Cook’s Sensational Affidavit

by Archivist on October 24, 2016

cooks-sensational

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 4th, 1913

Says She Heard Frank’s Wife Tell Mother Frank Had Threatened Suicide

Incoherent Statement by Employee of Frank Household That Must Not Be Taken as Legal Evidence Until Heard and Corroborated in Court.

Another sensational but strangely incoherent affidavit in the Mary Phagan mystery was made public this afternoon when the police gave out what purports to be a startling statement sworn to by Minola McKnight, negro cook in the Frank household, who was grilled for two hours at police headquarters Tuesday.

The statement quotes the McKnight woman as declaring that she overheard Mrs. Leo Frank tell her mother that Frank had talked of murder and had threatened to get a gun and shoot himself.

The Georgian informs its readers once again that police affidavits are not evidence until they have been accepted in court, and that judgment as to their reliability should be withheld until then.

Statement of Negroes in Full

The McKnight woman’s statement is given for what it is worth as follows:

STATE OF GEORGIA—County of Fulton:

Personally appeared before me, a Notary Public in and for the above State and County, Minola McKnight, who lives in the rear of 351 Pulliam Street, Atlanta, Ga., who, being duly sworn, deposes and says:

Saturday morning, April 26, 1913, Mr. Frank left home about 8 o’clock, and Albert, my husband, was there Saturday too; Albert got there I guess about a quarter after 1, and was there when Mr. Frank come for dinner, which was about half past one, but Mr. Frank did not eat any dinner and he left in about ten minutes after he got there.

Mr. Frank come back to the house at 7 o’clock that night, and Albert was there when he got there. Albert had gone home that evening but he come back, but I don’t know what time he got there, but he come sometime before Mr. Frank did, and Mr. Frank eat supper that night about 7 o’clock, and when I left about 8 o’clock I left Mr. Frank there.

Sunday morning I got there about 8 o’clock, and there was an automobile standing in front of the house, but I didn’t pay any attention to it, but I saw a man in the automobile get a bucket of water and pour into it. Miss Lucille (Mr. Frank’s wife) was downstairs, and Mr. and Mrs. Selig were upstairs. Albert was there Sunday morning, but I don’t remember what time he got there. When I called them down to breakfast about half-past 8 I found that Mr. Frank was gone. Mr. and Mrs. Selig eat breakfast and Miss Lucille didn’t eat until Mr. Frank came back and they eat breakfast together. I didn’t hear them say anything at the breakfast table, but after dinner I understood them to say that a girl and Mr. Frank were caught at the office Saturday. I don’t know who said it, but Miss Lucille and Mr. and Mrs. Selig and Mr. Frank were standing there talking after dinner. I didn’t know the girl was killed until Monday evening. I understood them to say it was a Jew girl, and I asked Miss Lucille and she said it was a Gentile.

Frank Said: “It’s Mighty Bad.”

On Tuesday Mr. Frank says to me: “It is mighty bad, Minola; I might have to go to jail about this girl and I don’t know anything about it.”

I heard Mrs. Rauzin, Mrs. Frank’s sister, tell Miss Lucille that it was mighty bad, and Miss Lucille said, “Yes, it is; I am going to get after her about it.” I don’t know what they were talking about.

Sunday Miss Lucille said to Mr. Selig that Mr. Frank didn’t sleep so good Saturday night. She said he was drunk and wouldn’t let her sleep with him, and she said she slept on the floor on the rug by the bed because he was drinking. Miss Lucille said Sunday that Mr. Frank told her Saturday night that he was in trouble; that he didn’t know the reason why he would murder, and he told his wife to get his pistol and let him kill himself. I heard Miss Lucille say to that Mrs. Selig. It got away with Mrs. Selig might bad, she didn’t know what to think. I haven’t heard Miss Lucille say whether she believed it or not. I don’t know why Mrs. Frank didn’t come to see her husband, but it was a pretty good while before she come to see him, maybe two weeks. She would tell me, “Wasn’t it mighty bad that he was locked up?” and she said: “Minola, I don’t know what I am going to do.”

When I left home to go to the Solicitor General’s office they told me to mind how I talked. They pay me $3.50 a week, but last week she paid me $4, and one week she paid me $6.50. Up to the time of the murder I was getting $3.50 a week, and the week right after the murder I don’t remember how much they paid me, and the next week they paid me $3.50, and the next week they paid me $6.50, and the next week they paid me $4, and the next week $4.

One week Mrs. Selig give me $5, but it wasn’t for my work, and they didn’t tell me what it was for.

They just said, “Here is $5, Minola,” but, of course, I understood what they meant, but they didn’t tell me anything at the time. I understood that it was a tip for me to keep quiet. They would tell me to mind how I talked, and Miss Lucille give me a hat.

Q. Is that the reason you didn’t tell the Solicitor yesterday all about this, that Miss Lucille and the others had told you not to say anything about what had happened at home there?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Is that true?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. And that is the reason why you would rather have been locked up last night than tell this?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Has Mr. Pickett or Mr. Cravens or Mr. Campbell or myself (Detective Starnes) influenced you in any way or threatened you in any way to make this statement?—A. No, sir.

Q. You make it of your own free will and accord in their presence and in the presence of Mr. Gordon, your attorney?—A. Yes, sir.

(Signed) MINOLA M’KNIGHT.

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 3d day of June, 1913.

G. C. FEBUARY.

* * *

Atlanta Georgian, June 4, 1913, “Cook’s Sensational Affidavit,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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