100 Reasons Leo Frank Is Guilty | The American Mercury

Posted By on March 3, 2021

Proving That Anti-Semitism Had Nothing to Do With His Conviction and Proving That His Defenders Have Used Frauds and Hoaxes for 100 Years

by Bradford L. Huieexclusive to The American Mercury

MARY PHAGAN was just thirteen years old. She was a sweatshop laborer for Atlanta, Georgias National Pencil Company. Exactly 100 years ago today Saturday, April 26, 1913 little Mary (pictured, artists depiction) was looking forward to the festivities of Confederate Memorial Day. She dressed gaily and planned to attend the parade. She had just come to collect her $1.20 pay from National Pencil Company superintendent Leo M. Frank at his office when she was attacked by an assailant who struck her down, ripped her undergarments, likely attempted to sexually abuse her, and then strangled her to death. Her body was dumped in the factory basement.

Leo M. Frank

(Listen to the audio book version of this article by pressing the play button below:)

Leo Frank, who was the head of Atlantas Bnai Brith, a Jewish fraternal order, was eventually convicted of the murder and sentenced to hang. After a concerted and lavishly financed campaign by the American Jewish community, Franks death sentence was commuted to life in prison by an outgoing governor. But he was snatched from his prison cell and hung by a lynching party consisting, in large part, of leading citizens outraged by the commutation order and none of the lynchers were ever prosecuted or even indicted for their crime. One result of Franks trial and death was the founding of the still-powerful Anti-Defamation League.

Today Leo Franks innocence, and his status as a victim of anti-Semitism, are almost taken for granted. But are these current attitudes based on the facts of the case, or are they based on a propaganda campaign that began 100 years ago? Lets look at the facts.

It has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt that either Leo Frank or National Pencil Company sweeper Jim Conley was the killer of Mary Phagan. Every other person who was in the building at the time has been fully accounted for. Those who believe Frank to be innocent say, without exception, that Jim Conley must have been the killer.

Jim Conley

On the 100th anniversary of the inexpressibly tragic death of this sweet and lovely girl, let us examine 100 reasons why the jury that tried him believed (and why we ought to believe, once we see the evidence) that Leo Max Frank strangled Mary Phagan to death 100 reasons proving that Franks supporters have used multiple frauds and hoaxes and have tampered with the evidence on a massive scale 100 reasons proving that the main idea that Franks modern defenders put forth, that Leo Frank was a victim of anti-Semitism, is the greatest hoax of all.

1. Only Leo Frank had the opportunity to be alone with Mary Phagan, and he admits he was alone with her in his office when she came to get her pay and in fact he was completely alone with her on the second floor. Had Jim Conley been the killer, he would have had to attack her practically right at the entrance to the building where he sat almost all day, where people were constantly coming and going and where several witnesses noticed Conley, with no assurance of even a moment of privacy.

2. Leo Frank had told Newt Lee, the pencil factorys night watchman, to come earlier than usual, at 4 PM, on the day of the murder. But Frank was extremely nervous when Lee arrived (the killing of Mary Phagan had occurred between three and four hours before and her body was still in the building) and insisted that Lee leave and come back in two hours.

3. When Lee then suggested he could sleep for a couple of hours on the premises and there was a cot in the basement near the place where Lee would ultimately find the body Frank refused to let him. Lee could also have slept in the packing room adjacent to Leo Franks office. But Frank insisted that Lee had to leave and have a good time instead. This violated the corporate rule that once the night watchman entered the building, he could not leave until he handed over the keys to the day watchman. Newt Lee, though strongly suspected at first, was manifestly innocent and had no reason to lie, and had had good relations with Frank and no motive to hurt him.

4. When Lee returned at six, Frank was even more nervous and agitated than two hours earlier, according to Lee. He was so nervous, he could not operate the time clock properly, something he had done hundreds of times before. (Leo Frank officially started to work at the National Pencil Company on Monday morning, August 10, 1908. Twenty-two days later, on September 1, 1908, he was elevated to the position of superintendent of the company, and served in this capacity until he was arrested on Tuesday morning, April 29, 1913.)

Newt Lee

5. When Leo Frank came out of the building around six, he met not only Lee but John Milton Gantt, a former employee who was a friend of Mary Phagan. Lee says that when Frank saw Gantt, he visibly jumped back and appeared very nervous when Gantt asked to go into the building to retrieve some shoes that he had left there. According to E.F. Holloway, J.M. Gantt had known Mary for a long time and was one of the only employees Mary Phagan spoke with at the factory. Gantt was the former paymaster of the firm. Frank had fired him three weeks earlier, allegedly because the payroll was short about $1. Was Gantts firing a case of the dragon getting rid of the prince to get the princess? Was Frank jealous of Gantts closeness with Mary Phagan? Unlike Frank, Gantt was tall with bright blue eyes and handsome features.

