked pretty good when he testified here.

“On May 29th, we talked with Conley almost all day. We pointed out things in his story that were improbable and told he must do better than that. Anything in his story that looked to be out of place, we told him that would not do. We tried to get him to tell about the little mesh bag. We tried pretty strong. He always denied ever having seen it. He denied knowing anything about the matter down there in the basement in the elevator shaft. He never said he went down there himself between the time he came to the factory and went to Montags. He never said anything about Mr. Frank having hit her, or having hit her too hard, about tip-toes from the Metal Room Department. He said there was no thought of burning the body.

“On May 18th we undertook in Chief Langford’s Office to convince him he could write, and we understood he said he could not write and we knew he could. We convinced him that we knew he could write and then he wrote.”

In his evidence before the Jury in the re-direct examination, Conley thought it necessary to account for the mesh bag, and for the first time, said that Mary Phagan’s mesh bag was lying on Mr. Frank’s desk and Mr. Frank put it in the safe”. This is the first mention of the mesh bag.

The first suggestion that was made of Frank being a pervert was in Conley’s testimony. One the stand, he declared Frank said “he was not built like other men”.

There is no proof in the record of Frank being a pervert. The situation in which Conley places him, and upon Conley’s testimony must that charge rest, does not prove the charge of perversion if Conley’s testimony be true.

On argument before me, I asked what motive Conley would have to make such a suggestion and the only reason given was that someone may have made him the suggestion because Jews were circumcised.

Conley in his evidence shows himself amenable to suggestion. He says, “if you tell a story, you know you have got to change it. A lie won’t work and you know you have got to tell the whole truth”.

Conley in explaining why his affidavits varied said: “The reason why I told that story was I do not want them to know that these other people passed by me for they might accuse me. I do not want people to think that I was the one that done the murder”.


Conley admits he wrote the notes found by the body of Mary Phagan. Did Frank dictate them? Conley swears he did. The State says that the use of the word “did” instead of “done” indicates a white man’s dictation. Conley admits the spelling was his. The words are repeated and are simple, which characterizes Conley’s letters. In Conley’s testimony, you will find frequently that he uses the word “did” and according to calculation submitted to me, he used the word “did” over fifty times during the trial.

While Conley was in jail charged with being an accessory, there was also incarcerated in the jail, a woman named Annie Maude Carter, whom Conley had met at the Court House. She did some work in the jail and formed the acquaintance of Conley, who wrote to her many lengthy letters. These letters are the most obscene and lecherous I have ever read. In these letters, the word “did’ is frequently employed. It will be observed that in Conley’s testimony, he uses frequently the word “negro”, and in the Annie Maude Carter notes, he says, “I have a negro watching you”.

The Annie Maude Carter notes, which were powerful evidence in behalf of the defendant, and which tended strongly to show that Conley was the real author of the murder notes, were not before the jury. [emphasis in the original]

The word “like” is used in the Mary Phagan notes, and one will find it frequently employed in Conley’s testimony. The word “play” in the Mary Phagan notes, with an obscene significance, is similarly employed in the Annie Maude Carter notes. The same is true as to the words “lay” and “love”.

In Conley’s testimony, he uses the words “make water”, just as they are used in the Mary Phagan notes.

In Conley’s testimony, he says the word “hisself’ constantly.

It is urged by the lawyers for the defense that Conley’s characteristic was to use double adjectives.

In the Mary Phagan notes, he said “long tall negro black”, “long, slim, tall negro”.

In his testimony Conley used expressions of this sort. “He was a tall, slim build heavy man”. “A good long wide piece of cord in his hands”.

Conley says that he wrote four notes, although only two were found. These notes have in them 128 words, and Conley swears he wrote them in 2 and ½ minutes. Detective Scott swears he dictated eight to Conley and it took him about six minutes to write them.

The statement is made by Frank, and that statement is consistent with the evidence in the record, that the information that Conley could write came from Frank when he was informed that Conley claimed he could not write. Frank says he did not disclose this before, because he was not aware that Conley had been at the Factory on the 26th day of April, and therefore the materiality of whether Conley could write any more than any other negro employee, had not been suggested to him. Frank says that he gave the information that Conley had signed receipts with certain jewelers, with whom Conley had dealings.


At the time of the trial, it was not observed that the Death Note written on brown paper was an order blank, with the date line “Atlanta, Ga.____190. Subsequently the paper was put under a magnifying glass and in blue pencil, it was found that one Becker’s name was written there. He had been employed at the Factory on the fourth floor. Investigation was made and Becker testified that he worked for the Pencil Factory from 1908 until 1912., and the order blank was no. 1018. During that entire time, on signed orders for goods and supplies. The brown paper on which the Death Note was written bears his signature, and at the time he left Atlanta in 1912, the entire supply of blanks containing the figures 190__, had been exhausted, and the blanks contained the figures “191__”, had already been put in use. Becker makes affidavit that before leaving Atlanta, he personally packed up all of the duplicate orders which had been filed and performed their functions, and sent them to the basement to be burned. Whether the order was carried out, he did not know.

In reply to this evidence, the State introduced on the extraordinary motion the testimony of Philip Chambers, who swears that unused order blanks entitled “Atlanta, Ga.,__, 191__ were in the office next to Frank’s office and that he had been in the basement of the Factory and found no books or papers left down there for any length of time, but same were always burned up.

This evidence was never passed upon by the jury and developed since the trial. It was strongly corroborative of the theory of the defense that the death notes were written, not in Frank’s office, but in the basement, and especially in view of the evidence of Police Seargeant Dobbs, who visited the scene of the crime Sunday morning, as follows:

“This scratch pad was also lying on the ground close to the body. The scratch pad was lying near the notes. They were all right close together. There was a pile of trash near the boiler where this note was found, and paper and pencil were down there too”.

Police Officer Anderson testified:

“There are plenty of pencils and trash in the basement”.

Darley testified: “I have seen all kinds of paper down in the basement. The paper that note is written on is a blank order pad. That kind of paper is likely to be found all over the building for this reason, they write an order and sometimes fail to get a carbon under it, and at other times, they change the order and it gets into the trash. That kind of pad is used all over the factory.

Over the boiler is a gas jet.

Another feature which was not known at the trial and which was not presented to the jury, but came up by extraordinary motion, was regarding the hair alleged to have been fund by Barrett on the lathe. The evidence on the trial of some of the witnesses was that the hair looked like that of Mary Phagan. It was not brought out at the trial that Dr. Harris had examined the hair under a microscope and by taking sections of it and comparing it with Mary Phagan’s hair, and thought that on the lathe was not Mary Phagan’s hair, although he said he could not be certain of it.

This, however, would have been the highest and best evidence.

The evidence as to the probability of the blank on which the death note was written being in the basement, and the evidence as to the hair, would have tended to show that the murder was not committed on the floor on which Frank’s office was located.


The State contented that Mary
Phagan came to the office of Leo M. Frank to get her pay at some time between 12.05 and 12.10 and that Frank had declared that he was in the office the whole time.

It is true that at the Coroner’s Inquest held on Thursday after the murder (Page 364*), he said he might have gone back to the toilet, but did not remember it. However, in some of his testimony, Frank said he had remained the whole time in his office, Monteen Stover swears that she came into Frank’s office at 12.04 and remained until 12.10, and did not see Frank or anybody. She is unimpeached, and the only way to reconcile her evidence would be that she entered Frank’s office, as she states for the first time in her life, and did not go into the inner room, where Frank claimed to have been at work. If Frank were at work at his desk, he could not be seen from the outer room. Monteen Stover said she wore Tennis Shoes and her steps may not have attracted him.

However, the pertinency of Monteen Stover’s testimony is that Mary Phagan had come to get her pay and Frank had gone with her to the Metal Room and was in the process of killing her while Monteen Stover was in his office, and this was at a time when he had declared he was in his office.

