027 - PTB discusses Lizzie Borden, old timey murders, and mother goose
Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
Lizze Borden was born on July 19th, 1860 in Fall River, Massachusetts to Sarah Anthony and Andrew Jackson Borden. She also had an older sister, Emma. Initially Mr. Borden struggle financially but the n got his big break selling furniture and caskets. The Casket business lead him to becoming a successful property developer. His estimated value at time of death was 300,000 (equivalent to $8,370,000 in 2018).
As a young woman Borden was religious and taught Sunday school to immigrant children. She also became involved in the women's temperance movement.
Borden’s mom died and three years after her death Andrew married Abby Durfee Gray. Lizzie was indirect about her feelings for her step mom but she rarely ate dinner with the family and it seemed like there were tensions in the house. Lizzie’s dad also showered her in gifts while being very frugal with the sisters.
Their stepmother's sister received a house and the sisters were mad and demanded that they receive a rental property from their father. They bought the house they grew up in from their father for $1. A week before the murder they sold it back to their father for $5000 (139,000 in today’s money).
Lizzie also kept pigeons and one day her father killed all of her pet pigeons.
A family argument in July or 1892 prompted the sisters to take an extended vacation in New Bedford. They returned home a week before the murders and Lizzie choose to stay in a local rooming house.
One August 4 1892 the Bordens were murdered. The day before they had had an overnight guest and then Andrew went out for his morning walk.
Abby was killed first and was facing her killer. She was hit on the side of the head with a hatchet. This cut her just above the ear, causing her to turn and fall face down on the floor. The collision with the floor caused contusions on both her nose and forehead (her face was smashed). She was struck 17 times.
When Andre came back from his walk his key didn’t work and their servant had to let him in. The servant, Bridget “Maggie” Sullivan, claimed to have heard laughter that sounded like Lizzy coming from upstairs but Lizzie would later deny this.
Lizzie stated that she had then removed Andrew's boots and helped him into his slippers before he lay down on the sofa for a nap (an anomaly contradicted by the crime scene photos, which show Andrew wearing boots)
Andrew was found slumped on a couch in the downstairs sitting room, struck 10 or 11 times with a hatchet-like weapon. One of his eyeballs had been cut in two, suggesting that he had been asleep when attacked. His still-bleeding wounds suggested a very recent attack and that he was killed after his wife.
At first the police suspect a Portuguese immigrant.
Lizzie claimed that she came into the house from the barn and saw the bodies then called for their servant, quote, "Maggie, come down! Come down quick; Father's dead; somebody came in and killed him."
Lizzie told the servant to go get their family doctor but he wasn’t home so she sent Maggie further away to get a different doctor, leaving her alone.
When the police came Borden initially claimed that she heard a groan, or a scraping noise, or a distress call before she entered the house, but two hours later she told police she had heard nothing and entered the house not realizing that anything was wrong. Much of Lizzie’s story kept changing, causing her to be a prime suspect.
An office also discovered that Lizzie had tried to buy prussic acid, which it deadly, the day before the murder.
In the basement the police found two hatchets, two axes, and a hatchet-head with a broken handle
Lizzie was arrested on August 11, a week after the murders. She was confined to a small cell for nine months. Many women’s groups flocked to her side and showed up at the trial to support her.
The trial began on June 5, 1893. Alice Russell, a family friend, testified the she saw Borden burning the dress she was wearing that day. Borden claimed that it was because it was covered in paint.
The family doctor testified for Lizzie’s defense, saying that he had given her a double dose of morphine to help her sleep. The side effects could explain why her story kept changing.
The judge, district attorney, and police marshal determined that Lizzie was “probably guilty” but the police force bungled much of the investigation. They didn’t check for finger prints on the weapons nor did they check the weapons for blood.
The defense attacked the prosecutor's timeline, which allowed for 8-13 minutes between Andrew’s murder and Lizzie calling for the maid. The prosecutor claimed that was enough time for her to wash the blood off herself and her clothes, clean the weapon and hid it. The defense claimed this was ridiculous.
The testimony of the drug store clerk whom she tried to buy the poison from was excluded.
The jury deliberated for an hour nad a half before returning with a not guilty verdict.
After the trial, Lizzie returned to Fall River where she and her sister Emma purchased an impressive home on "the Hill" (the expensive part of town) and named it "Maplecroft."
Emma moved out of Maplecroft in 1905. Lizzie continued to live in Maplecroft until her death at age 67 in 1927. She was buried by the graves of her parents in Fall River's Oak Grove Cemetery.