J.M. Gantt

6. After Frank returned home in the evening after the murder, he called Newt Lee on the telephone and asked him if everything was all right at the factory, something he had never done before. A few hours later Lee would discover the mutilated body of Mary Phagan in the pencil factory basement.

7. When police finally reached Frank after the body of Mary Phagan had been found, Frank emphatically denied knowing the murdered girl by name, even though he had seen her probably hundreds of times he had to pass by her work station, where she had worked for a year, every time he inspected the workers area on the second floor and every time he went to the bathroom and he had filled out her pay slip personally on approximately 52 occasions, marking it with her initials M. P. Witnesses also testified that Frank had spoken to Mary Phagan on multiple occasions, even getting a little too close for comfort at times, putting his hand on her shoulder and calling her Mary.

8. When police accompanied Frank to the factory on the morning after the murder, Frank was so nervous and shaking so badly he could not even perform simple tasks like unlocking a door.

9. Early in the investigation, Leo Frank told police that he knew that J.M. Gantt had been intimate with Mary Phagan, immediately making Gantt a suspect. Gantt was arrested and interrogated. But how could Frank have known such a thing about a girl he didnt even know by name?

10. Also early in the investigation, while both Leo Frank and Newt Lee were being held and some suspicion was still directed at Lee, a bloody shirt was discovered in a barrel at Lees home. Investigators became suspicious when it was proved that the blood marks on the shirt had been made by wiping it, unworn, in the liquid. The shirt had no trace of body odor and the blood had fully soaked even the armpit area, even though only a small quantity of blood was found at the crime scene. This was the first sign that money was being used to procure illegal acts and interfere in the case in such a way as to direct suspicion away from Leo M. Frank. This became a virtual certainty when Lee was definitely cleared.

A few members of Mary Phagans family; originally published in the Atlanta Georgian

Mary Phagan and her aunt, Mattie Phagan

11. Leo Frank claimed that he was in his office continuously from noon to 12:35 on the day of the murder, but a witness friendly to Frank, 14-year-old Monteen Stover, said Franks office was totally empty from 12:05 to 12:10 while she waited for him there before giving up and leaving. This was approximately the same time as Mary Phagans visit to Franks office and the time she was murdered. On Sunday, April 27, 1913, Leo Frank told police that Mary Phagan came into his office at 12:03 PM. The next day, Frank made a deposition to the police, with his lawyers present, in which he said he was alone with Mary Phagan in his office between 12:05 and 12:10. Frank would later change his story again, stating on the stand that Mary Phagan came into his office a full five minutes later than that.

12. Leo Frank contradicted his own testimony when he finally admitted on the stand that he had possibly unconsciously gone to the Metal Room bathroom between 12:05 and 12:10 PM on the day of the murder.

Floor plan of the National Pencil Company click for high resolution

13. The Metal Room, which Frank finally admitted at trial he might have unconsciously visited at the approximate time of the killing (and where no one else except Mary Phagan could be placed by investigators), was the room in which the prosecution said the murder occurred. It was also where investigators had found spots of blood, and some blondish hair twisted on a lathe handle where there had definitely been no hair the day before. (When R.P. Barret left work on Friday evening at 6:00 PM, he had left a piece of work in his machine that he intended to finish on Monday morning at 6:30 AM. It was then he found the hair with dried blood on it on his lathe. How did it get there over the weekend, if the factory was closed for the holiday? Several co-workers testified the hair resembled Mary Phagans. Nearby, on the floor adjacent to the Metal Rooms bathroom door, was a five-inch-wide fan-shaped blood stain.)

The Metal Room, where the blood spots and hair were found; and the basement of the National Pencil Company, where Mary Phagans strangled and dragged body was found

Closeup of the artists representation of the hair found on the lathe handle

14. In his initial statement to authorities, Leo Frank stated that after Mary Phagan picked up her pay in his office, She went out through the outer office and I heard her talking with another girl. This other girl never existed. Every person known to be in the building was extensively investigated and interviewed, and no girl spoke to Mary Phagan nor met her at that time. Monteen Stover was the only other girl there, and she saw only an empty office. Stover was friendly with Leo Frank, and in fact was a positive character witness for him. She had no reason to lie. But Leo Frank evidently did. (Atlanta Georgian, April 28, 1913)

15. In an interview shortly after the discovery of the murder, Leo Frank stated I have been in the habit of calling up the night watchman to keep a check on him, and at 7 oclock called Newt. But Newt Lee, who had no motive to hurt his boss (in fact quite the opposite) firmly maintained that in his three weeks of working as the factorys night watchman, Frank had never before made such a call. (Atlanta Georgian, April 28, 1913)

Three-dimensional diagram of the National Pencil Company headquarters in the Venable building

16. A few days later, Frank told the press, referring to the National Pencil Company factory where the murder took place, I deeply regret the carelessness shown by the police department in not making a complete investigation as to finger prints and other evidence before a great throng of people were allowed to enter the place. But it was Frank himself, as factory superintendent, who had total control over access to the factory and crime scene who was fully aware that evidence might thereby be destroyed and who allowed it to happen. (Atlanta Georgian, April 29, 1913)

17. Although Leo Frank made a public show of support for Newt Lee, stating Lee was not guilty of the murder, behind the scenes he was saying quite different things. In its issue of April 29, 1913, the Atlanta Georgian published an article titled Suspicion Lifts from Frank, in which it was stated that the police were increasingly of the opinion that Newt Lee was the murderer, and that additional clews furnished by the head of the pencil factory [Frank] were responsible for closing the net around the negro watchman. The discovery that the bloody shirt found at Lees home was planted, along with other factors such as Lees unshakable testimony, would soon change their views, however.

18. One of the clews provided by Frank was his claim that Newt Lee had not punched the companys time clock properly, evidently missing several of his rounds and giving him time to kill Mary Phagan and return home to hide the bloody shirt. But that directly contradicted Franks initial statement the morning after the murder that Lees time slip was complete and proper in every way. Why the change? The attempt to frame Lee would eventually crumble, especially after it was discovered that Mary Phagan died shortly after noon, four hours before Newt Lees first arrival at the factory.

19. Almost immediately after the murder, pro-Frank partisans with the National Pencil Company hired the Pinkerton detective agency to investigate the crime. But even the Pinkertons, being paid by Franks supporters, eventually were forced to come to the conclusion that Frank was the guilty man. (The Pinkertons were hired by Sigmund Montag of the National Company at the behest of Leo Frank, with the understanding that they were to ferret out the murderer, no matter who he was. After Leo Frank was convicted, Harry Scott and the Pinkertons were stiffed out of an investigation bill totaling some $1300 for their investigative work that had indeed helped to ferret out the murderer, no matter who he was. The Pinkertons had to sue to win their wages and expenses in court, but were never able to fully collect. Mary Phagans mother also took the National Pencil Company to court for wrongful death, and the case settled out of court. She also was never able to fully collect the settlement. These are some of the unwritten injustices of the Leo Frank case, in which hard-working and incorruptible detectives were stiffed out of their money for being incorruptible, and a mother was cheated of her daughters life and then cheated out of her rightful settlement as well.) (Atlanta Georgian, May 26, 1913, Pinkerton Man says Frank Is Guilty Pencil Factory Owners Told Him Not to Shield Superintendent, Scott Declares)

20. That is not to say that were not factions within the Pinkertons, though. One faction was not averse to planting false evidence. A Pinkerton agent named W.D. McWorth three weeks after the entire factory had been meticulously examined by police and Pinkerton men miraculously discovered a bloody club, a piece of cord like that used to strangle Mary Phagan, and an alleged piece of Mary Phagans pay envelope on the first floor of the factory, near where the factorys Black sweeper, Jim Conley, had been sitting on the fatal day. This was the beginning of the attempt to place guilt for the killing on Conley, an effort which still continues 100 years later. The discovery was so obviously and patently false that it was greeted with disbelief by almost everyone, and McWorth was pulled off the investigation and eventually discharged by the Pinkerton agency.

W.D. McWorth

21. It also came out that McWorth had made his finds while chief Pinkerton investigator Harry Scott was out of town. Most interestingly, and contrary to Scotts direct orders, McWorths discoveries were reported immediately to Franks defense team, but not at all to the police. A year later, McWorth surfaced once more, now as a Burns agency operative, a firm which was by then openly working in the interests of Frank. One must ask: Who would pay for such obstruction of justice? and why? (Frey, The Silent and the Damned, page 46; Indianapolis Star, May 28, 1914; The Frank Case, Atlanta Publishing Co., p. 65)

City Detective Black, left; and Pinkerton investigator Harry Scott, right

22. Jim Conley told police two obviously false narratives before finally breaking down and admitting that he was an accessory to Leo Frank in moving of the body of Mary Phagan and in authoring, at Franks direction, the death notes found near the body in the basement. These notes, ostensibly from Mary Phagan but written in semi-literate Southern black dialect, seemed to point to the night watchman as the killer. To a rapt audience of investigators and factory officials, Conley re-enacted his and Franks conversations and movements on the day of the killing. Investigators, and even some observers who were very skeptical at first, felt that Conleys detailed narrative had the ring of truth.

