June 26, 1913.
MARIETTA, Ga. (CBS46) — The infamous rape and murder of Little Mary Phagan still invites questions… and outrage. In April, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced plans to investigate old criminal convictions.
Phagan’s convicted killer Leo Frank was named.
Anything connected with the Leo Frank Mary Phagan rape and murder case seems to inflame Georgians. Bringing up this century old case makes her namesake wonder. Why now?
“They have no respect for my family. They are telling intentional mis- representations of the case,” said Mary Phagan- Kean. She knows by heart the murderous tale of her grandfather’s little sister. In 1913 the 13-year-old Little Mary Phagan’s raped and strangled body was found in the basement of the pencil factory where she worked.
Superintendent Leo Frank was convicted and sentenced to death, but a doubting Georgia governor commuted his sentence. A furious mob of Mariettans kidnapped Frank and lynched him from an oak tree.
For a century the crimes of murder and lynching with overtones of sexism, race and Anti Semitism fascinated the public. Mary Phagan Kean kept track of every failed attempt to overturn the conviction.
“They constantly say if he were tried today he would not be convicted. Okay. So that’s their rationale. Yet he had 13 appeals. Denied all the way to the Supreme Court.”
The District Attorney is advertising for a director of this new unit. Some are pushing for fresh looks at other controversial cases, but none are likely to stir the public passions quite like the century old questions still lingering about Leo Frank and Mary Phagan.
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Fresh look at old wounds: Infamous rape, murder of Little Mary Phagan By Sally Sears, June 26, 2019