LIZZIE BORDEN BED & BREAKFAST       WARNING: Some photographs and descriptions on this page may not be suitable for children FALL RIVER, MA. "Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done She gave her father forty-one."                                                -   Anonymous   submitted by Ken DeCosta HISTORY        On August 4, 1892, the 32-year-old spinster daughter of Andrew and Abby Borden - Lizbeth, or "Lizzy" - was tending to her chores around and about the family home at 92 Second St. in Fall River, MA.  Industry in Fall River at that time was centered around the burgeoning New England textile industry and 70-year-old Andrew Jackson Borden was an affluent businessman who owned several prosperous commercial properties, served as President of the Union Savings Bank and appeared on the boards of a number of local corporations. Lizzie's mother, Sarah Borden, had died when Lizzie was two years old in 1862 and Andrew would eventually re-marry to 38-year-old Abby Durfee Gray three years later in 1865. Andrew Borden              Abby Borden        Lizbeth Borden      Emma Borden          Sarah Borden        It was an especially hot day in the city of Fall River and after eating a breakfast of mutton soup, sliced mutton, pancakes, bananas, pears, cookies, and coffee, Andrew left the home to run some postal and banking errands. His brother-in-law from his marriage to Sarah, John Vinnicum Morse, was visiting during this time and had left the house to tend to some business matters. Another daughter, 41-year-old Emma, was also away visiting friends in Falmouth, MA. that day leaving Lizzie, her stepmother and their Irish-born maid of three years, 26-year-old Bridget Sullivan - who had served Andrew his breakfast - as the only people there.  John Morse                      Bridget Sullivan        The atmosphere in the Borden home in those days was far from idyllic. Andrew, while financially successful, was not particularly liberal with his spending. Because of the cost, he refused to install indoor plumbing in the house even though it was easily affordable to them. Needless to say, Andrew was very much the definition of a spendthrift. Rather than reside in a more upscale part of town befitting a man of means, he instead chose to live in a more "unfashionable" location in order to remain closer to his business interests. Lizzie and her sister Emma did not entertain male company and both led very sheltered and restrictive existences. Much of the extent of Lizzie's interaction with the outside world was limited to teaching Sunday school at nearby Central Congregational Church (below), holding the position of officer in the Christian Endeavor Society and membership in the Women's Christian Temperance Union. These were the types of activities that her strict and sanctimonious father approved of and they, in fact, brought her respect and relative acceptance in the community in lieu of her marital status. She was said to be a kind and generous woman with a particular fondness for children and animals. Her sister Emma's forays into the world were more or less limited to visiting another neighboring spinster named Alice Russell.        Perhaps the one thing that made this all somewhat tolerable was the supposed promise of their inheritances upon their father's death. Cynics might say his passing would be something of a liberating event in their lives. However, this small ray of hope was dashed when Andrew turned their inheritances over to stepmother Abby, who by all accounts was very devoted to her husband. Worse, some valuable properties were being turned over to relatives of their stepmother. In one case, the daughters became very upset that Abby was given a rental property. So vehement were their protests that the normally frugal Andrew purchased each of the daughters a house of equal value to placate them. Their Uncle John's visit that week was in fact to complete the property transfer of a summer home that was originally intended to be theirs. As a result, the girls relationship with him was also very tenuous.        Any anger and disappointment that swelled inside them eventually became more overt. There were constant fights over finances. Andrew and Abby were convinced Lizzie was stealing money and jewelry from them and at one point in June of 1891, called in the police to investigate the theft of $100, some small items and a watch and chain. There were also some local merchants who openly suspected Lizzie of shoplifting from their stores. While her father and step-mother did not actually accuse Lizzie of theft, the door connecting Andrew and Abby's room to Lizzie's was bolted shut as was that of the master bedroom and so, the house became literally divided - the upstairs front relegated to Lizzie and Emma and the rear to Andrew and Abby. Meals were taken separately and the daughters took to referring to their stepmother as "Mrs. Borden." One week before the murders, Lizzie and Emma left for trip to New Bedford. Upon their return, Lizzie chose to stay in a rooming house for four days rather than return to the family home.        