23. At trial, the leading and most expensive criminal defense lawyers in the state of Georgia could not trip up Jim Conley or shake him from his story.

24. Conley stated that Leo Frank sometimes employed him to watch the entrance to the factory while Frank chatted with teenage girl employees upstairs. Conley said that Frank admitted that he had accidentally killed Mary Phagan when she resisted his advances, and sought his help in the hiding of the body and in writing the black-dialect death notes that attempted to throw suspicion on the night watchman. Conley said he was supposed to come back later to burn Mary Phagans body in return for $200, but fell asleep and did not return.

25. Blood spots were found exactly where Conley said that Mary Phagans lifeless body was found by him in the second floor metal room.

26. Hair that looked like Mary Phagans was found on a Metal Room lathe immediately next to where Conley said he found her body, where she had apparently fallen after her altercation with Leo Frank.

Rare diagram/photograph showing rear of the National Pencil Company building and insets detailing where blood, hair, and body of Mary Phagan were found (click for a large, high-resolution version)

27. Blood spots were found exactly where Conley says he dropped Mary Phagans body while trying to move it. Conley could not have known this. If he was making up his story, this is a coincidence too fantastic to be accepted.

28. A piece of Mary Phagans lacy underwear was looped around her neck, apparently in a clumsy attempt to hide the deeply indented marks of the rope which was used to strangle her. No murderer could possibly believe that detectives would be fooled for an instant by such a deception. But a murderer who needed another mans help for a few minutes in disposing of a body might indeed believe it would serve to briefly conceal the real nature of the crime from his assistant, perhaps being mistaken for a lace collar.

Mary Phagan autopsy photograph

29. If Conley was the killer and it had to be Conley or Frank he moved the body of Mary Phagan by himself. The lacy loop around Mary Phagans neck would serve absolutely no purpose in such a scenario.

30. The dragging marks on the basement floor, leading to where Mary Phagans body was dumped near the furnace, began at the elevator exactly matching Jim Conleys version of events.

31. Much has been made of Conleys admission that he defecated in the elevator shaft on Saturday morning, and the idea that, because the detectives crushed the feces for the first time when they rode down in the elevator the next day, Conleys story that he and Frank used the elevator to bring Mary Phagans body to the basement on Saturday afternoon could not be true thus bringing Conleys entire story into question. But how could anyone determine with certainty that the crushing was the first crushing? And nowhere in the voluminous records of the case including Governor Slatons commutation order in which he details his supposed tests of the elevator can we find evidence that anyone made even the most elementary inquiry into whether or not the bottom surface of the elevator car was uniformly flat.

32. Furthermore, the so-called shit in the shaft theory of Franks innocence also breaks down when we consider the fact that detectives inspected the floor of the elevator shaft before riding down in the elevator, and found in it Mary Phagans parasol and a large quantity of trash and debris. Detective R.M. Lassiter stated at the inquest into Mary Phagans death, in answer to the question Is the bottom of the elevator shaft of concrete or wood, or what? that I dont know. It was full of trash and I couldnt see. There was so much trash there, the investigator couldnt even tell what the floor of the shaft was made of! There may well have been enough trash, and arranged in such a way, to have prevented the crushing of the waste material when Frank and Conley used the elevator to transport Mary Phagans body to the basement. In digging through this trash, detectives could easily have moved it enough to permit the crushing of the feces the next time the elevator was run down.

33. The defenses theory of Conleys guilt involves Conley alone bringing Mary Phagans body to the basement down the scuttle hole ladder, not the elevator. But Lassiter was insistent that the dragging marks did not begin at the ladder, stating at the inquest: No, sir; the dragging signs went past the foot of the ladder. I saw them between the elevator and the ladder. Why would Conley pointlessly drag the body backwards toward the elevator, when his goal was the furnace? Why were there no signs of his turning around if he had done so? If Mary Phagans body could leave dragging marks on the irregular and dirty surface of the basement, why were there no marks of a heavy body being dumped down the scuttle hole as the defense alleged Conley to have done? Why did Mary Phagans body not have the multiple bruises it would have to have incurred from being hurled 14 feet down the scuttle hole to the basement floor below?

