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Lizzie "Lizbeth" Andrew Borden
Alleged Murderess: at the age of 32 she was accused of the double homicide of her father and stepmother.
On August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his second wife Abigail (Durfee) Borden were killed in their family home at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts. Although it was Mr. Borden that was the initial victim discovered, Mrs. Borden died first at approximately 9AM upon receiving 19 blows with a heavy bladed object in an upstairs bedroom. Her husband is estimated to have been killed two hours later upon receiving 11 blows with a similar weapon.
No murder weapon was officially confirmed however a "handleless hatchet" later discovered to be tainted with cow's blood spurred the conception of Lizzie Borden as an ax murderess.
The murders have never been solved and due to extensive media coverage (Lizzie's arrest and subsequent trial made world news and were followed by the media daily across the country and the world) and horrific nature of the crime, this case has gone down in history as a fascination to academians and amateur sleuths alike. Many movies, plays, and books have explored various theories as to the identity of the killer. The only person to ever be arrested and stand trial, however, was Lizzie Borden herself.
Lizzie and her sister Emma lived in the house with their stepmother, father and maid, Bridget Sullivan. While Andrew Borden was a very wealthy and successful man, he chose to keep his homestead in a less fashionable part of town to be closer to his business holdings. This fostered the idea to the “polite society” of the day that the Bordens, despite their affluence, were not quite the upper crust. With two unmarried daughters, many thought the situation some what less than idyllic; two single daughters should have a bit more to offer as far as social position to secure a good marriage. While some feel that the family situation was enough of a motive for one of the daughters to kill one or both of the parents, it was not proven to be as such at the trial. On August 6, 1892, the day that Andrew and Abby were put to rest in Fall River’s Oak Grove Cemetery, Mayor John Coughlin announced Lizzie Borden as a suspect. Following a grueling two-day inquest from August 9th to the 11th, she was arrested. Arraigned the next day, she pleaded "not guilty" and started her long stay at the Taunton Jail awaiting the seemingly endless process until her trial. During her incarceration, preliminary hearings and convening of the grand jury occurred before her indictment was official in December of 1892. Her infamous trial took place in the Bristol County Courthouse in New Bedford, Massachusetts and included testimony from such key witnesses as Bridget Sullivan, the housekeeper, Lizzie's uncle, John Vinnicum Morse (brother of Lizzie and Emma's biological mother Sarah Morse Borden), busybody neighbors such as Alice Russell, Dr. Seabury Bowen (the family doctor) and a slew of others who offered nothing more than what was to be determined as circumstantial evidence and hearsay. Lizzie Borden’s biggest gaffes during the trial would be admitting the strained but cordial relationship she held with her stepmother (to whom she exclusively referred to as "Mrs. Borden") and changing her story regarding the her whereabouts at the times of the murders. She was a nervous, scattered inconstant witness who proclaimed her innocence throughout the ordeal. The trial lasted from June 5, 1893, and the jury reached a verdict on June 20. In 15 days, she was acquitted. Upon hearing the verdict Lizzie Borden simply stated, "Please take me home, I wish to go home now." While she was found innocent by the jury, polite society condemned and shunned her. She moved to "Maplecroft", a house in the "Highlands" portion of Fall River (a more upscale section of town) with her sister Emma and despite sharing the dwelling, Lizzie and Emma never spoke again. She was noted to "take up" with theater people (considered very low class in that era) and was especially fond of actress Nance O'Neill who lived out her years as her companion.
Lizzie Borden is remembered most by the school yard rhyme which erroneously states: "Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one". From the lips of schoolchildren to the mouths of scholars, this case has lived on in history as the most fascinating, gruesome, unsolved murder in Fall River History and that of Victorian America. (bio by: R. Digati, edited for grammar and formatting by Sarah Santos)
Quote on a Lizzie Borden Forum: Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.
Lizzie Borden Murder Case Gets New Look With Discovery of Her Lawyer's Journals from http://abcnews.go.com/US/lizzie-borden-murder-case-discovery-lawyers-journals/story?id=15910141#.UIxpJWdxrSc
By OLIVIA KATRANDJIAN March 13, 2012
The notorious 19th-century trial of Lizzie Borden, a wealthy New England woman accused of killing her parents with an ax, is back in the spotlight with the discovery of her attorney's handwritten journals, providing fresh insight into the relationship with her father.
Borden was acquitted in 1892, and much of the evidence in the case ended up with Andrew Jackson Jennings, Borden's attorney. The two journals, which Jennings stored in a Victorian bathtub along with other evidence from the case, including the infamous "handless hatchet," were left to the Fall River Historical Society by Jennings' grandson, who died last year.
The society received the fragile journals about a month ago but won't be exhibited until they are properly preserved, curator Michael Martins said.
Each journal is about 100 pages. One contains a series of newspaper clippings, indexed using a lettering and number system that Jennings devised. The second contains personal notes that Jennings assembled from interviews he conducted. Some of the individuals interviewed are people mentioned in the newspaper clippings Jennings retained.
"A number of the people Jennings spoke to were people he knew intimately, on a social or business level, so many of them were perhaps more candid with him than they would have been otherwise," Martins said. "But it's also evident that there are a number of new individuals he spoke to who had previously not been connected with the case."
Martins and fellow curator Dennis A. Binette published a book last year called "Parallel Lives" that included five photographs and 40 letters and documents in Borden's hand that had not been previously published.
Borden was imprisoned in Taunton, Mass., for 10 months pending her trial, and several of the letters published in "Parallel Lives" were written from her prison cell. Borden, who was 32 at trial, has been portrayed as a cold, stoic individual who showed no emotion, but the letters show a sensitive, grieving side of her.
Borden's father, Andrew Borden, became known as an evil man who did not provide for his daughters. But Martins says the journals and letters paint Andrew Borden differently.
"You have to create villains in order to justify the murders, and Andrew Borden is portrayed as evil, but he gave his daughters a lot more than some other fathers were giving theirs," Martins said.
Jennings' notes in his journals show he interviewed people who knew the Borden family intimately and were familiar with Andrew Borden's relationship with his daughters.
"Lizzie Borden cared for her father very deeply," Martins said. "There was a tremendous outpouring of grief in the letters, and that's a new side to the story."
Because the journals are so fragile, Martins has been unable to read them in their entirety, but he said it's unlikely they include a "smoking gun" that would prove Lizzie Borden killed her father and stepmother. Instead, they provide insight into the character of Lizzie Borden, who, despite her acquittal, was deemed by the public to be a brutal ax murderess, evident in the twisted nursery rhyme:
"Lizzie Borden took an Ax, And gave her mother forty whacks, When she had seen what she had done, She gave her father forty-one."
"Most of what is known about Lizzie Borden is based on legend, innuendo and outright lies," Martins said. "Fact has been suppressed by fiction, and the fiction is much more interesting to a lot of people."
Oak Grove Cemetery Fall River, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA Plot: 174 Find A Grave Memorial# 115 Cause of death: Complications following gall bladder surgery
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