My name is Mary Phagan-Kean, and I live to tell the story that I know.
Little Mary Phagan Case History
SINCE THE “Conviction Integrity Unit” was recently established to “review” the Leo Frank Case, books have been banned, court records have been taken offline, YouTube videos on the Leo Frank case have been removed, and many original newspaper archives are “no longer available”! Why? To silence opposing views.
What is the truth about the Leo Frank Case? Truth is now called “inappropriate” or “offensive” or “objectionable” and is deemed “hate speech” in order to impose censorship. Facts, however, are not hateful!
MY NAME is Mary Phagan-Kean and I am the great-niece and namesake of “Little Mary Phagan,” the thirteen-year-old girl who was raped and murdered by B’nai B’rith leader Leo Max Frank on April 26, 1913.
Leo Frank, who admitted he was the last person to see Mary alive, was the factory manager at the National Pencil Company, which then stood where the Sam Nunn federal building stands today, and where Mary worked — and was killed.
On August 25, 1913, after a month-long trial, Leo Frank was found guilty by a jury of his peers, and on the next day, he was sentenced to hang for the murder of his young employee.
The Frank case is no “cold case.” Mary’s killer was not James Conley, the state’s star witness against Frank. The State of Georgia proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Leo Frank alone murdered Little Mary Phagan.
Where the Phagan Family Stands
The Phagan family has no objection to anyone expressing their opinions about the Frank case, but we do insist that organizations and personal campaigns not distort the truth and facts to use this case for their own political purposes. For over 100 years, each passing decade brought with it “new historical evidence” falsely claiming to exonerate Leo Frank. The Phagan family has stated since 1982 that if there were clear-cut evidence to clear Frank of this heinous crime, we would come forward and ask for exoneration. However, such historical evidence has never come to light. Rather, there are considerable data, extensive documentation, revealing archival material, and legal, court, and government records that only support and even strengthen the guilty verdict.
Facts of the Case
The fact is that Leo M. Frank was found guilty under Georgia law with facts and evidence, not with political bullying. The good people of Georgia can make up their own minds about Leo Frank’s innocence or guilt by delving into the historical records themselves.
Having researched the Frank case, including spending thousands of hours examining court records, newspaper reports, and private and public archives, I ask you to please consider the following facts:
The Crime and the Evidence
On Saturday April 26, 1913, Frank used the opportunity of a deserted factory and his power as the company boss to lure Little Mary Phagan to a back area of the factory and attempt to sexually assault her. Mary resisted and in the struggle Frank struck her and knocked her unconscious, and then strangled her to death. He left a trail of clues leading to him, so within a few days of the murder he was arrested. Evidence showed that the murder was sexually motivated, and many of Leo Frank’s own female employees testified to Frank’s history of sexual harassment. They testified that he “got too familiar,” “put his hands on” them, tried to corner them, and proposed sexual acts in exchange for money to them. These teenagers bravely took the witness stand and spoke of Leo Frank’s lewd behavior.
Sixteen-year-old Nellie Wood told the court how Frank had pushed himself against her and touched her breast. Fourteen-year-old Nellie Pettis, a witness for the defense, recounted how Frank had propositioned her for sex. Twenty girls in all gave similar testimony about Frank’s improprieties. Several male employees described how they had witnessed Frank “rub up against” young female workers “a little too much.” The testimony was so explicit that the judge had to clear the courtroom of women.
At trial Frank’s attorneys castigated the white jurors for even considering the testimony of the black witnesses: “They would rather believe the Negro’s word…. Oh, how times have changed. I hope to God I die before they change any worse than this….” Leo Frank’s lawyers argued to the jury of twelve white men that murder, rape, and robbery were “negro crimes” and thus Frank, a white man, could not have committed the murder of Mary Phagan. One defense attorney said that “the murder was the unreasoning crime of a negro,” that “It isn’t a white man’s crime.” Frank’s own racist thinking is reflected in an Atlanta Constitution front-page headline on May 31, 1913: “Mary Phagan’s Murder Was Work of a Negro, Declares Leo M. Frank.” The newspaper quoted Frank: “Here is a Negro, not alone with the shiftless and lying habits of an element of his race, that is common to the South…. No white man killed Mary Phagan. It’s a Negro’s crime, through and through. No man with common sense would even suspect I did it.”
Jim Conley’s Role
Leo Frank tried to pin his crime on two innocent black men. Leo Frank’s supporters, then and now, falsely represent an African-American man as the “real killer.” For over 100 years James “Jim” Conley has been scapegoated in nearly all the literature on the case. He was a sweeper in the factory on the day of the murder, and he was ordered by his boss Leo Frank to help move the dead body of Mary Phagan. When Conley confessed to his accessory-after-the-fact role, Frank and his supporters tried to pin Frank’s heinous crime on Conley. Frank’s supporters continue to this day to smear Conley as a devious criminal who got away with murder. However, Conley’s very detailed confession, corroborated by the physical evidence at the crime scene, was so convincing that it became central to the prosecution’s case. At trial, Leo Frank refused to be cross-examined by prosecutors, but James Conley withstood 16 hours of cross-examination, under oath.
Alonzo Mann’s Role
Alonzo Mann, the man that is supposed to have exonerated Frank in 1982, would have convicted him in 1913. I, Mary Phagan-Kean, examined in detail the dubious claims of Alonzo Mann, who came forward in 1982, after 69 years of silence, to say he saw Conley with the body of Mary Phagan. It turns out that his new statements hurt Leo Frank far more than they help him. Alonzo Mann has given many conflicting stories that are irreconcilable with the known facts. In May 1913 as a young teenager, Mann told detectives three different stories in three separate interviews and gave yet another story in his sworn testimony at trial in August. In those interviews and in his trial testimony Mann never mentioned seeing James Conley at all on the day of the murder. At age 83, in his 1982 videotaped session before the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, he gave still more conflicting versions that contradict the testimony of Leo Frank himself! My blog has the latest developments in this case.