34. Leo Frank changed the time at which he said Mary Phagan came to collect her pay. He initially said that it was 12:03, then said that it might have been 12:05 to 12:10, maybe 12:07. But at the inquest he moved his estimates a full five minutes later: Q: What time did she come in? A: I dont know exactly; it was 12:10 or 12:15. Q: How do you fix the time that she came in as 12:10 or 12:15? A: Because the other people left at 12 and I judged it to be ten or fifteen minutes later when she came in. He seems to have no solid basis for his new estimate, so why change it by five minutes, or at all?

35. Pinkerton detective Harry Scott, who was employed by Leo Frank to investigate the murder, testified that he was asked by Franks defense team to withhold from the policeany evidence his agency might find until after giving it to Franks lawyers. Scott refused.

36. Newt Lee, who was proved absolutely innocent, and who never tried to implicate anyone including Leo Frank, says Frank reacted with horror when Lee suggested that Mary Phagan might have been killed during the day, and not at night as was commonly believed early in the investigation. The daytime was exactly when Frank was at the factory, and Lee wasnt. Here Detective Harry Scott testifies as to part of the conversation that ensued when Leo Frank and Newt Lee were purposely brought together: Q: What did Lee say? A: Lee says that Frank didnt want to talk about the murder. Lee says he told Frank he knew the murder was committed in daytime, and Frank hung his head and said Lets dont talk about that!' (Atlanta Georgian, May 8, 1913, Lee Repeats His Private Conversation With Frank)

37. When Newt Lee was questioned at the inquest about this arranged conversation, he confirms that Frank didnt want to continue the conversation when Lee stated that the killing couldnt possibly have happened during his evening and nighttime watch: Q: Tell the jury of your conversation with Frank in private. A: I was in the room and he came in. I said, Mr. Frank, it is mighty hard to be sitting here handcuffed. He said he thought I was innocent, and I said I didnt know anything except finding the body. Yes, Mr. Frank said, and you keep that up we will both go to hell! I told him that if she had been killed in the basement I would have known it, and he said, Dont lets talk about that let that go!' (Atlanta Georgian, May 8, 1913, Lee Repeats His Private Conversation With Frank)

38. Former County Policeman Boots Rogers, who drove the officers to Franks home and then took them all, including Frank, back to the factory on the morning of April 27, said Frank was so nervous that he was hoarse even before being told of the murder. (Atlanta Georgian, May 8, 1913, Rogers Tells What Police Found at the Factory)

Boots Rogers

39. Rogers also states that he personally inspected Newt Lees time slip the one that Leo Frank at first said had no misses, but later claimed the reverse. The Atlanta Georgian on May 8 reported what Rogers saw: Rogers said he looked at the slip and the first punch was at 6:30 and last at 2:30. There were no misses, he said. Frank, unfortunately, was allowed to take the slip and put it in his desk. Later a slip with several punches missing would turn up. How can this be reconciled with the behavior of an innocent man?

40. The curious series of events surrounding Lees time slip is totally inconsistent with theory of a police frame-up of Leo Frank. At the time these events occurred, suspicion was strongly directed at Lee, and not at Frank.

41. When Leo Frank accompanied the officers to the police station later on during the day after the murder, Rogers stated that Leo Frank was literally so nervous that his hands were visibly shaking.

42. Factory Foreman Lemmie Quinn would eventually testify for the defense that Leo Frank was calmly sitting in his office at 12:20, a few minutes after the murder probably occurred. As to whether this visit really happened, there is some question. Quinn says he came to visit Schiff, Franks personal assistant, who wasnt there was he even expected to be there on a Saturday and holiday? and stayed only two minutes or so talking to Frank in the office. Frank at first said there was no such visit, and only remembered it days later when Quinn refreshed his memory.

43. As reported by the Atlanta Georgian, City detective John Black said even Quinn initially denied that there was such a visit! Q: What did Mr. Quinn say to you about his trip to the factory Saturday? A: Mr. Quinn said he was not at the factory on the day of the murder. Q: How many times did he say it? A: Two or three times. I heard him tell Detective Starnes that he had not been there. (Atlanta Georgian, May 8, 1913, Black Testifies Quinn Denied Visiting Factory)

