J. M. Gantt is Arrested on His Arrival in Marietta; He Visited Factory Saturday

by Archivist on April 28, 2016

J. M. Gantt is Arrested on His Arrival in Marietta; He Visited Factory Saturday

Arthur Mullinax, who seems to have established an alibi through statements of friends that he was at home on night of the murder. [Mullinax is the young man said to have been seen with Mary Phagan Saturday night by Edgar Sentell. Sentell was unwavering with his statement on what he had seen. However, Mullinax's girlfriend came forward and stated that she had been with him that evening and that Mullinax was entirely innocent. -- Ed.]

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

Atlanta Journal

Monday, April 28th, 1913

Gantt Protests His Innocence, Declaring He Knows Nothing of the Crime — Says He Went to Factory Saturday to Get Pair of Shoes Left There—His Statement is Confirmed by Superintendent Frank

DECLARES HE KNEW MARY PHAGAN BUT HAD NOT HARMED HER

It Is Not Known What Was Purpose of His Visit to Marietta Monday —His Whereabouts Sunday Not Yet Explained —Story of His Arrest and What He Says

J. M. Gantt, who was discharged three weeks ago from the position of bookkeeper at the National Pencil company, was arrested shortly before noon Monday at Marietta in connection with the murder of Mary Phagan.

He is the man for whom the police were searching during Monday morning, but whose name they refused to divulge. He was arrested by Bailiff Hicks, of Marietta, just as he stepped from a street car in which he had come from Atlanta.

Gantt protests his innocence, and says that he knows nothing whatever of the murder of Mary Phagan. He admits having gone to the factory of the National Pencil company on Saturday afternoon for shoes that he had left there, but denies that he returned to the factory or was with Mary Phagan at any time during the day.

In a brief statement which he had made at Marietta he said that he knew the murdered girl, but that they were not intimate friends. He explained that after getting the pair of shoes from the factory, he went home and remained there during the night, and that he had no knowledge of the murder until Sunday morning.

It is not known what he did on Sunday, and his visit to Marietta is unexplained. He took the street car from Atlanta, and was arrested as he arrived at Marietta by Bailiff Hicks, who had been notified that Gantt was wanted by the Atlanta police.

The above photograph shows the rear of the building occupied by the plant of the National Pencil factory where fourteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found early Sunday morning cold in death, her head battered and a piece of twine about her neck. In the upper right hand corner is shown the back door leading into the death chamber, a dismal hole reeking with the smell of damp earth that appears never to be dry. It was out of this door that the staple holding the hasp was drawn, apparently from the inside, which indicated, according to the detectives, that the assailant made his escape this way. There is a board runway from the entrance to the ground floor of the basement and it was at the extreme end of this that the body of the murdered girl was found as shown above. Strands of golden hair, sworn by Little Magnolia Kennedy, who worked in the metal room with the slain girl, to belong to her, were found entwined from a projection of the bench lathe shown on the second floor. Across the room, just at the corner of a small closet were found the spots on the floor, later determined to be blood when particles of the board were tested in alcohol by Chief of Police Beavers. Employes [sic] of the factory stated most emphatically that the spots were not there after the room had been swept out Friday afternoon.

The above photograph shows the rear of the building occupied by the plant of the National Pencil factory where fourteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found early Sunday morning cold in death, her head battered and a piece of twine about her neck. In the upper right hand corner is shown the back door leading into the death chamber, a dismal hole reeking with the smell of damp earth that appears never to be dry. It was out of this door that the staple holding the hasp was drawn, apparently from the inside, which indicated, according to the detectives, that the assailant made his escape this way. There is a board runway from the entrance to the ground floor of the basement and it was at the extreme end of this that the body of the murdered girl was found as shown above. Strands of golden hair, sworn by Little Magnolia Kennedy, who worked in the metal room with the slain girl, to belong to her, were found entwined from a projection of the bench lathe shown on the second floor. Across the room, just at the corner of a small closet were found the spots on the floor, later determined to be blood when particles of the board were tested in alcohol by Chief of Police Beavers. Employes [sic] of the factory stated most emphatically that the spots were not there after the room had been swept out Friday afternoon.

Superintendent Frank, of the National Pencil factory, corroborates Gantt’s story about the visit Saturday afternoon to the factory. He says that about 6 o’clock in the evening, Gantt came to the factory and asked permission to get an old pair of shoes that he had left there before his discharge.

PERMISSION GRANTED.

The negro night watchman, Newt Lee, asked the superintendent whether Gantt should be permitted to get the shoes, and the permission was granted. But when the superintendent had reached home about 7:30 o’clock, he grew uneasy. He telephoned to the office to know when Gantt left, and Newt Lee, the watchman, answered that the bookkeeper took his departure immediately after getting the shoes.

This is all that officials or employees of the factory know of Gantt’s movements, and the police gave little further information.

When they learned on Monday morning that Gantt had visited the pencil factory on the day of the murder and that he was an acquaintance of Mary Phagan’s they immediately set out to find him.

Two detectives, accompanied by an employee of the factory who knew Gantt, went to the Terminal station searching for him, and the hunt for the bookkeeper was carried on in other parts of the city. But until he was arrested at Marietta by Bailiff Hicks, nothing had been seen of the bookkeeper who the police believe can throw light on the murder of the fourteen-year-old girl.

Detective Hazelitt has gone to Marietta to bring Gantt to Atlanta.

Following closely upon the arrest of J. M. Gantt, discharged bookkeeper of the National Pencil company, in Marietta, Monday morning, Deputy Sheriff Hazelett, armed with a warrant charging the man with the crime, took him in charge and placed him in the Marietta jail. The warrant was sworn out in Atlanta by Detective Ozburn, of the local police force.

While Gantt is incarcerated, Hazelett is making further investigations, the nature of which he declines to divulge. He intimated, however, that still further developments might be expected. When he has completed his investigation, he will return to Atlanta with the prisoner.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, April 28th 1913, "J. M. Gantt is Arrested on His Arrival in Marietta; He Visited Factory Saturday," Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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