The evidence loses its
pertinency, if Mary Phagan had not arrived at the time Monteen Stover came. What is the evidence?

The uncontradicted [evidence] disclosed that Mary Phagan ate her dinner at 11.30, and the evidence of the street car men was that she caught the 11.50 car, which was due at the corner of Forsythe & Marietta Sts., at 12.07 and ½. The distance from this place to the Pencil Factory is about one-fifth of a mile. It required from 4 to 6 minutes to walk to the Factory, and especially would the time be enlarged, because of the crowds on the streets on Memorial Day.

While the street car men swear the car was on time, and while George Epps, a witness for the State, who rode with Mary Phagan, swears he left her about 12.07 at the corner of Forsyth & Marietta Sts.. There is some evidence to the effect that the car arrived according to custom, but might have arrived two or three minutes behind schedule time. If so, the distance would have placed Mary Phagan at the Pencil Factory at some time between 12.05 and 12.10. Monteen Stover looked at the clock and says she entered at 12.05. A suggestion is made that the Time Clocks, which were punched by the employees, might have been fast. This proposition was met by W.W. Rogers, who accompanied the Detectives to the scene of the murder on Sunday morning, and who testified (Page 200), “I know that both clocks were running, and I noticed both of them had the exact time”. Therefore Monteen Stover must have arrived before Mary Phagan, and while Monteen Stover was in the room, it seems hardly possible under the evidence, that Mary Phagan was at that time being murdered.

Lemmie Quinn testifies that he reached Frank’s office about 12.20 and saw Mr. Frank. At 12.30, Mrs. J.A. White called to see her husband at the Factory where he was working on the fourth floor, and left again before one o’clock.

At 12.50, according to Denham, Frank came up to the fourth floor and said that he wanted to get out. The evidence tends to show that the time taken for moving the body, according to Conley’s description, was so long that it could not have fitted the specific times at which visitors saw Frank. It will be seen that when Mrs. White came up at 12.30, the doors below here were locked.

Another feature of the evidence is that the back door in the basement was the former means of egress for Conley, when he desired to escape his creditors among the employees. On Sunday morning, April 27, the staple of this door had been drawn. Detective Starnes found on the door the marks of what he thought were bloody finger-prints, and he chipped off two pieces from the door, which looked like “bloody finger-prints”. The evidence does not disclose further investigation as to whether it was blood or not.

The motive of this murder may be either Robber, or Robber and Assault, or Assault.

There is no suggestion that the motive of Frank would be robbery. The mesh bag was in Mary Phagan’s hands and was described by Conley, in his re-direct examination, at the trial for the first time. The size of the mesh bag, I cannot tell, but since a bloody handkerchief of Mary Phagan’s was found by her side, it was urged before me by counsel for the defense that ladies usually carry their handkerchiefs in their mesh bags.

If the motive was assault, either by natural or perverted means, the physician’s evidence, who ma+de the examination, does not disclose its accomplishment. Perversion by none of the suggested means could have occasioned the flood of blood. The Doctors testified that excitement might have occasioned it under certain conditions. Under the evidence, which is not set forth in detail, there is every possibility that the virtue of Mary Phagan was not lost on the 26th of April. Her mesh bag was lost, and there can be no doubt of this. The evidence shows that Conley was as depraved and lecherous a negro as ever lived in the state of Georgia. He lay in watch and described the clothes and stockings of the women who went to the Factory.

Hs story necessarily bears the construction that Frank had an engagement with Mary Phagan which no evidence in the case would justify. If Frank had engaged Conley to watch for him, it could only have been for Mary Phagan, since he made no improper suggestion to any other female on that day, and it was undisputed that many did come up prior to 12.00 o’clock, and whom could Frank have been expecting except Mary Phagan under Conley’s story. This view cannot be entertained, as an unjustifiable reflection on the young girl.

Why the negro wrote the notes is a matter open to conjecture. He had been drinking heavily that morning, and it is possible that he undertook to describe the other negro in the building so that it would avert suspicions.

It may yet be possible that his version is correct.

The testimony discloses that he was in the habit of allowing men to go into the basement for immoral purposes for a consideration, and when Mary Phagan passed by him close to the hatchway leading into the basement and in the gloom and darkness of the entrance, he attacked her. What is the truth we may never know.


The jury which heard the evidence and saw the witnesses found the defendant guilty of murder. They are the ones, under our laws, who are chosen to weigh evidence and to determine its probative value. They may consider the demeanor of the witnesses upon the stand and in the exercise of common sense will arrive with wonderful accuracy at the truth of the contest.


Under our law, the only authority who can review the merits of the case and question the justice of a verdict which has any evidence to support it, is the trial judge. The Supreme Court is limited by the Constitution and the correction of errors of law. The Supreme Court found in the trial no error of law and determined as a matter of law., and correctly in my judgement, that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the verdict.

But under our judicial system, the trial judge is called upon to exercise his wise discretion, and he cannot permit a verdict to stand which he believes to be unjust. A suggestion in the order over-ruling a motion for a new trial, that the judge was not satisfied with the verdict, would demand a reversal by the Supreme Court.

In this connection Judge Roan declared orally from the bench that he was not certain of the defendant’s guilt – that with all the thought he had put on the case, he was not thoroughly convinced whether Frank was guilty, or innocent – but that he did not have to be convinced – that the jury was convinced and that there was no room to doubt that – that he felt it was his duty to order that the motion for a new trial be over-ruled.

This statement was not embodied in the motion over-ruling new trial.

Under our statute, in cases of conviction of murder on circumstantial evidence, it is within the discretion of the trial judge to sentence the defendant to life imprisonment (Code Section 63).

The conviction of Frank was on circumstantial evidence, as the Solicitor General admits in his written argument.

Judge Road, however, misconstrued his power, as evidence by the following charge to the jury in the case of the State against Frank:

“If you believe beyond a reasonable doubt from the evidence in this case that this defendant is guilty of murder, then, you would be authorized in that event to say: ”We, the jury, find the defendant guilty”. Should you go further, gentlemen, and say nothing else in your verdict, the court would have to sentence the defendant to the extreme penalty of murder, to wit: “To be hanged by the neck until he is dead”.

Surely, if Judge Roan entertained the extreme doubt indicated by his statement and had remembered the power granted him by the Code, he would have sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment.

In a letter written to counsel he says, “I shall ask the Prison Commission to recommend to the Governor to commute Frank’s sentence to life imprisonment ****. It is possible that I showed undue deference to the jury in this case, when I allowed the verdict to stand. They said by their verdict that they had found the truth. I was in a state of uncertainty, and so expressed myself. **** After many months of continued deliberation, I am still uncertain of Frank’s guilt. The state of uncertainty is largely due by the character of the Conley testimony, by which the verdict was largely reached.

“Therefore, I consider this a case in which the chief magistrate of the State should exert every effort in ascertaining the truth. The execution of any person, whose guilt has not been satisfactorily proven, is too horrible to contemplate. I do not believe that a person should meet with the extreme penalty of the law, until the Court, Jury and Governor shall have all been satisfied of that person’s guilt. Hence, at the proper time, I shall express and enlarge upon these views, directly to the Prison Commission and Governor.

“However, if for any cause I am prevented from doing this, you are at liberty to use this letter at the hearing.”

It will thus be observed that if commutation is granted, the verdict of the jury is not attacked, but the penalty is imposed for murder, which is provided by the State and which the Judge, except for his misconception, would have imposed. Without attacking the jury, or any of the courts, I would be carrying out the will of the Judge himself in making the penalty that which he would have made it and which he desires it shall be made.

In the case of Hunter, a white man charged with assassinating two white women in the City of Savannah, who was found guilty and sentenced to be hung, application was made to me for clemency. Hunter was charged together with a negro with having committed the offense, and after he was convicted the negro was acquitted. It was brought out by the statement of the negro that another negro who was half-witted committed the crime, but no credence was given to the story, and he was not indicted.

The Judge and Solicitor General refused to accord clemency, but upon a review of the evidence, and because of the facts and at the instance of the leading citizens of Savannah, who were doubtful of the guilt of the defendant, I commuted the sentence, in order that there should be no possibility of the execution of an innocent man. This action has met with the entire approbation of the people of Chatham County.

In the case of John Wright in Fannin County, two men went to the mountain home of a citizen, called him out and shot him and were trampling on his body, when his wife, with a babe in her arms, came out to defend her husband. One of the men struck the babe with his gun and killed it. Wright was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. Evidence was introduced as to his borrowing a gun. His threats, his escape after the shooting occurred at the time he was in escape from the Fannin County Jail under indictment for felony.

I refused to interfere unless the Judge, or Solicitor, would recommend interference, which they declined to do. Finally, when on the gallows the Solicitor General recommended a reprieve, which I granted, and finally on the recommendation of the Judge and Solicitor General, as expressed in my Order, I reluctantly commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. The doubt was suggested as to the identity of the criminal and as to the credibility of the testimony of prejudiced witnesses. The crime was as heinous as this one and more so.

In the Frank case three matters have developed since the trial which did not come before the jury, to wit: the Carter notes, the testimony of Becker, indicating that the death notes were written in the basement, and the testimony of Dr. Harris, that he was under the impression that the hair on the lathe was not that of Mary Phagan, and thus tending to show that the crime was not committed on the floor of Frank’s office.

While made the subject of an extraordinary motion for a new trial, it is well known that it is almost a practical impossibility to have a verdict set aside by this procedure.

The evidence might not have changed the verdict, but it might have caused the jury to render a verdict with the recommendation of mercy.

In any event, the performance of my duty under the Constitution, is a matter of my conscience. The responsibility rests where the power is reposed. Judge Roan, with that awful sense of responsibility, which probably came over him as he thought of that Judge before whom he would shortly appear, calls to me from another world to request that I do that which he should have done. I can endure misconstruction, abuse and condemnation, but I cannot stand the constant companionship of an accusing conscience, which would remind me in every thought that I , as a Governor of Georgia, failed to do what I thought to be right. There is a territory “beyond a REASONABLE DOUBT and absolute certainty”, for which the law provides in allowing life imprisonment instead of execution. This case has been marked by doubt. The trial judge doubted. Two Judges of the Supreme Court of Georgia doubted. Two Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States doubted. One of the three Prisoin Commissioners doubted.

In my judgement, by granting a commutation in this case, I am sustaining the jury, the judge, and the appellate tribunals, and at the same time am discharging that duty which is placed on me by the Constitution of the State.

Acting, therefore, in accordance with what I believe to be my duty under the circumstances of this case, it is

ORDERED: That the sentence in the case of Leo M. Frank is commuted from the death penalty to imprisonment for life.

This 21st day of June, 1915.

John M. Slaton,



* [Note: according to THE MURDER OF LITTLE MARY PHAGAN, by Mary Phagan, the victim's great-niece, who believes that Frank was guilty, the police put Frank in a cell with the night watchman, Newt Lee, and Frank told Lee: "if you know anything, it's best to tell all you know." The police took this as an "admission of guilt" and may have fabricated the statement attributed to Frank as mentioned by Governor Slaton, above, "if you keep that up, we will both go to hell".

She also says that the affidavit of the cook (that Frank said he was going to buy a gun and shoot himself because he had murdered a young girl), was plastered all over the front pages of every newspaper in the state; but that when the affidavit was retracted, the retraction was printed in a very small notice on the inside pages, so that almost nobody ever saw it!

I had a lengthy correspondence with Mary Phagan about twenty years ago. She was very warm to me, answering all my questions, and saying "call me Mary". The correspondence terminated abruptly when I told her I thought Frank was innocent.

Harry Golden's book A LITTLE GIRL IS DEAD contains one misstatement of fact: Golden states flatly, "she was not a virgin", which is utrue.
I have not read Steve Oney's book AND THE DEAD SHALL RISE.

- C.P.[Carlos Porter]
26 JANUARY 2006]




Information on Harry Golden  ....Writer who said Mary had slept around

The story of "the Coat" led to my contretemps with Harry Golden. Golden, a short, rotund, Jewish, cigar-smoking colorful writer, was also a bit of a rogue. In 1929, when he was in his late twenties, he pled guilty to mail fraud charges in connection with his activities as a stockbroker in New York City. After serving a four-year prison sentence, he changed his name from Goldhurst to Golden and moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, a most unlikely setting in what became a most unlikely career. As he put it, he was "a Northerner living in the South, a Jew in the most Gentile community on the continent, [and] an integrationist among white supremacists." (1)






Harry Golden

This Jewish writer/convict declared 13 yr old Mary Phagan a 'loose women' and was not a virgin.



Supreme Court Heard the Case

In December 1914, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear the case on the grounds that Frank had not been in the courtroom when the jury’s verdict was received. But on April 19, 1915, the argument was rejected by a vote of 7 to 2, Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles Evans Hughes famously dissenting. Wrote Holmes: “Mob law does not become due process of law by securing the assent of a terrorized jury.”

The Supreme Court’s decision left Frank with one recourse: to seek executive clemency from Georgia’s governor, John Slaton, who was nearing the end of his term. In 1913, however, Slaton and Luther Rosser, Frank’s lead counsel, had become partners — a fact that appeared to Frank’s accusers to jeopardize Slaton’s neutrality.



Jews were relieved

Then an equally heinous murder occurred when the defendant was abducted from his prison cell and lynched. The justice system completely broke down and no one was ever arrested, prosecuted, or otherwise held accountable for this second murder. And there was no shortage of braggarts claiming responsibility for the lynching. What secretive, organized movements were involved in this gangsterism?

If B'nai B'rith really thought their defendant was innocent, wouldn't they have applied pressure to assure that his butchers were brought before the bar of justice? But if some people felt he was actually guilty, the lynching solved a lot of problems. A guilty man spending the rest of his life in prison might decide to confess somewhere along the line in hope of getting released.


The Pollard spy case comes to mind in that regard. We know who killed Mary Phagan. The real question is why didn't anybody care who lynched the President of Atlanta B'nai Brith? Not just who participated in the lynching, but also who was involved in the cover up? Who were the accessories before the fact to this murderous obstruction of justice? Many decades later, after most of the witnesses were dead, he received a posthumous pardon that did nothing to bring his killers to justice. Of course, a pardon is usually based on political influence and has nothing to do with guilt or innocence.



Murder notes

Murder Notes

Two notes were found in the plant, supposedly written by Mary Phagan as she was dying, and accusing a "Negro" of killing her. These came to be known as the "murder notes." Great suspicion was cast on the notes, and, e.g., there was debate about whether Phagan would have used the word "Negro," which was seldom used by white people in the South at that time. Jim Conley later claimed that the notes were dictated to him by Frank. The text of the notes was:

Mam that negro hire down here did this i went to make water and he push me doun that hole a long negro black that hoo it was long sleam tall negro i wright while play with me.
He said he wood love me and land doun play like night witch did it but that long tall black negro did buy his slef.


Leo Frank and the murder of Mary Phagan

12 yrs old

The riddle of Mary's age

How old was Mary Phagan when she died?

Most sources say she would have been 14 on June 1, 1913. And that is what her mother testified to during the trial of Leo Frank. But Mary’s tombstone at National Cemetery in Marietta, Ga., says she was born in 1900, which would mean she would have been 13 on June 1, 1913. Mary was 12 when she was murdered

National Pencil Company child laborer  Mary Phagan   murdered by Jim Conley; however, National Pencil Co. manager Leo Frank was tried and convicted for the murder; a lynch mob, calling itself "The Knights of Mary Phagan," stormed the prison where Frank was being held, kidnapped him and took him to Frey's Grove where he was lynched; later that day the "Knights" held a rally at Stone Mountain and rechristened themselves the Ku Klux Klan
born on 6-1-1900 in Marietta, Georgia
4-26-1913 in Atlanta, Georgia   age 12   cause: murdered

Mary Phagan was born on June 1, 1900 to John and Frances Phagan in Marietta, Ga.