44. Several young women and girls testified at the inquest that Frank had made improper advances toward them, in one instance touching a girls breast and in another appearing to offer money for compliance with his desires. The Atlanta Georgian reported: Girls and women were called to the stand to testify that they had been employed at the factory or had had occasion to go there, and that Frank had attempted familiarities with them. Nellie Pettis, of 9 Oliver Street, declared that Frank had made improper advances to her. She was asked if she had ever been employed at the pencil factory. No, she answered. Q: Do you know Leo Frank? A: I have seen him once or twice. Q: When and where did you see him? A: In his office at the factory whenever I went to draw my sister-in-laws pay. Q: What did he say to you that might have been improper on any of these visits? A: He didnt exactly say he made gestures. I went to get sisters pay about four weeks ago and when I went into the office of Mr. Frank I asked for her. He told me I couldnt see her unless I saw him first. I told him I didnt want to see him. He pulled a box from his desk. It had a lot of money in it. He looked at it significantly and then looked at me. When he looked at me, he winked. As he winked he said: How about it? I instantly told him I was a nice girl. Here the witness stopped her statement. Coroner Donehoo asked her sharply: Didnt you say anything else? Yes, I did! I told him to go to hl! and walked out of his office.' (Atlanta Georgian, May 9, 1913, Phagan Case to be Rushed to Grand Jury by Dorsey)

45. In the same article, another young girl testified to Franks pattern of improper familiarities: Nellie Wood, a young girl, testified as follows: Q: Do you know Leo Frank? A: I worked for him two days. Q: Did you observe any misconduct on his part? A: Well, his actions didnt suit me. Hed come around and put his hands on me when such conduct was entirely uncalled for. Q: Is that all he did? A: No. He asked me one day to come into his office, saying that he wanted to talk to me. He tried to close the door but I wouldnt let him. He got too familiar by getting so close to me. He also put his hands on me. Q: Where did he put his hands? He barely touched my breast. He was subtle in his approaches, and tried to pretend that he was joking. But I was too wary for such as that. Q: Did he try further familiarities? A: Yes.

46. In May, around the time of disgraced Pinkerton detective McWorths attempt to plant fake evidence which caused McWorths dismissal from the Pinkerton agency attorney Thomas Felder made his loud but mysterious appearance. Colonel Felder, as he was known, was soliciting donations to bring yet another private detective agency into the case Pinkertons great rival, the William Burns agency. Felder claimed to be representing neighbors, friends, and family members of Mary Phagan. But Mary Phagans stepfather, J.W. Coleman, was so angered by this misrepresentation that he made an affidavit denying there was any connection between him and Felder. It was widely believed that Felder and Burns were secretly retained by Frank supporters. The most logical interpretation of these events is that, having largely failed in getting the Pinkerton agency to perform corrupt acts on behalf of Frank, Franks supporters decided to covertly bring another, and hopefully more cooperative, agency into the case. Felder and his unselfish efforts were their cover. Felders representations were seen as deception by many, which led more and more people to question Franks innocence. (Atlanta Georgian, May 15, 1913, Burns Investigator Will Probe Slaying)

Colonel Thomas Felder

47. Felders efforts collapsed when A.S. Colyar, a secret agent of the police, used a dictograph to secretly record Felder offering to pay $1,000 for the original Coleman affidavit and for copies of the confidential police files on the Mary Phagan case. C.W. Tobie, the Burns detective brought into the case by Felder, was reportedly present. Colyar stated that after this meeting I left the Piedmont Hotel at 10:55 a.m. and Tobie went from thence to Felders office, as he informed me, to meet a committee of citizens, among whom were Mr. Hirsch, Mr. Myers, Mr. Greenstein and several other prominent Jews in this city. (Atlanta Georgian, May 21, 1913, T.B. Felder Repudiates Report of Activity for Frank)

48. Felder then lashed out wildly, vehemently denied working for Franks friends, and declared that he thought Frank guilty. He even made the bizarre claim, impossible for anyone to believe, that the police were shielding Frank. It was observed of Felder that when ones reputation is near zero, one might want to attach oneself to the side one wants to harm in an effort to drag them down as you fall. (Atlanta Georgian, May 21, 1913, T.B. Felder Repudiates Report of Activity for Frank)

49. Interestingly, C.W. Tobie, the Burns man, also made a statement shortly afterward when his firm initially withdrew from the case that he had come to believe in Franks guilt also: It is being insinuated by certain forces that we are striving to shield Frank. That is absurd. From what I developed in my investigation I am convinced that Frank is the guilty man. (Atlanta Constitution, May 27, 1913, Burns Agency Quits the Phagan case)

