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Knowledge of our past is our inheritance. What we do with that knowledge will shape our destinies...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crime Tidbit: The Infamous Case of Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden (Source)
Did you know...

About the infamous case of Lizzie Borden? 

I've done posts about plenty of famous, unsolved crimes, but the Lizzie Borden case might be the most well-known and obsessed-about case yet.

On August 4, 1892, a wealthy local business owner native to Fall River, Massachusetts named Andrew Borden and his wife Abby were both found dead in their home. Both had been bludgeoned to death about the head with a hatchet or ax-like weapon. Mrs. Borden received nineteen blows to the head, while Mr. Borden, killed while napping on his couch, only took ten or eleven. 

It was a gruesome murder scene, and only a few hours passed before the police zeroed in on Lizzie, Mr. Borden's thirty-year old daughter, as a suspect. 

Mr. Borden actually had two daughters by his previous wife, and it was rumored that they didn't get along well with their father and step mother. When Andrew married Abby, his relationship with his two daughters turned sour, and there were disputes about properties and money that he was gifting to his new wife's family. 

Body of Andrew Borden (Source)
Mr. Borden was something of a tight-wad. Though he was quite wealthy among his neighbors, his house didn't even have common modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing. He didn't want to spend the money. He had any number of enemies due to shady business dealings.

Early the morning of the murders, Mr. Borden went out for a walk. When he returned, he asked Lizzie where Abby, his wife was. She informed him that Abbey had gone out on an errand. The only other person in the house was the family maid, Bridget. Mr. Borden couldn't get the door open when he returned, and Bridget had to come open it for him. She reported hearing Lizzie laughing, though she couldn't tell where it had come from. Then Bridget went upstairs to clean the windows, after which she lay down to rest awhile. 

Trial of Lizzie Borden (Source)
While resting, she heard Lizzie call out from downstairs, "Maggie, come quick! Father's dead. Someone came in and killed him!" (Lizzie always called Bridget Maggie.) 

Not long after Mr. Borden's body was found, Abby's body was discovered, much colder than her husband's. She'd been dead at least ninety minutes, which means she was likely dead when Mr. Borden came home from his walk. (That was when Bridget heard Lizzie's unexplained laughter coming from somewhere.)

Lizzie's story changed many times over the next several weeks. She was not checked for bloodstains or anything of the sort on the day of the murder, and was later found burning a dress because it had "paint" on it. 

After a media circus and a nationally scrutinized trial, Lizzie was acquitted. She remained in her hometown for the rest of her life, most of which was spent living with her sister, despite the social ostracization they both faced. The two sisters moved away from one another at the very end of their lives, but died only days apart and were buried side by side in the family plot.

Borden Household, 1892 (Source)
The mystery of their parent's grisly murders was never solved. It's one of the most well-known and infamous unsolved cases in U.S. history. 

Plenty of theories abound, of course. From the guilt lying with Lizzie because she had a lesbian relationship with Bridget that was discovered, to her sister sneaking home without anyone knowing, and having the perfect alibi by being out of town, to any number of Mr. Borden's business enemies. In truth, no theory has any proof. It's all complete conjecture. 

Today, you can stay at the Borden house, which has been converted into a bed-and-breakfast, and attracts hundreds of tourists  every year. 

A site dedicated to the case (lizzie-borden.com) has  cult following and tons more information. 

What do you think? Did Lizzie murder her parents? Or is a more complicated, bizarre explanation needed?


  1. Replies
    1. Right? Could be just about anything, which is why it makes such great fodder for fiction! Thanks for stopping by, Beth! :D

  2. I love stuff like this-- the story changing seems to support she was lying-- about something, anyway. So intriguing.

    1. I agree, Julie! That's why I love these unsolved crime stories so much. Thanks for stopping by! :D

  3. Tbh, I've always thought she did it simply because I've never seen a more convincing theory, but that and $37.50 will get you a cup of gourmet coffee, so...

    1. LOL. Good point. I don't think I'd want to stay at that bed 'n' breakfast, though. I don't think I'd sleep. :D

  4. Saw the TV movie with Christina Ricci a few days. Plus I had the family on my Sim game :/ Kind of feel bad about that.

    1. I heard about the Christina Ricci film. Was it any good?

  5. Cases like this are always fascinating because of the number of unanswered questions.