Mary Phagan ( June 1, 1900 - April 26, 1913),

April 17, 1884 Leo Frank born, Cuero, Texas

June 1, 1900 Mary Phagan born, Marietta, Georgia
Marietta, GA
April 26, 1913 Mary Phagan is murdered at the National Pencil Company
Fulton County, Georgia

She was 12 yrs old

Believing that the mother’s testimony is the most reliable source, The Tennessean has chosen to accept her account.
April 27, 1913 The body of Mary Phagan, bloody, broken, possibly sexually assaulted, was found in the basement of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta. Newt Lee, who found the body, is arrested.
Atlanta, Georgia (1900-2000)
May 1, 1913 Jim Conley, a black janitor, is arrested when he is discovered rinsing blood off a shirt in the basement of the National Pencil Company
May 8, 1913 Leo Frank and Newt Lee are ordered to be held in the murder of Mary Phagan
May 23, 1913 Leo Frank is indicted in the murder of Mary Phagan
May 28, 1913 Jim Conley admits his involvement with the murder. He claims that Leo Frank ordered him to write the murder notes, and that Frank had killed Mary Phagan and had Conley carry her downstairs
July 28, 1913 Leo Frank's trial begins
"Fiddlin'" John Carson
August 4, 1913 Jim Conley testifies at the trial of Leo Frank, claiming that Frank had gotten his help in moving Mary Phagan's body to the cellar.
August 25, 1913 Leo Frank is found guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan
February 24, 1914 Jim Conley, self-professed accomplice to the murder of Mary Phagan, is sentenced to a year of hard labor for his role in the crime.
June 21, 1915 Leo Frank is transferred from the Fulton County prison to the State Penitentiary at Milledgeville
Fulton County, Georgia
June 21, 1915 Governor John Slaton commutes Leo Frank's death sentence to a lifetime prison sentence.
July 18, 1915 Leo Frank is assaulted by an inmate of the prison. His throat is slashed.
August 17, 1915 A lynch mob hangs Leo Frank, near the present-day site of the Big Chicken
November 25, 1915 William Simmons, along with some of the men who lynched Leo Frank, and others burn a cross at the top of Stone Mountain, signaling the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan
Stone Mountain
Ku Klux Klan in Georgia
March 4, 1982 Alonzo Mann, a teenage helper in the National Pencil Factory, admits that he saw Jim Conley carrying the body of Mary Phagan by himself, implicating Conley's testimony
March 11, 1986 Georgia pardons Leo Frank, not because of new evidence in the murder of Mary Phagan, but because the state failed to provide protection while Frank was in custody.




Yet even in the wake of Watson's scathing pogrom Atlanta kept its head, angry but confident that legal measures would take care of the atrocity. It was not until the Atlanta Constitution printed an interview--a scoop which it probably regrets today--with Mrs. Nina Formby that the tornado of Juden-Hetze got out of control and swept the city and state and the South.

   Mrs. Formby was well acquainted with the detectives of Atlanta. She ran a brothel, and she later swore--from the safety of distant New York City--that the sleuths got her drunk and made her accuse Leo.

The Constitution carried a story that on the evening of the murder Leo had telephoned her, frantically demanding a room in her house for himself and a young girl. "It's a matter of life and death," she said Leo told her. And though Leo proved by many witnesses that he was at that time entertaining friends in his home, the story got out that Frank was a pervert--and the town went mad.

The madam of a whorehouse, Nina Formby, told the police that on the night of the murder, Frank, a frequent customer, had called her asking if she had a room in which he could get rid of Phagan's body. However, Formby skipped town, and recanted her statement from New York, saying that the police had gotten her drunk and offered her money. The police also, in an intense grilling, persuaded the Franks' housekeeper to change her statement helping to establish Frank's alibi, but she also recanted her statement immediately.

Nina Formby, who ran a brothel, claimed on the evening of the murder that Frank had telephoned her, urgently demanding a room in her house for himself and a young girl. "It's a matter of life and death," she said Leo told her.

Most damaging of all, a woman who ran a rooming house, Mrs. Nina Formby, told police two weeks later that, on the day of the murder, Frank had called her repeatedly in order to secure a room for himself and a young girl.

The madam of a house of ill repute claimed that Frank had phoned her several times, seeking a room for himself and a young girl.

Frank was accused, for an example, of frequenting a house of prostitution for the purpose of indulging in the "perverted vice" of oral sex, itself a crime punishable by death at that time.


Newt lee

wpe18F.jpg (1908 bytes)

Watchman Lee was a sinister witness, from Leo's viewpoint. He said, he came to work at 4 o'clock and that, contrary to custom, Leo told him to go away and return at 7 o'clock. Leo said he merely tried to give the Negro a little rest on the holiday.

Testimony showed that Frank had telephoned Newt Lee at the factory late Saturday evening to make sure everything was all right.

After several attempts at drafting the notes -- which appeared to be aimed at placing blame for the murder on night watchman Newt Lee -- Frank was finally satisfied, Conley said, and gave him $200 with the instructions: "You go down there in the basement and you take a lot of trash and burn that package that’s in front of the furnace."

Instead he worked at the factory until evening. In fact, he had told Lee who had come to work at 4pm to leave and return at 6pm.







On the day of the murder, Conley went on, he came into the office and found Leo crouching over the unconscious girl. Leo told him that Mary had resisted his advances, and when he grabbed her had fallen and struck her head. When he had finished with her he decided to kill her. So he strangled her to death with the cord.

   He then promised Conley $200 to burn the body, and did, in fact, give him that sum, the Negro said. They carried her together to the elevator, found it would not work, and so passed her down through a trapdoor and on into the cellar. Then, fearing the smoke from the furnace would attract attention on the holiday, Leo dictated the notes which Conley wrote, and they left them beside the body. But, said Conley, Leo made him return the $200 because he hadn't burnt the body. If Conley came down early the next day and burnt it Leo would then give him the money.

that he dropped her through the trapdoor hole;

After stating that the financial records of the National Pencil Factory showed there were two-hundred dollars (the amount Jim Conley said Frank had showed him) on the premises the day of the murder, solicitor Hugh Dorsey rested the state's case.

Description of murder

The state made the detective theory largely its own: that Mary tried to run after Leo made an improper proposal; that he caught her, struck her, and that she fell, breaking her neck against a lathe in a nearby room, that strands of her hair were found on the lathe, that Leo carried her back to his room and then to the wash-room in an effort to revive her there; that he feared she would talk when she became conscious; and that he then tied the cord about her neck, and got Conley to help him get rid of the body.

She was raped - when did he do it?

The state saw something significant in the fact that, in a letter which Leo said he wrote to his father that Saturday, he told him that "there was nothing startling" in Atlanta to report--thus preparing his alibi in advance of the discovery of the body.


The next thing he remembered, Conley said, was Frank’s stomping his foot -- the signal to lock the front door. He added:

"The next thing I heard was Mr. Frank whistling. Mr. Frank was standing there at the top of the steps and shivering and trembling and rubbing his hands like this. He had a little rope in his hands. A long wide piece of rope. His eyes were large. They looked right funny, like diamonds. His face was red.

"He asked, ‘Did you see that little girl who passed here a while ago?’ I told him I saw one come along there and she has no come down, and he says, ‘well, that one you say didn’t come back down, she came into my office a little while ago and I wanted to be with the little girl and she refused me and I struck her and I guess I struck her too hard and she fell and hit her head against something and I didn’t know how bad she got hurt.’"


After several attempts at drafting the notes -- which appeared to be aimed at placing blame for the murder on night watchman Newt Lee -- Frank was finally satisfied, Conley said, and gave him $200 with the instructions: "You go down there in the basement and you take a lot of trash and burn that package that’s in front of the furnace."