50. As his efforts crashed to Earth, Felder made this statement to an Atlanta Constitution reporter: Is it not passing strange that the city detective department, whose wages are paid by the taxpayers of this city, should hob-nob daily with the Pinkerton Detective Agency, an agency confessedly employed in this investigation to work in behalf of Leo Frank; that they would take this agency into their daily and hourly conference and repose in it their confidence, and co-operate with it in every way possible, and withhold their co-operation from W.J. Burns and his able assistants, who are engaged by the public and for the public in ferreting out this crime. But what Felder failed to mention was that the Pinkertons main agent in Atlanta, Harry Scott, had proved that he could not be corrupted by the National Pencil Companys money, so it is reasonable to conclude that the well-heeled pro-Frank forces would search elsewhere for help. The famous William Burns agency was really the only logical choice. To think that Felder and Mary Phagans neighbors were selflessly employing Burns is naive in the extreme: It means that Franks wealthy friends would just sit on their money and stick with the not at all helpful Pinkertons, who had just fired the only agent who tried to help Frank. (Atlanta Constitution, May 25, 1913, Thomas Felder Brands the Charges of Bribery Diabolical Conspiracy)

51. Colyar, the man who exposed Felder, also stated that Franks friends were spreading money around to get witnesses to leave town or make false affidavits. The Atlanta Georgian commented on Felders antics as he exited the stage: It is regarded as certain that Felder is eliminated entirely from the Phagan case. It had been believed that he really was in the employ of the Frank defense up to the time that he began to bombard the public with statements against Frank and went on record in saying he believed in the guilt of Frank. (Atlanta Georgian, May 26, 1913, Lay Bribery Effort to Franks Friends)

52. When Jim Conley finally admitted he wrote the death notes found near Mary Phagans body, Leo Franks reaction was powerful: Leo M. Frank was confronted in his cell by the startling confession of the negro sweeper, James Connally [sic]. What have you to say to this? demanded a Georgian reporter. Frank, as soon as he had gained the import of what the negro had told, jumped back in his cell and refused to say a word. His hands moved nervously and his face twitched as though he were on the verge of a breakdown, but he absolutely declined to deny the truth of the negros statement or make any sort of comment upon it. His only answer to the repeated questions that were shot at him was a negative shaking of the head, or the simple, I have nothing to say.' (Atlanta Georgian, May 26, 1913, Negro Sweeper Says He Wrote Phagan Notes)

The mysterious death notes click for high resolution

53. When Jim Conley re-enacted, step by step, the sequence of events as he experienced them on the day of the murder, including the exact positions in which the body was found and detailing his assisting Leo Frank in moving Mary Phagans body and writing the death notes, Harry Scott of the Pinkerton Detective Agency stated: There is not a doubt but that the negro is telling the truth and it would be foolish to doubt it. The negro couldnt go through the actions like he did unless he had done this just like he said, said Harry Scott. We believe that we have at last gotten to the bottom of the Phagan mystery. (Atlanta Georgian, May 29, 1913 Extra, Conley Re-enacts in Plant Part He Says He Took in Slaying)

The last section of Jim Conleys startling affidavit

Conleys story diagrammed in the Atlanta Georgian click for high resolution

54. In early June, Felders name popped up in the press again. This time he was claiming that his nemesis A.S. Colyar had in his possession an affidavit from Jim Conley confessing to the murder of Mary Phagan, and that Colyar was withholding it from the police. The police immediately sweated Conley to see if there was any truth in this, but Conley vigorously denied the entire story, and stated that he had never even met Colyar. Chief of Police Lanford said this confirmed his belief that Felder had been secretly working for Frank all along: I attribute this report to Colonel Felders work, said the chief. It merely shows again that Felder is in league with the defense of Frank; that the attorney is trying to muddy the waters of this investigation to shield Frank and throw the blame on another. This first became noticeable when Felder endeavored to secure the release of Conley. His ulterior motive, I am sure, was the protection of Frank. He had been informed that the negro had this damaging evidence against Frank, and Felder did all in his power to secure the negros release. He declared that it was a shame that the police should hold Conley, an innocent negro. He protested strenuously against it. Yet not one time did Felder attempt to secure the release of Newt Lee or Gordon Bailey on the same grounds, even though both of these negroes had been held longer than Conley. This to me is significant of Felders ulterior motive in getting Conley away from the police.' Are such underhanded shenanigans on the part of Franks team the actions of a truly innocent man? (Atlanta Georgian, June 6, 1913, Conley, Grilled by Police Again, Denies Confessing Killing)

55. Much is made by Frank partisans of Georgia Governor Slatons 1915 decision to commute Franks sentence from death by hanging to life imprisonment. But when Slaton issued his commutation order, he specifically stated that he was sustaining Franks conviction and the guilty verdict of the judge and jury: 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. He also added, of Jim Conleys testimony that Frank had admitted to killing Mary Phagan and enlisted Conleys help in moving the body: It is hard to conceive that any mans power of fabrication of minute details could reach that which Conley showed, unless it be the truth.

