Lizzie Borden Murder Case

On Thursday, 4 August 1892. Andrew Borden and his wife were found dead in their home in the quiet, provincial mill town of Fall River, Massachusetts, USA. Some people said their daughter Lizzie had murdered them. Other believed it was someone else. Was it Lizzie? Or could it have been someone else? The story began at 8.00 am, 4 August, the day was already the hottest of the year. In the dining room of their big white house on Second Street, members of the Borden family were having breakfast. At the table sat prominent 70-year-old businessman Andrew Borden, his second wife, Abby and a brother-in-law of Andrew’s, John Morse. John was manager of one of the Borden farms. Andrew’s two daughters by his first marriage, Emma and Lizzie, were absent. Emma was visiting friends in a nearby town.

Lizzie, a rather unattractive, inhibited, unmarried woman of 32 had not yet come downstairs. Except for her hobby, fishing, and her participation in church activities, Lizzie spent a lot of time alone, often up in her room. About every four months she had what her family called ‘funny turns’. At such times she did peculiar, inexplicable things; she never remembered these incidents afterwards. Her ‘funny turns’ were attacks of epilepsy. Lizzie dislike her stepmother intensely, especially after Andrew signed some property over to his wife’s sister that his daughters felt should be theirs.

Andrew Borden was a person who enjoyed making money but hated spending it. When his daughters asked him for money he almost always turned them down. The Bordens were rich but they certainly did not live like people with money. Andrew also had the reputation in Fall River of being a very hard man in business dealings; as a result, he had many enemies. There was one other person in the house that torrid August morning: Bridget, the Irish maid. Bridget was in the kitchen preparing to go outside and wash the windows. She was quite unhappy about it. She did not feel well and resented Mrs. Borden’s order to wash the windows. Bridget was not the only one who felt ill. With the exception of Lizzie, everyone in the house had stomach trouble. They decided it was something they had eaten the night before.

The Borden's House

The time was 8.45 am John Morse left the house to visit other relatives in Fall River. Andrew also departed, heading for the financial district. Lizzie descended the stairs just as her father was going out the front door. She greeted Bridget but said nothing to her stepmother. Abby climbed the stairs to the second floor bedrooms to make their beds. Bridget went outside to wash the windows. She took the key to the kitchen door with her. Since a robbery two months before, the Bordens were extremely cautious about locking their doors. Lizzie began ironing some clothes. It was 9.30 am.

At 10.40 someone knocked at the front door. Bridget, now working inside the house, hurried to see who it was. She heard someone laugh behind her as she struggled with the key. It was Lizzie, standing in the stairs. At last the maid got the door open. The person on the other side was Andrew Borden; he had forgotten his keys. As Bridget returned to the kitchen, Lizzie came down to the sitting room and told her father, ‘Your wife has gone out. She had a note from someone who was sick.’ Andrew said that he, too, felt rather weak and decided to stretch out on the sofa and take a nap before lunch. Lizzie went back to her ironing. Bridget, who had finished washing the windows inside and out, said she still felt ill. Lizzie told her to go up to her room and rest until it was time to make lunch. As the girl climbed to her small, hot, third room, she heard the clock strike 11.00.

Ten minutes later Lizzie called out from downstairs: ‘Bridget! Come quick! Father’s dead. Somebody came in and killed him!’ The astonished maid rushed down the stairs and found Lizzie standing by the kitchen door. ‘Go across the street and get Dr Bowen,’ she said. ‘Run!’

When the doctor arrived, Lizzie explained, ‘Just as I was returning to the house from the barn I heard a loud groan. The kitchen door was wide open.’ The doctor quickly examined Andrew’s body and discovered that the man had been struck in the head eleven times with an axe. Being asleep, he never knew what hit him. Lizzie told Bridget to go to ask her friend Alice Russell to come and stay with her. Meanwhile, another neighbour, Adelaide Churchill, had seen Dr. Bowen enter the house next door and rushed over to find out what had happened. When she asked where Abby was, Lizzie replied that she did not know. Then she added, ‘But I believe I heard her come in a short while ago. ‘She turned to Bridget, ‘Go upstairs and see.’ Mrs. Churchill accompanied the Irish girl. They found Abby Borden lying face down on the guest room floor. She had been hit on the back of the head nineteen times with an axe. It was now 11.40, half an hour after Andrew Borden’s bloody, lifeless body had been discovered in the sitting room. Policemen were already surrounding the house and a crowd of curious people had gathered in the street. The news had travelled fast.

