Slaying Charge for Conley Is Expected
The Atlanta Georgian
Friday, July 11, 1913
Speedy Indictment of Negro Is Likely Following Publication of Mincey Affidavit.
The speedy indictment of Jim Conley on the charge of murdering Mary Phagan was the strong possibility discussed in court circles Friday following the sensational turn given the strangling mystery by The Georgian’s publication Thursday of the accusation of William H. Mincey, an insurance solicitor, that he had heard the negro boast on the afternoon of the crime of killing a girl.
For nearly two months a self-confessed accessory after the fact of the murder of the little factory girl, Conley has been allowed to go without an attempt at bringing an indictment against him. The startling new evidence which indicates most strongly, if the credibility of the defense’s witness can be established, that Conley was not the accessory after the fact, but the actual principal in the crime, is expected to result in a thorough investigation by the Grand Jury of all the rumors and stories which have been in circulation of the negro’s connection with the pencil factory tragedy.
Counsel Relies on Mincey.
Attorneys for the defense have expressed themselves as satisfied that Mincey’s word is to be relied upon, and that his remarkable affidavit published in The Georgian is true in every particular.
Solicitor Dorsey Friday morning would make no comment on the new evidence.
The detectives openly declared their disbelief in the statements of Mincey. They said that he told a different story when he was at police headquarters and that he asserted after confronting the negro that Conley was not the man with whom he talked the afternoon that Mary Phagan was murdered.
Chief Lanford, of the city detectives, and Harry Scott, of the Pinkertons, said that if Mincey had related to them the story told in his sensational affidavit they would have made an immediate investigation in an attempt to verify it and would have sworn out a warrant charging Conley with the murder if a basis for the story could have been found.
Denies Police Assertions.
Mincey’s statement, in so far as it provides an answer to the detectives, was that he did tell the same story to them; that he did identify Conley as the man he talked with on Saturday afternoon, and that the detectives told him they didn’t care to take his evidence.
“Conley told me Saturday afternoon that he had killed a girl, and didn’t want to kill anybody else,” Mincey swears he told the detectives.
“This man Mincey never made mention of having heard Conley say that he had killed a girl, and Mincey never even identified Conley,” is the reply of Detective Scott to this assertion.
Detective headquarters were thrown into excitement by the publication of the startling developments. Within a few minutes Scott was in conference with Chief Lanford and it was said that it had been decided to make a search for Mincey with a view of bringing him before Solicitor Dorsey for a grilling in regard to his story accusing the negro.
News Disturbs Dorsey.
Solicitor Dorsey was evidently disturbed by the new turn in the mystery, but would make no announcement of his intentions in respect to quizzing Mincey, providing Mincey can be found. The witness is said to be in Chattanooga at present teaching school. Leo Frank’s lawyers, if they know Mincey’s whereabouts, are keeping it a profound secret. They had not intended even that the contents of his affidavit should be made public. They declared, however, that he would be on hand for the trial prepared to repeat everything he said in the affidavit.
The latest rumor in connection with the Phagan mystery is that the girl’s mesh bag pocketbook which she carried to the factory on the day she met her death has been found and has been examined for finger prints. This rumor could not be confirmed at police headquarters.
Lee Hearing Saturday.
The habeas corpus proceedings in behalf of Newt Lee, night watchman at the pencil factory, will be fought out Saturday forenoon at 10 o’clock before Judge Ellis. Bernard L. Chappell, representing the negro, said that he would issue subpenas for at least 50 witnesses whose testimony he would rely upon to obtain the freedom of his client.
Among them will be Leo M. Frank and Jim Conley. The appearance of both of these men, the first accused of murder, the second held as a material witness, will be bitterly contested. Reuben R. Arnold, of counsel for Frank, has declared that no law on earth can force Frank to appear as a witness at the hearing.