Experts Are Here on Finger Prints

by Archivist on May 22, 2016

Experts Here

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

Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, May 22nd, 1913

Two Investigators Are Added to Wm. J. Burns’ Forces Already in Atlanta—P. A. Flak in City.

The William J. Burns forces in the investigation of the Mary Phagan mystery have been reinforced by two expert investigators who recently arrived in the city and are assisting Chief C. W. Tobie in his work.

Their identity is being withheld. Both began work Wednesday. One is a noted handwriting and finger print expert, and his first object was to examine the notes found beside the girl’s body and to obtain finger prints at and around the scene of discovery.

Chief Tobie visited the negro night watchman, Newt Lee, in the Tower Wednesday morning for an hours’ interview. Although he will not state positively his views, the impression is gained that he believes the negro innocent, in both the actual murder and as an accessory either before or after the crime.

Finger Print Expert Engaged.

P. A. Flak, one of New York’s most successful finger print experts, has been retained by Solicitor General Dorsey to examine prints found upon the victim’s clothing and on the notes written by her slayer. Flak was brought to Atlanta by the Georgia State Banker’ association, the convention of which recently was held in Macon.

He and the solicitor visited the pencil factory Wednesday afternoon. Later they visited the jail, where, it is said, they secured finger prints from both suspects, Frank, the plant superintendent, and the negro watchman. They spent practically the entire day together.

Headquarter’s detectives Wednesday put Gordon Bailey, the negro eleveator boy of the pencil factory, through a grueling interrogation. He has been under arrest for three weeks, but Wednesday’s questioning was the most thorough examination to which he has yet been subjected. Nothing of significance was gained from him.

Believing that the missing mesh bag which Mary Phagan carried to the factory on the day of her disappearance holds a clue more important than any yet developed, Pinkerton men and police detectives are directing much of their efforts to the search for the lost bag. Harry Scott, assistant superintendent of the Atlanta branch of Pinkertons, said Wednesday that he predicted the unearthing of convincing evidence in the finding of the article.

Where is the Bag?

There whereabouts of the bag are as mysterious as any phase of the case. Every nook and corner of the factory building has been raked as though with a fine-tooth comb. The outside premises have been scoured, and the basement sawdust has been sifted. It has been advanced that it was burned in the cellar furnace.

Detectives also have been assigned to hunt the woman who is said by Mrs. A. A. Smith to have remarked on Whitehall street several days ago that she was with Mary Phagan at 4 o’clock on the afternoon of Memorial day. So far their efforts have been fruitless. Rumors come to police headquarters every day of the girl having been seen on the afternoon of her disappearance, but close investigation invariably proves them foundless.

Tobie After New Witness.

Chief C. W. Tobie, the William J. Burns agent, leaves Atlanta soon for a nearby city to find an intimate companion of Mary Phagan’s, who was with her a short time before her disappearance on Memorial day. This man, whose identity is kept secret, left the city on the day of the murder, and his whereabouts have been a mystery until he was located by the detective.

Tobie will not reveal the city in which he has located this new figure in the tragedy. He is presumed that he is in a south Georgia town, however. Neither will he tell his object in seeking an interview with him, other than that he was with the victim shortly before her death.

It is intimated by the detective, though, that the man has valuable testimony, and that it was because of a desire to refrain from talking that he disappeared. Even his immediate family, it is said, are not aware of his location.

The south’s most famous Bertillon expert, L. J. Fletcher, who also is an authority on handwriting, has been employed by Solicitor Dorsey. Fletcher is attached to the federal prison, and is in charge of the Bertillon measurement department. He has been connected in that capacity with the government for a number of years, and has made a life study of crime and criminals.

His work was begun Wednesday, when, with Expert Flak, who also has been retained by Dorsey, he and the solicitor visited the pencil factory to procure finger-print specimens, and the Tower, to get prints of the fingers of both suspects, Frank and Lee.

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, May 22nd 1913, “Experts Are Here on Finger Prints,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Previous post:

Next post: