Lizzie Borden and Her Infamous Axe

Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was a New England spinster who allegedly killed her father and stepmother with a hatchet on August 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts, in the United States. Although Lizzie Borden was acquitted, no one else was ever arrested or tried and she has remained a notorious figure in American folklore. Dispute over the identity of the killer or killers continues to this day. The fame of the incident has endured in American pop culture and criminology. On August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden had gone into Fall River to do his usual rounds at the bank and post office. He returned home at about 10:45 a.m.; Lizzie Borden claimed that she found his body about 30 minutes later. The house servant Bridget Sullivan, discovered the body of Abby Borden in the guest bedroom located upstairs. Both Andrew and Abby Borden had been killed by crushing blows to their skulls from a hatchet. Watch American Justice Lizzie Borden

Shortly before the murders, the entire household became violently ill. As Mr. Borden was not a popular man in Fall River, Abby feared they were being intentionally poisoned. The family doctor, however, diagnosed their illness as food poisoning. Andrew Borden had purchased cheap mutton for the family to eat, and left it on the stove for days.. The family believed the milk was being tainted by someone. Both murder victims had their stomachs removed in an autopsy performed in the Borden dining room on the day of their deaths; nothing was found.  During this time, conflict increased between the daughters and their father about the valuable properties to be divided among relatives before his death. The sisters demanded and received a rental property. Watch Arnold Brown’s theory of the Lizzie Borden case 

A few days after the murder, Lizzie burned a blue dress in the kitchen stove; she was arrested and jailed on August 11, 1892. No blood-soaked clothing and no weapon was found as evidence by police, suggesting reasonable doubt. Then one incredible (and gory) development happened in Fall River that offered Lizzie’s defence team an ace in its pocket. A man named Jose Carreiro murdered a young woman named Bertha Manchester with an axe, about 5 days before Lizzie went on trial. The murders weren’t connected of course, since Lizzie was in jail when the Manchester murdered occurred. However, Carriero,the swarthy drifter seemed to suggest a more plausible explanation for the Borden hatchet murders, than Lizzie. Nice ladies from respectable homes didn’t go about with a hatchet murdering their parents. Carriero placed a seed of doubt in the jury’s mind. What were the odds of a second hatchet murder in Fall River exactly before Lizzie’s trial? Must be a million to one. Apparently, Lizzie got her one.

Lizzie was acquitted on June 20, 1893, after the jury deliberated an hour and a half. After the trial, Lizzie and Emma Borden moved to a new house that Lizzie christened Maplecroft,located in a fashionable neighborhood in Fall River. Years later, Lizzie Borden died of pneumonia on June 1, 1927 in Fall River, Massachusetts; few people attended her burial. Several theories presented over the years suggest Lizzie Borden may not have committed the murders. One theory is that the Bordens’ maid, Bridget Sullivan committed the murders. This theory suggests that Sullivan was angry with the Bordens for being asked to clean the windows, a taxing job on a hot day, and just one day after having suffered from food poisoning. This is highly unlikely. Sullivan depended upon the Bordens for her livelihood. Without Andrew and Abby she was effectively unemployed. Besides, how angry about windows can anyone be?

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