So it was that on this day, August 4th, Andrew returned to the house at 10:30 am after running his errands and remained downstairs to nap on a sofa. At the same time, Abby was tending to the guest room where John was staying. Bridget Sullivan later claimed she was lying down upstairs in her third-floor bedroom. Earlier around 9 am, Bridget - feeling very ill - had gone outside to vomit. Abby showed no compassion for her maid's illness, instructing her to wash every window in the house inside and out. At the same time Bridget and Abby were having their issues, Lizzie was ironing and sewing and later visited with Bridget and then read a book.   THE BORDEN MURDERS        At 11:15 am, Bridget heard Lizzy scream to her from downstairs, "Maggie! (the name inexplicably assigned to her) Come down!". Asking what was the matter, she heard Lizzie respond, "Come down quick! Father's dead! Somebody's come in and killed him!" Rushing downstairs, she was immediately dispatched by Lizzie to get neighbor Dr. Seabury Bowen. She was not allowed by Lizzie to focus upon the horror of Andrew Borden half-lying on the sofa with his head bludgeoned beyond recognition by eleven blows with a sharp instrument, four of which had crushed his skull. Frantically running to the Bowen's house, Bridget was told Dr. Bowen was not there and left word with his wife of what had transpired. Another neighbor, Adelaide Churchill saw Bridget running toward the Bowens and called out to her. "Something awful has happened!" Bridget responded. Mrs. Churchill then went back into the house and through a window saw Lizzie on the back stairs of the house, head in hands.  She called over to Lizzie to determine what the trouble was.  "Oh, Mrs. Churchill," Lizzie cried, "please come over! Someone has killed Father!" Knowing already that Dr. Bowen was not available, Mrs. Churchill sent her handyman to fetch a doctor and to phone the police.        Alice Russell                      Dr. Seabury Bowen                     Adelaide Churchill          Upon seeing Mr. Borden's lifeless body, Adelaide asked Lizzie about her stepmother and was told that Abby had gone off to visit a sick friend. By this time Bridget, who had been sent away again to inform yet another neighbor - Alice Russell - of what had happened, had returned. Dr. Bowen would soon return home and when told by his wife Phoebe what had happened, rushed across the street. Upon viewing the crime scene, he pronounced Andrew dead, requesting a sheet to cover the body. He then asked to speak to Lizzie in private and did so for no more than a minute.        The Fall River police received the call at approximately 11:15 and Officer George Allen was dispatched to the scene, running about 400 yards from the station to the Borden house where he was met by Dr. Bowen at the front door. Upon entering and seeing Mr. Borden's body, he also found Lizzie sitting alone at the kitchen table. Allen ordered a bystander named Charles Sawyer to watch over the crime scene while he returned to the station to summon more officers. In total, seven policemen were ordered to the home. By this point, a crowd of curiosity-seekers had gathered on the lawn, all trying to catch a glimpse of the carnage that was on display inside the home. Literally hundreds of people clamored for a morbid glance of the carnage, but Charles Sawyer held his ground in the absence of law enforcement.         It should be noted that the bulk of the Fall River Police Department was away on a planned outing at Rocky Point in Warwick, R.I. the day of the murders, significantly reducing the amount of available officers. There was essentially a skeleton crew working the station that day.         After Allen left, Bridget again inquired of Mrs. Borden's whereabouts, believing as Lizzie had previously informed her, that she had been sent for by a friend who was ill. Lizzie (somewhat surprisingly) remarked, "Maggie, I am almost positive I heard her coming in. Go upstairs and see." At first frightened and unwilling to do so until joined by Mrs. Churchill, the two women's worst fears were realized when they came upon the body of Abby, lying face down on the floor upstairs in the guest room (below right). She had been slaughtered in a similar manner as her husband, receiving nineteen blows to the back of her head. Returning the to kitchen and sitting down with an audible sigh, Mrs. Churchill was asked by Alice Russell, "What, another?" "Yes", Churchill replied. "Mrs. Borden is killed too."        