But, Conley added, "I was afraid to go down there by myself and Mr. Frank wouldn’t go with me. He said, ‘there’s no need of my going down there.’ And I said, ‘Mr. Frank, you are a white man and you done it and I’m not going down there and burn that myself.’ He looked at my then, kind of frightened, and he said, ‘Let me see that money,’ and he took the money back and he put it in his pocket."


Q. What did he say next?

A. He turned around in his chair and looked at the money and looked back at me and folded his hands and looked up at the ceiling and said, "Why should I hang? I have wealthy people in Brooklyn." I said, "Mr. Frank, what about me?" and he said, "That’s all right, don’t worry about this thing, you just come back to work Monday like you don’t know anything and keep your mouth shut. If you get caught I will get you out on bond and I will send you away," and he said, "Can you come back this evening and do it?"

Conley said he went home and went to sleep, leaving the body of the little girl in the basement, where it was discovered by Newt Lee the next morning.

What is known to be fact is that her body was discovered strangled in the basement “…ravished and brutally garroted with a piece of cord…blood matted her hair and her face was swollen and grimy”.  Her undergarments were cut open and evidence of sexual misconduct (sodomy, but not vaginal intercourse) was present. 

Racist Defense

Readers who wish to find a progressive Jewish social ethic at work in the Frank camp will be sorely disappointed. Frank's lawyers played the race card for all it was worth. ''Why, Negroes rob and ravish every day in the most peculiar and shocking way,'' they offered. Then they looked the jurors in the eye. ''If you, as white men, should believe Jim Conley, it will be a shame on this great city and on this great state and will be until the end of time.''






Watson had refused a $5000 retainer to defend Frank; he had declined to assist the prosecution. Indeed, he had publicly said nothing about the case. But the Journal had always opposed Watson, who saw the editorial as an opening shot in a "gigantic conspiracy of big money" to corrupt the state’s courts, government and press to save the life of a wealthy murderer.

A celebrated criminal defense lawyer for much of his career, Watson still was no newcomer to publishing


Watson's contentious publications again found the national spotlight in 1914, after Watson bristled at an Atlanta Journal  editorial urging a retrial for Leo Frank. A wealthy, northern, Jewish manager of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, Frank had been convicted a year earlier of raping and murdering Mary Phagan, a working-class thirteen-year-old company employee. Frank's conviction was subsequently upheld on five appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Watson, who had refused offers to assist in the defense and in the prosecution, remained publicly silent on the case until Hoke Smith's newspaper printed the editorial.



Watson assailed the Journal for judicial tampering (the case was under appeal), took on northern publishers who clamored for a new trial, and began a two-year defense of Georgia's judicial system and demonstration of the guilt of the "libertine Jew."

Editorials in his weekly exploded into expansive evidentiary and trial reviews in Watson's Magazine. Georgia governor John M. Slaton commuted Frank's death sentence during his final days in office, outraging many Georgians and prompting Watson to ask his readers "whether Lynch law is not better than no law at all." Two months later Frank was taken from the jail in Milledgeville by a group of prominent Marietta citizens, driven back to Marietta, and hanged. Watson responded to the news through the Jeffersonian: "Now let outsiders attend to their own business, AND LEAVE OURS ALONE." For many, the episode branded Watson as an anti-Semite for the only time in his life.

Watson’s contentious publications again found the national spotlight in 1914, after Watson bristled at an Atlanta Journal editorial urging a retrial for Leo Frank. A wealthy, northern, Jewish manager of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, Frank had been convicted a year earlier of raping and murdering Mary Phagan, a working class 13-year-old company employee. Frank’s conviction was subsequently upheld on five appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Watson, who had refused offers to assist in the defense and in the prosecution, remained publicly silent on the case until Hoke Smith’s newspaper printed the editorial.

Watson assailed the Journal for judicial tampering (the case was under appeal), took on northern publishers who clamored for a new trial, and began a two-year defense of Georgia’s judicial system and demonstration of the guilt of the “libertine Jew.” Editorials in his weekly exploded into expansive evidentiary and trial reviews in Watson’s Magazine.



The purpose of the coroner's inquest is to determine the manner of death. But the Coroner's Jury also brought forth witnesses who suggested that Frank was an immoral womanizer. A number of former employees testified that Frank flirted and made indecent suggestions to female employees. A policeman testified that he had found Frank in a desolate wooded area with a young woman, and that Frank had admitted that he had taken her there "for immoral purposes."




Leo Frank, 29, was a stable, respected, and well-known member of the community. Atlanta had a large Jewish population, which had become highly assimilated under the leadership of Reform rabbi David Marx, and the Franks were part of its upper economic stratum. Frank had been born in Texas and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a German-born physician who had worked as a salesman in the U.S. Frank received an engineering degree at Cornell, and married Lucille Selig in 1910. Lucille came from a wealthy family of industrialists, which had founded the first synagogue in Atlanta two generations earlier. An uncle of Frank's was a wealthy Confederate veteran who owned a large percentage of National Pencil Factory, and it was through him that Leo ended up as the factory's superintendent.

The job was no sinecure, however; Leo was highly qualified, and had traveled to Massachusetts, New York, and Germany for further apprenticeships in pencil manufacturing. Leo was president of a local chapter of the B'nai Brith, and the Franks moved in a cultured and privileged milieu of tennis, bridge, and opera.




Jews Refuse to pay Pinkerton


FEW CRIMINAL TRIALS IN AMERICAN HISTORY have been so carefully studied as Leo Frank’s, and with all the principals of the case now deceased and the written record generally available, it may come as a surprise that there is something new to be said about the case. But there is.

About three months after the murder of Leo Frank, a case was tried in the Fulton County Superior Court, of which Atlanta is the county seat. Unfortunately the record of this trial is not available; the case was appealed, however, and papers associated with that appeal provide an accurate, if less than full, account of the trial’s proceedings, a trial that reveals much about the one that doomed Frank.

The original case, Pinkertoris National Detective Agency v. National Pencil Company, was heard before Judge W. D. Ellis on November 17, 18, 19, and 22, 1915. At issue was an unpaid bill in the amount of $1,286.09 for detective services rendered by Pinkerton in 1913 for the investigation of Mary Phagan’s murder. Pinkerton prevailed in the superior court; National Pencil appealed the decision to the Georgia Court of Appeals, and Pinkerton, now the appellee, won that decision as well.


The reason that the National Pencil Company refused to pay Pinkerton’s bill can be found in the Amended Motion for the New Trial, in which National Pencil claimed that Pinkerton "did not seek honestly and in good faith to ascertain the truth, but, on the contrary, endeavored dishonestly and in bad faith to suppress and distort the truth and to bring about the conviction of Frank regardless of guilt or innocence." Even though the court found against the National Pencil Company, a fair-minded reading of the Brief of Evidence—a 134-page document that summarizes the trial and whose accuracy was ratified by lawyers for both sides—and of supporting papers strongly suggests that Pinkerton wanted Frank to be found guilty and worked toward that end.

The National Pencil Company’s case against Pinkerton turned on the actions of the agency’s employee Harry Scott. As assistant superintendent of Pinkerton’s Atlanta office, Scott was in charge of the investigation of the Phagan murder from the day after her body was discovered in late April until sometime in August, the month Frank was convicted. Ironically it was Leo Frank himself, as manager of the pencil factory, who arranged with Scott to hire Pinkerton. Not only did Scott take an active part in the investigation, he also supervised all the numerous Pinkerton employees looking into the crime.

From the beginning the pencil company’s lawyers should have been wary of the way Scott handled the investigation, for in his testimony Scott explained that "the established policy of the plaintiff [i.e., Pinkerton] in dealing with [a] crime in its relations with the local police is to cooperate with the State and County authorities to the fullest extent and work with them in the interest of public justice." When Frank’s lawyers requested that Scott inform them first about any new development, he was adamant that "any new facts that we unraveled in a criminal case, we go right to the police about it." The Atlanta police, in turn, assigned Detective John Black to work with Scott.

The record indicates that Scott may have been more than merely ineffective as an investigator; there is ample evidence that he actually conspired with the prosecutor, Hugh Dorsey. After Scott was subpoenaed by the prosecution in the Frank trial, Frank’s lawyers asked Scott to discuss with Dorsey beforehand the nature and content of what the prosecutor planned to ask him on the stand and then report back to them. But Scott never spoke to Frank’s lawyer about his forthcoming testimony, although it would prove a devastating setback for the defense.

The reason was that Scott differed with Frank about many things—what Frank had done on the day of the murder, Frank’s knowledge of the principals in the crime, Frank’s behavior after the discovery of the victim’s body—and the accumulation of differences undermined the veracity of the defendant’s testimony. Worse still, Scott posed not only as a disinterested third party whose only concern was the truth but as an employee of the defense.

Early in the trial Scott contradicted what he had said at the coroner’s inquest and written in a report he had made as a Pinkerton employee to the National Pencil Company’s lawyers. At issue was what Frank had told Scott soon after the murder, when he explained how Mary Phagan had come by the pencil factory for her pay and that before leaving she had asked whether the metal had arrived. This was important to her because her job was to attach the metal sleeves to the pencils, and no metal meant no work. Both in his report and at the coroner’s inquest, Scott had said that Frank told him he had answered no to Phagan’s question. However, at the trial Scott changed the answer to "I don’t know," which let the prosecution contend that Frank had an excuse to go with Mary Phagan to another part of the factory where he could check on the metal’s availability and that it was there that the murder had taken place. Though caught off guard, Frank’s attorney, Luther Z. Rosser, was able to question Scott on why he had changed his testimony from what he had written in his report and thus blunt, but not entirely remove, doubts about Frank’s actions on the day of the murder.

Scott may been more than merely ineffective as a defense investigator; he may have actually conspired with the prosecutor.

THIS IS ALSO TRUE OF ANOTHER CHANGE in Scott’s testimony. Scott reported to the pencil-company lawyers that in an early interview Frank had said he had left the pencil factory to go home for lunch at 1:00 P.M. on the day of the murder. At Frank’s trial Scott changed this to 1:10 P.M., suggesting that the defendant had more time to move Mary Phagan’s body to the basement. Again, Rosser pressed Scott for the reason why he changed his testimony from 1:00 P.M. to 1:10 P.M. Scott claimed that "it must be a typographical error" in the coroner’s report and that his notes would show that Frank had said 1:10 P.M. From what is available of the trial record, it appears that these notes were never entered into evidence.

On another point there was no written evidence to help Rosser contradict Scott’s damaging testimony. Scott claimed that Frank had told him that J. M. Gantt, a former employee whom Frank had fired only a couple of weeks before the murder, "was very familiar and intimate with Mary Phagan." This testimony suggested that Frank knew the dead girl by name, although he had testified to the contrary at the coroner’s inquest; indeed, he’d had to check his payroll books to verify that it was Mary Phagan who had been paid around noon that day.

With no written record on this point, all Rosser could obtain from Scott was a lame admission that his failure to mention it at the coroner’s inquest "was an oversight, if anything at all." Under cross-examination Scott made a contradictory statement: "I did not consider it material at all to mention in the report to the Pencil Co. that statement of Leo Frank regarding Gantt’s intimacy with Mary Phagan.…I knew that Frank had stated that he did not know Mary Phagan and that he had to look into the books to tell her name, but it wasn’t a material fact against Frank at that time that he said to me that Gantt was familiar with her.…The first time I saw the materiality of it was when the Solicitor [Dorsey] asked me the question [during Frank’s murder trial]." This is quite an admission for a man who considered himself a savvy and seasoned detective.

The record, however, suggests more than a mere oversight. The following exchange during Frank’s murder trial between Rosser and Scott implies collusion between Dorsey and Scott:

Q. [Rosser] Was it an oversight before the coroner’s inquest too[?] Look at it [i.e., the transcript of the coroner’s inquest], and see if you said anything about that before the coroner’s inquest; your mind was fresher then about a verbal conversation [between you and Frank] than it is now, wasn’t it[?]

A. [Scott] Well, it was fresher on my mind at the time, certainly, but you will understand the coroner asked me certain questions, and I gave him answers to the questions, but he did not cross examine me like Mr. Dorsey has.…

There is more. Scott’s testimony at Frank’s trial on how Frank behaved when confronted with the night watchman Newt Lee, who had found the body and was for a time a prime suspect, went far beyond what Scott had said at the coroner’s inquest. Two days after the discovery of the body, Scott and Detective John Black asked Frank to talk with his employee Lee and persuade him to be more forthcoming. Black and Scott left the two men alone in a room for about ten minutes, then returned. Scott, at Frank’s trial, described what happened next: "…we took seats alongside of both of them; Newt Lee was handcuffed to the chair, and he says: ‘Mr Frank, it is awful hard for me to remain handcuffed to this chair,[’] he says: ‘It is awful hard, awful hard, Mr Frank.’ Frank hung his head the entire time the negro was talking to him. Finally in about 30 seconds, he says: ‘Well, they have got me, too.’"

Dorsey continued the questioning:

Q. [Dorsey] Now, describe if you can the appearance and deportment and manner in which Frank talked and carried himself at the conference set forth on that occasion.

A. [Scott] Well, he was extremely nervous at that time.…very squirmy in his chair, crossing one leg and then with the otherf,] he didn’t know how to put his hands, he was moving them up and down on his face, and he hung his head a great deal of the time while the negro was talking to him, that is, in my presence.

Q. How did he talk[?]

A. Well, as I say, he hesitated some…

Q. How did he breath[e][?]

A. Well, he just took a long sigh that [illustrating], more of a sigh than a breath.

Q. Did you notice his eyes[?]

A. Yes sir, I judged their insecure condition all the way through, yes.

On cross-examination Rosser was not able to refute much of Scott’s testimony. However, he did establish that at the coroner’s inquest Scott had testified he heard nothing of the conversation between Lee and Frank and then at the murder trial claimed that Frank had declared: "Well, they have got me, too." Rosser forced Scott to admit that this was a change in his testimony.

As for Frank’s nervousness, Scott had never mentioned it at the inquest. When Rosser asked him about this, Scott said: "At the time, Frank’s nervousness had no effect whatever on my mind, because I did not consider Frank any suspect at all. Knowing the man was under a strain, I did not suspect him at all at that time, and therefore it was not a material fact at the time. I did not consider him a suspect." This is impossible to believe, for Scott admitted that on the previous day, when he first interviewed the defendant, he "knew then that Frank was under strong suspicion."

Though Rosser blundered later in the trial, he was powerful and effective when confronting the state’s witness John Black, the city detective who worked with Scott on the case. Through careful and insistent questioning, Rosser all but destroyed Black’s testimony against Frank. At one point Black was so confused that he took six minutes to answer a question, and near the end of his testimony he declared, "I don’t like to admit that I’m crossed up, Colonel Rosser, but you have got me in that kind of a fix and I don’t know where I’m at." No surprise then that the headlines of the story of Black’s testimony read: DEFENSE RIDDLES JOHN BLACK’S TESTIMONY/SLEUTH CONFUSED UNDER MERCILESS CROSS-QUESTIONS OF LUTHER ROSSER. The Atlanta Georgian said, "There is a feeling growing more fixed every day,…that the state, if it hopes to win, must set up something more than it has yet made public."

When Scott took the stand, he proved a more difficult target for Rosser’s cross-examination than Black had been. Dorsey was able to get Scott to give testimony that damaged the defense’s case, and as we have seen, because much of this was a surprise to the defense, Rosser was hard-pressed to get Scott to retract it. Summarizing the day’s testimony, the Atlanta Constitution declared, "Harry Scott…proved a strong witness for the state, although at first it looked as if he would prove of more value to the defense." Though the trial had been under way for several days, Scott was the first witness who really aided the case against Frank.

