When I was thirteen I found out the truth of my family name and have been invested ever since. I am the great-niece and namesake of “Little Mary Phagan”.
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.
The Phagan family was consulted by the Board in the run-up to the 1983 pardon decision, since the surviving members of the family had a great deal of personal knowledge of and documentation about the case and would be directly and profoundly affected by any decision.
It was our Little Mary who had been strangled and very likely raped, after all. And the Board denied that pardon application. The Jewish organizations tried again in 1986, but this time the Phagan family was not consulted. They were told about the upcoming pardon decision after the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’Rith (ADL) and its well- heeled allies had been meeting with and lobbying the Board for six months or more.
Why the secrecy?
Obviously, the Jewish groups, led by ADL board member and attorney Dale Schwartz, didn’t want the victim’s family to have any say on the matter or any time to alert the public as to what was afoot.Thus, in 1986 the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a posthumous “pardon” to Leo Frank on the basis of the state’s failure to protect him while in custody. However, it did not absolve him of the crime of murdering Mary Phagan and Frank’s conviction remained intact.On the 100th Anniversary (April 26, 2013) of Mary Phagan’s rape and murder, the trial Brief of Evidence and appeals records of the Leo Frank case were digitized (www.archive.org). The voluminous Atlanta newspaper reports about the crime are now available on-line.As a young girl, my father and I spent summers going through the microfilm at Georgia State. Now these resources have been made available for data mining –
- The Murder of Mary Phagan
- Coroner’s Inquest
- Grand Jury
- Trial and Appeals