Daniel Haswell

African-American janitor who works at the National Pencil Factory. A convicted felon, an opportunist and a shrewd manipulator. He is also a pompous showman and the star witness for the prosecution at the trial. He is believed by many historians to be the real murderer.

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SONGS

“Trial Part VII: That’s What He Said” – with Townspeople PLAY
“Blues: Feel the Rain Fall” – with Chain Gang PLAY

Please note: I will be adding Jim Conley to the opening number in Act Two:

“Rumblin’ and a Rollin'” – with Angela, Riley, Minola “Minnie” McKnight and Newt Lee PLAY

 

David-St.-Louis-in-the-2009-Donmar-Warehouse-production-of-Parade-at-CTGs-Mark-Taper-Forum.-Photo-by-Craig-Schwartz.

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He was a 29-year-old black man from Vine City who had been arrested for numerous misdemeanors and had served time on the chain gang. He had a bad drinking problem and was a pretty tough character.

On May 1st 1913, the police arrested Conley after he was seen washing a dirty blue work shirt. Conley tried to hide the shirt, then said the stains were rust from the overhead pipe on which he had hung it. Detectives examined it for blood but didn’t test for it, so subsequently found none and returned it.

Conley sat in jail for a month with no charges filed against him. He wasn’t considered a suspect because he said he couldn’t write. [Two handwritten notes about the murder had been found near the body.] As it turned out, he was extremely literate; he was just passing himself off as a fool to stay out of the line of fire. When the police realized it, he said that he had been lying about the writing. He said he’d taken the notes as dictation from Frank, who had killed Phagan when she resisted his advances.

Conley gave many conflicting statements, admitted to writing the two notes and being a drunk.

White folks, I have lied

But his last affidavit was the damning one. He said that Frank told him, “he had picked up a girl back there and let her fall and that her head hit against something.” Conley said he and Frank took the body to the basement via the elevator, then returned to Frank’s office where the murder notes were dictated. Conley then hid in the wardrobe after the two had returned to the office. He said Frank gave him a hundred dollars, but took it back, saying, “Let me have that and I will make it all right with you Monday if I live and nothing happens.” Conley’s affidavit concluded, “The reason I have not told this before is I thought Mr. Frank would get out and help me out and I decided to tell the whole truth about this matter.” At trial, Conley changed his story concerning the $100. He said the money was withheld until Conley had burned Phagan’s body in the basement furnace.

Based on his testimony at the trial, Leo Frank was condemned to death.

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I see Jim in simple dungarees when we first see him …

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and then in an amzing “dude” yellow suit for the trial (ideally, with a matching yellow bowler hat) …

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Conley was given a year on the chain gang for his alleged assistance to Frank in removing Mary Phagan’s body. He then spent another twenty years in the state penitentiary for an attempted burglary in 1919. His last appearance in the press was in his 1962 obituary.

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Postscript

In 1982, an elderly gentleman came forward. Alonzo Mann said that he had seen Jim Conley dragging Mary Phagan’s body. At the time, Mann was a 13 year old office boy at the pencil factory, and he didn’t say anything at the trial because, he said, Conley told him not to tell what he had seen or Conley would kill him. Therefore, it took almost 70 years to come forward with the info.

It was this “deathbed” evidence that finally convince the State of Georgia to pardon Leo Frank.

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Alonzo-Mann-Bangor-Daily-News

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