Rosser was emphatic about how the changes in Scott’s testimony had damaged the defense. In the trial over the unpaid Pinkerton bill, he declared: "At no time prior to the trial of the Frank case, was I informed verbally by Mr. Scott…that he intended to change the testimony that he gave at the Coroner’s inquest and the information that he gave me in his reports as to the matter of Frank’s saying ‘no’ or ‘I don’t know[.]’ He certainly did not tell me before he went on the stand at the trial that he was going to testify that Frank told him that Gantt was intimate with Mary Phagan. His testimony at the trial on that point certainly surprised me. In my opinion, as an attorney, that was certainly a matter of materiality and consequence in the case."

On cross-examination Rosser expressed in even stronger terms what he considered Scott’s duplicity: "Mr. Scott never made any effort to get a conference with the attorneys for the defense before the trial. I did not know that Mr. Scott had any opinion about the case that had not been communicated to me…and everything he knew was supposed to have been put in writing in the reports, that he had made to me, and I supposed that those reports were true. If I had thought that Mr. Scott was going to testify anything different from what was in the writings that had been submitted to me, I would have wanted to talk to him."

SCOTT CLAIMED THAT AFTER HE HAD DISCUSSED his testimony with Dorsey, he attempted to speak to Frank’s attorneys but was refused an interview. But surely, if Frank’s lawyers had had any indication that Scott’s testimony at the murder trial would differ from what he’d said at the coroner’s inquest or in his written reports, they would have found time to talk to him.

More plausible is that even though he was employed by the defense lawyers, Scott had been conspiring with Dorsey for some time to establish Frank’s guilt. This is nowhere more evident than in the role he played in the several statements made by the prosecution’s most devastating witness, Jim Conley.

At first Conley had been overlooked as a possible suspect because the investigators believed his claim that he could not write. But at some point two Pinkerton detectives, L. P. Whitfield and W. D. McWorth, became suspicious. According to Leo Gottheimer, a National Pencil Company salesman, the two detectives visited the factory on May 16, 1913, a little more than two weeks after the murder, and asked "those present if they knew whether Jim Conley could write." At McWorth’s request Gottheimer went over to the "Tower," the county jail where Frank was being held, to ask Frank. The answer was definitive: "Yes, I know he can write, I have had notes from him asking me to lend him money…"

Frank directed Herbert Schiff, acting superintendent of the pencil factory, to a drawer in the company safe that contained documents associated with Conley’s purchase of watches from local jewelry stores and pawnshops. These led the Pinkerton detectives to three shops where they were able to secure loan contracts signed by Conley, and when the signatures were compared with the murder notes, Whit field noted in his report for that day, "the hand writing appeared to be identical."

Four times in all, and all under oath, Schiff insisted Harry Scott had stated explicitly that Pinkerton wanted Frank to be found guilty.

Though Scott could not prevent the knowledge that Conley was able to write from becoming known, he did try to hide Frank’s role in its discovery, for if Frank were guilty of the murder and Conley were his accomplice, then Frank would be expected to try to shield Conley from questioning.

Luther Rosser had no doubts about the significance of Scott’s failure to inform him that Frank was instrumental in the discovery. At the unpaid-debt trial he stated, "In my opinion, as an attorney, it was material that I should have known before hand the information that the Pinkerton’s [sic] had that Leo Frank had said that Conley could write and that information should have been given me by the Pinkertons." Under questioning by the attorney Harry A. Alexander, acting for the pencil company, Rosser explained how valuable this knowledge could have been for the defense:

Q. [Alexander] When Mr. Scott took his stand at the trial and testified that he ha[d] gotton [sic] the information about Conley writing from sources entirely disconnected from the pencil factory, would it or would it not have been material to you?…You could have disproved it by their own reports, couldn’t you[,] if Mr. Scott, had—

A. [Rosser] If they had reported to me, I could have shown it in their reports, of course.

Q. Yes, if it was in that report that they had got it from Leo Frank?

A. If they had given me that information I could have just handed it up to him [Scott], and said: "What did you report that to me for?"

Evidence offered by the National Pencil Company lawyers shows that Scott edited Pinkerton documents to remove any mention of Frank. This evidence consisted of two copies of Whitfield’s report for May 16, 1913—a draft in Whitfield’s hand and the final typed version. In the handwritten version the following words were crossed out: "but that he would sent [sic] to the tower and learn from Leo Frank if Conley could write." These words did not appear in the typed version submitted to Frank’s lawyers, and it was Harry Scott who had edited Whitfield’s draft report.

Once Conley became a prime suspect, he eventually made four different statements, a process that involved Harry Scott more than any person except Conley himself. At Frank’s trial Scott claimed that he coaxed Conley to write by dictating "That long, tall, black negro did by himself," words similar to those on the murder notes. Scott explained: "We [Scott and John Black] talked very strongly to him, and tried to make him give a confession[;] we used a little profanity, and cussed him, and he made that statement that he knew that I knew that he could write; we talked for about 2 or 3 hours that day. He made another statement on May 24th, which was put in writing."

On the basis of the second statement, Scott and Black "questioned him [Conley] very closely for about 3 hours" and again the next day, but Conley stuck to his story. In this statement Conley claimed that Frank had paid him to write the murder notes on Friday, April 25, the day before the killing. Scott continued: "We saw him [Conley] again on May 27th in Chief [Newport] Lanford’s office. Talked to him about 5 or 6 hours. We tried to impress him with the fact that Frank would not have written those notes on Friday, that was not a reasonable story, that showed premeditation and that wouldn’t do."

On May 28, 1913, Scott, joined this time by Chief Lanford, "grilled" Conley for "5 or 6 hours, endeavoring to make clear several points which were far fetched in his statement; we pointed out to him [Conley] that his statement would not do, and would not fit. He then made us another long statement on May 28th."

This was Conley’s third statement. On the very next day, May 29, Scott and another person, most likely either John Black or Chief Lanford, spent "almost all day" talking with Conley in an attempt to improve on it. As Scott explained, "we pointed out things in his story that were improbable, and told him he must do better than that, anything in his story that looked to be out of place, we told him wouldn’t do; after he had made his last statement, we did not wish to make any further suggestions to him at that time; he then made his last statement on May 29th."

MORE THAN TWO YEARS LATER, when he was confronted with these statements by the National Pencil Company attorneys, Scott explained that he was only trying "to make Conley confess that he killed the girl. That was my idea, and I put most unusual efforts in that line. The affidavits that I took from Conley were taken to make him confess that he committed the crime himself."

This strains credulity. Scott’s own words give ample evidence that rather than induce Conley to confess that he alone murdered Mary Phagan, Scott was working with Conley to produce a statement that would convict Frank of the killing and portray Conley as a paid accomplice after the fact. Had Scott and the others not pushed Conley on his several statements, it is very likely that Conley rather than Frank would have been found guilty.

The sequence of events lends further support to the hypothesis that Scott and the prosecution were working singlemindedly to establish Frank’s guilt. Conley made his second statement on May 24, 1913, the same day that Frank was indicted for the murder. If Scott was really trying to get Conley to confess, the indictment could have been delayed pending the results of his interrogation. Rather, they had no doubt already made up their minds; Scott could not have been ignorant of the proceedings of the grand jury as he testified before it on the very day Frank was indicted.

THE TRIAL OVER THE UNPAID BILL OFFERS further evidence about Scott’s motives. According to H. B. Pierce, superintendent of Pinkerton’s Atlanta office, Scott failed to broaden the investigation to include Conley but "was entirely interested in developing the Frank proposition." Pierce testified that he and Scott "clashed very often" and "had several discussions on some matters [associated with the investigation] bordering at time[s] on quarrels." Pierce went on to say that Scott "was influenced by public opinion, he was of the opinion that if so many people saw it that way, that is the way the case was being developed, [and] that, in his opinion, must be right, against all other facts or anything else, regardless of [the] facts." Pierce, on the other hand, thought that public opinion could be wrong and that if there were differences between the Pinkerton agency and the police, Pinkerton should "go on making [the] investigation for our client, regardless of the theories of the police department or anybody else, or we would quit."