About this time John Morse returned from his visit across town. He did a very strange thing when he saw the crowd in the street: he went round to the back of the house and began eating pears from one of the trees. As soon as he was told what had happened, however, he went into the house. He explained where he had been to the police, but they were not fully convinced. For one thing, his manner was too casual. The police made a complete search of the house but found nothing suspicious. Nor did they find a note asking Mrs. Borden to go to a sick friend. Later someone reported that a stranger had been seen near the house earlier that morning; he was never seen again. Lizzie was able to account for every move she had made that morning; however, the police considered her to be their number one suspect. Lizzie’s calm cool manner under the horrible circumstances caused them to be suspicious. In addition, she kept contradicting herself.

There was another matter that caused the police to suspect Lizzie. The day before the murder she had gone to several shops trying to buy prussic acid, a deadly poison. She wanted it, she said, to kill moths in her fur coat. The shop owners refused to sell it to her. According to Lizzie, she had been in the house all morning, except when, shortly after her father’s return home, she went to the barn to get some things she needed for a fishing trip. Then, when she returned to the house, she discovered her father’s body.

Lizzie Borden was arrested on August 11, 1892, with her trial beginning ten months later in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Her stories proved to be inconsistent, and her behavior suspect. She was tried for the murders, defended by former Massachusetts Governor George D. Robinson and Andrew V. Jennings. One of the prosecutors in the trial was William H. Moody, future United States Attorney General and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. What motive did she have? She hated her stepmother, it is true, but not enough to kill her. She adored her father, so why would she kill him? For his money? She and her sister Emma would become rich the moment he died. What about Bridget, the maid, and John Morse, Andrew’s brother-in-law? Couldn’t one of them have commited the murder?

During the police investigation, a hatchet was found in the basement and was assumed to be the murder weapon. Though it was clean, most of its handle was missing and the prosecution stated that it had been broken off because it was covered with blood. However, police officer Michael Mullaly stated that he found it next to a hatchet handle. Deputy Marshall John Fleet contradicted this testimony. Later a forensics expert said there was no time for the hatchet to be cleaned after the murder. The prosecution was hampered by the fact that the Fall River police did not put credence in the new forensic technology of fingerprinting, and refused to take prints on the hatchet. No blood-soaked clothing was found as evidence by police. A few days after the murder, Borden tore apart and burned a light blue Bedford cord cotton dress in the kitchen stove, claiming she had brushed against fresh baseboard paint which had smeared on it. The trial began on 5 june 1892, and lasted ten days. At first the public and press were anti-Lizzie Borden, but little by little they came round. How could a quiet, respectable, mature woman like Lizzie commit such a horrible crime?

Despite incriminating circumstances, Lizzie Borden was acquitted by a jury after an hour and a half's deliberation. When they returned they delivered a verdict of not guilty. The courtroom suddenly became wild with cheers and applause. The fact that no murder weapon was found and no blood evidence was noted just a few minutes after the second murder pointed to reasonable doubt. Her entire original inquest testimony was barred from the trial. Also excluded was testimony regarding her attempt to purchase prussic acid. Another axe murder in the area, perpetrated by José Correira, which took place shortly before the trial, was a great stroke of luck for Borden.

Once more life in Fall River became normal. The two Borden sisters had their father’s money, bought a lovely big new house in the most fashionable section of Fall River. They lived together in this beautiful, spacious mansion for several years. Then they quarrelled and Emma moved out, leaving Lizzie all by herself in the empty house. In 1927, Lizzie passed away at the age of 67, alone and unloved.

Today visitors to Fall River almost always ask to see the old Borden house on Second Street. ‘Did Lizzie Borden really murder her parents?’ they ask. The people of Fall River simply shake their heads and say, ‘No one will ever know.’ Probably not, but on the other hand, if Lizzie did not commit the murder, who did?

(Source : Unsolved Mysteries by George P. Mc Callum and Wikipedia)
(Pics source : Pic1 taken from Pic 2 taken from )


Anonymous said...

i'm so scarred to facing if this is a real crime until now...

Anonymous said...

Scarry !!
Great story, my friend !!

Anonymous said...

(Suryaden) Unfortunately this is a real murder case.

(artofreed) Thanx bro

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