By Sally Sears
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) — As the Fulton County District Attorney’s office plans to re-examine the case against Leo Frank in the 1913 murder of Mary Phagan, there are doubts that the right man was convicted. But Mary’s namesake, great-niece Mary Phagan-Kean, disagrees. “Leo Frank was a sexual pervert. He raped her and murdered her,” she says.
Neat files in her home hold reminders of the many women who testified against Frank because of his inappropriate behavior toward them. “A lot of the women who testified against him. There were 20 former employees. They left,” she explains.
When CBS46 special assignment reporter Sally Sears asked why the women left, Phagan Kean said “Leo Frank did immoral and inappropriate and improper things to them,” and added Frank was accused of misconduct before Mary’s murder.
Crime Scene Investigator and founder of the Cold Case Investigative Rearch Institute Sheryl McCollum wonders about the testimony against Frank. “I think you can get one or two people to lie for you. I don’t know that you are going to get 20, to tell the same thing over and over and over,” she says.
CBS46 dug through the records of the trial at the Georgia State Archives. Among the documents are the notes that were found on Mary’s body. “The notes are bothersome for so many reasons,” says McCollum. The language is sexual in nature, where the words “play”, “lay”, and “love” connotate sexual intercourse, even rape.
Perhaps even more bothersome are notes written by the lawyer who represented Jim Conley, the star witness against Leo Frank. Those notes show the lawyer may have doubted his own client, and that he felt guilty for potentially convicting an innocent man. “Undo the wrong that I have helped to do,” the note reads.