The reason that Scott could go against the wishes of Pierce, his supervisor, was that the Pinkerton hierarchy was on his side. Pierce testified that "Mr. Scott had the weight of opinion both with his superiors and with himself. By superiors, I mean his general superintendent and his other superior officers. Mr. Scott, was then in correspondence with the officers higher than myself and his course in working on the Frank angle met [with] their approval."

Pierce queried his immediate superior A. S. Cowerdin. "I went over the case with him in detail and explained my views. He very politely replied that from the revealed facts and the reports that had been submitted, and that were being rendered, it was his opinion that the investigation was being carried on in a proper way. He disagreed with me and agreed with Mr. Scott."

Pierce was not the only one in the local Atlanta Pinkerton office who differed with Scott over the direction of the investigation. Leo Gottheimer, the National Pencil Company salesman who had been sent to ask Frank whether Conley could write, testified about conversations he had had with Whitfield and McWorth. According to Gottheimer, the two investigators "said as to the relations between themselves and their superiors…there seemed to be friction with their superiors, everything they done…they told me they would not accept their theories, and they seemed to be tickled to death to get this new evidence…[that Conley could write. Gottheimer quotes them as saying] ‘We have got the goods now, they can’t deny this, we can prove this on them in such a way that they can’t deny it.’"

Herbert Schiff, Frank’s successor as factory superintendent, also testified about tensions in the Pinkerton’s Atlanta office. During several of the many visits that Whitfield and McWorth made to the factory, "they told me of the dissention [sic] in the office, and of the things that they put up that never seemed to agree with Mr. Scott, and Whitfield told me on one occasion that Mr. Scott called him into the private office and told him that if Leo Frank wasn’t convicted it would be the last of the Pinkerton agency in Atlanta." Twice under crossexamination and twice more under re-direct examina- don—four times in all, and all under oath—Schiff insisted that Scott had stated explicitly that Pinkerton wanted Frank to be found guilty.

In itself this document, the Brief of Evidence, which has for so long lain dormant, does not prove guilt or innocence. It does, however, add substantially to the evidence that Leo Frank did not receive a fair trial. In fact, the conclusion that he was railroaded is now inescapable.

Whatever his reasons, Harry Scott was a key figure in convicting Frank of murder. Less certain, but still highly suggestive, was the malign role played by the prosecutor, Hugh Dorsey. Here ambition was certainly a motive, and a successful one, for Dorsey was twice elected governor of Georgia. This document strongly suggests that Dorsey urged witnesses to embellish their testimony, even lie under oath, to build a case against Frank.

The picture that emerges from this civil trial over an unpaid bill is of a conspiracy between the prosecutor Hugh Dorsey and Harry Scott of Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency to find Leo Frank guilty of murder. Although we will almost certainly never know just what was said between Dorsey and Scott, their collaboration seems to have assured that Leo Frank would not receive a fair trial for a crime he almost certainly did not commit.

Stephen J. Goldfarb is on the staff of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library in Atlanta, Georgia.


Maude McKnight - cook

After Conley’s depositions, Mrs. Maude McKnight, the cook in the Frank household, was grilled for four hours and kept in jail for another twenty-four. 

She signed a statement that she had overheard Mrs. Frank tell her mother that her husband had “confessed to a crime.”  She repudiated her affidavit after her release.  The questioning of her cook brought an angry protest from Mrs. Frank, who deplored the treatment of Mrs. McKnight.  She further stated that her husband was innocent.  Hugh Dorsey responded to reporters’ questions by pointing out that a wife is expected to defend her husband.






Jew's Bribing people

Paid on Friday because of holiday - Frank told Mary she had to come Saturday

Mary Frightened of Franks



Phagan's friend, fifteen-year-old newsboy George Epps, came forward to say that Frank had flirted with Phagan, and frightened her:

She began talking about Mr. Frank. When she would leave the factory on some afternoons, she said, Frank would rush out in front of her and try to flirt with her as she passed. She told me that he had often winked at her and tried to pay her attention. He would look hard and straight at her, she said, and then would smile. It happened often, she said. She told me she wanted me to come down to the factory when she got off as often as I could to escort her home and kinder protect her.
Next on the stand was George Epps, a thirteen-year-old boy who also worked at the National Pencil Factory, where Frank was supervisor. Epps had ridden the streetcar with Phagan the morning of April 26th, and the two had agreed to meet for an ice cream and to watch the Confederate Memorial Day Parade at 1:00 p.m. When Mary didn't show, Epps went to a baseball game.







Alonso Mann.... Frank’s former office boy

On the fourteenth day of the trial, a thirteen year-old office boy named Alonzo Mann testified that he never saw strange women enter Leo Frank's office, his testimony was discounted.

Leo Frank's office boy, Alonzo Mann. I was nervous and afraid that day. I was very nervous. The courtroom was filled with people. Every seat was taken. I was interested mostly in getting out of there. It was not an easy place for a young boy to be, there in court like that. The prosecution insinuated that Frank was homosexual, and that an office boy who testified for the defense had been having sex with Frank

Among the many witnesses had been a young boy, Alonzo Mann, who was one of the office boys who worked for Frank. He was nervous and timid the few minutes he was on the stand


In 1982, 70 years after Mary Phagan's murder, pro-Frank operatives backed by the ADL met with Alonzo Mann, an office boy at the National Pencil Factory who was in the building on the day the crime was committed. The ADL claims the critically ill, 83-year-old man gave death bed testimony implicating another suspect


Conley testified that Frank had called him to his office a little after noon that day and told him that Mary Phagan’s body was in the metal room on the second floor. He testified that Frank told him to get the body and take it on the elevator down to the basement. He swore that he tried to carry the body to the elevator but dropped Mary Phagan because she was too heavy for him to carry. At that point, he testified, he asked Frank to help him. According to Conley’s testimony, Frank picked her up by her legs, while Conley lifted the upper part of her body. Conley said that Frank had pulled the rope to start the elevator down and that they went with the body directly to the basement, past the first floor without stopping there.

Conley claimed that Frank dragged the body from the elevator to a point in the rear of the building. Conley contended during the trial that after Frank dragged the body away from the elevator, Conley ascended in the elevator and Frank came back upstairs by way of the trapdoor to the first floor, and then came on up the stairway from the first to the second floor.



The lynching

The facts. 1914, Atlanta. A Jewish factory owner called Leo Frank was convicted of the rape and murder of a young girl in his employ: ‘And ravaged her. And beat her. And took her life.’ After a period in gaol, Frank was forcibly taken by a mob, castrated and lynched. A postcard of the limp body hanging from a tree, his mutilation discreetly disguised by a blanket, was for a time a big seller in the enlightened South.


The miscarriage of justice was so blatant that even arch anti-Semite Henry Ford signed an appeal for clemency.


Lemmie Quinn


Lemmie Quinn testifies that he reached Frank’s office about 12.20 and saw Mr. Frank. At 12.30, Mrs. J.A. White called to see her husband at the Factory where he was working on the fourth floor, and left again before one o’clock.

Frank also produced alibis for the entire time during which the crime could have been committed, but suspicion was aroused by the fact that he waited a week to bring forward one crucial witness, Lemmie Quinn, saying that he had forgotten.

Lemmie Quinn, foreman of Mary Phagan's work area at the National Pencil Factory, testified he saw Leo Frank the Saturday of the murder and that all was perfectly normal. Furthermore he knew Frank well and was certain that he was not guilty of the murder. But detectives accused him of accepting a bribe from Frank to make those statements, an accusation Quinn firmly denied.