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This Day in Georgia History

April 28, 1913

Leo Frank First Mentioned in Mary Phagan Murder Case

On day two after the discovery of her body, two more men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Mary Phagan. One was John Gantt, a former bookkeeper at the National Pencil Factory, who had openly admired Phagan. He was arrested in Marietta with a packed suitcase, waiting to board a train. The second man arrested was an unnamed black man. The Atlanta Constitution published an appeal, along with a reward of $1000, for anyone who had seen Mary Phagan after noon on April 26 to come forward. Meanwhile police had to disperse a white mob threatening to lynch Newt Lee, the night watchman who had discovered Phagan’s body and was also under suspicion. In a side note to the investigation, the superintendent of the National Pencil Factory was questioned perfunctorily in the case, then expressed his unhappiness with the investigation’s progress, so he personally brought in a Pinkerton’s detective to aid in the investigation. This was the first public mention of superintendent Leo Frank by Atlanta’s press.