56. On May 8, 1913. the Coroners Inquest jury, a panel of six sworn men, voted with the Coroner seven to zero to bind Leo Frank over to the grand jury on the charge of murder after hearing the testimony of 160 witnesses.

57. On May 24, 1913, after hearing evidence from prosecutor Hugh Dorsey and his witnesses, the grand jury charged Leo M. Frank with the murder of Mary Phagan. Four Jews were on the grand jury of 21 persons. Although only twelve votes were needed, the vote was unanimous against Frank. An historian specializing in the history of anti-Semitism, Albert Lindemann, denies that prejudice against Jews was a factor and states that the jurors were persuaded by the concrete evidence that Dorsey presented. And this indictment was handed down even without hearing any of Jim Conleys testimony, which had not yet come out. (Lindemann, The Jew Accused: Three Anti-Semitic Affairs, Cambridge, 1993, p. 251)

58. On August 25, 1913, after more than 29 days of the longest and most costly trial in Southern history up to that time, and after two of Souths most talented and expensive attorneys and a veritable army of detectives and agents in their employ gave their all in defense of Leo M. Frank, and after four hours of jury deliberation, Frank was unanimously convicted of the murder of Mary Phagan by a vote of twelve to zero.

The jurors in the Leo Frank case

Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold headed Franks defense team.

59. The trial judge, Leonard Strickland Roan, had the power to set aside the guilty verdict of Leo Frank if he believed that the defendant had not received a fair trial. He did not do so, effectively making the vote 13 to zero.

60. Judge Roan also had the power to sentence Frank to the lesser sentence of life imprisonment, even though the jury had not recommended mercy. On August 26, 1913, Judge Roan affirmed the verdict of guilt, and sentenced Leo Frank to death by hanging.

Judge Leonard Strickland Roan

61. On October 31, 1913, the court rejected a request for a new trial by the Leo Frank defense team, and re-sentenced Frank to die. The sentence handed down by Judge Benjamin H Hill was set to be carried out on Franks 30th birthday, April 17, 1914.

62. Supported by a huge fundraising campaign launched by the American Jewish community, and supported by a public relations campaign carried out by innumerable newspapers and publishing companies nationwide, Leo Frank continued to mount a prodigious defense even after his conviction, employing some of the most prominent lawyers in the United States. From August 27, 1913, to April 22, 1915 they filed a long series of appeals to every possible level of the United States court system, beginning with an application to the Georgia Superior Court. That court rejected Franks appeal as groundless.

63. The next appeal by Franks dream team of world-renowned attorneys was to the Georgia Supreme Court. It was rejected.

64. A second appeal was then made by Franks lawyers to the Georgia Supreme Court, which was also rejected as groundless.

65. The next appeal by Franks phalanx of attorneys was to the United States Federal District Court, which also found Franks arguments unpersuasive and turned down the appeal, affirming that the guilty verdict of the jury should stand.

66. Next, the Frank legal team appealed to the highest court in the land, the United States Supreme Court, which rejected Franks arguments and turned down his appeal.

67. Finally, Franks army of counselors made a second appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court which was also rejected, allowing Leo Franks original guilty verdict and sentence of death for the murder by strangulation of Mary Phagan to stand. Every single level of the United States legal system after carefully and meticulously reviewing the trial testimony and evidence voted in majority decisions to reject all of Leo Franks appeals, and to preserve the unanimous verdict of guilt given to Frank by Judge Leonard Strickland Roan and by the twelve-man jury at his trial, and to affirm the fairness of the legal process which began with Franks binding over and indictment by the seven-man coroners jury and 21-man grand jury.

68. It is preposterous to claim that these men, and all these institutions, North and South the coroners jury, the grand jury, the trial jury, and the judges of the trial court, the Georgia Superior Court, the Georgia Supreme Court, the U.S. Federal District Court, and the United States Supreme Court were motivated by anti-Semitism in reaching their conclusions.

69. Even in deciding to commute Franks sentence to life imprisonment, Governor John Slaton explicitly affirmed Franks guilty verdict. He explained that only the jury was the proper judge of the meaning of the evidence and the veracity of the witnesses placed before it. He said in the commutation order itself: 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 are 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.


100 Reasons Leo Frank Is Guilty | The American Mercury

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