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This Day in Georgia History

April 27, 1913

Investigation into Mary Phagan Murder Began

To view an image of Mary Phagan, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

After night watchman Newt Lee discovered Mary Phagan’s body in the basement of the National Pencil Company, he called Atlanta police. Investigating the scene of the crime, police found two roughly scrawled notes, which they initially assume were written by Phagan. One of the notes indicated she was sexually assaulted, and both implicate a “long tall black negro.” Believing they were written by Phagan before she died, Atlanta police arrested Newt Lee, who was black, and Arthur Mullinax, a white ex-street car driver, on suspicion of being involved in Phagan’s murder. Mullinax, who had frequently driven Phagan to and from work, was arrested because a witness claimed to have seen the two together Saturday, with Phagan appearing to be dazed or drugged. Both men declared their innocence. For more, see the Leo Frank Case page.