Prior to the discovery of Mrs. Borden's body, Dr. Bowen had briefly excused himself to wire Emma Borden, who was away visiting friends. Upon his return he was told of the grisly findings upstairs and at this point performed a cursory examination of the bodies. Mr. Borden had apparently been attacked from behind judging by the blood splatter and the location and angle of the blows he received. An eyeball had been completely cut in half and his nose severed from his face. The blows were concentrated within a small area of the head, around the eyes, nose and ears (pictured below).          Mrs. Borden's wounds (below) also were generated from behind. At this point it was safe to assume the same instrument that had taken her husband's life had been used against her. The one revealing discrepancy between the bodies was that Mr. Borden's blood was still relatively fresh while his wife's had already begun to congeal, indicating that she was killed first.          At this point, Officer Patrick Doherty & Deputy Sheriff Wixon arrived at house and were let in by Dr. Bowen. Officer Doherty questioned Lizzie who told him she had heard a "scraping noise" somewhere in the house prior to finding her father's body. Doherty then went with Bowen to view Abby's body, pulling out the bed next to where she was found to afford them a better view. He then went to a nearby undertaker's shop around the corner to phone the station and inform them of his findings. Upon his return the home was now teeming with police officers who by now had responded to the initial call. Ironically, the County Medical Examiner, William Dolan, was passing by the Borden home and noticing all the ruckus, stopped in to see what was happening there. As the details became clearer to him, he also heard talk of a possible "poisoning" from Dr. Bowen and the police. It seemed that Lizzie had told the doctor and some officers that she and Andrew had recently become very ill, suspecting it was the result from drinking milk that was kept in the house. As a result, Dr. Dolan photographed the bodies, had their stomachs removed and sent to Harvard Medical School along with a sample of milk taken from the house. No trace of poison was found. Dr. William Dolan        It was then that John Morse, who was returning for lunch at Andrew's request, arrived at the house from his visit to Weybosset St., about a mile from the Borden home. He stopped at a pear tree and picked and ate two of them. He then met Charles Sawyer at a side door and was subsequently informed by Lizzie of what had happened. He was then allowed to enter the home and view the bodies of Andrew and Abby. By 5 pm that evening, Emma returned from her visit to the family home. THE CASE AGAINST LIZZIE        As far as the aforementioned "poisoning", the day before the murder - August 3rd - Lizzie had made the walk across the street to visit Dr. Bowen making a startling and bizarre claim that she and Andrew were very ill and that she suspected someone was trying to poison them. Dr. Bowen dismissed her symptoms as nothing out of the ordinary, but still paid a visit to Andrew later on that evening. The ever-penurious Mr. Borden claimed he was not ill at all and worried more about the potential charge for a house call by the doctor. The primary cook in the house - Bridget - also had been ill that morning. (It should be noted that Andrew's thrift may have been the grounds for these bouts of illness as refrigeration in the Borden house was token at best. It was simply too "expensive" to adequately insure the unsullied quality of their food and drink.)        It was also discovered through sworn testimony that Lizzie had attempted to procure a small amount of prussic acid that morning from Smith's Drug Store, claiming it was to "kill moths in a sealskin cape" she owned. The clerk, Eli Bence could not sell the chemical without a prescription so Lizzy went home empty-handed. She claimed that while, in fact, she had been out that morning, she never visited Smith's Drug Store. This was called into question based on witness testimony that put her there between 10:00 am and 10:30 am. She later renounced her first statement and stated she had not left the house until later that night.          Another intriguing item of note was that John Morse had arrived on August 3rd with intentions of staying overnight, yet brought no luggage with him. His said his plan was to visit relatives across town the following day. Both he and Lizzie testified they did not speak to each other at this time, but Lizzie did acknowledge his presence in the house.         The final compelling event of August 3rd concerned a visit paid to Alice Russell that evening by Lizzie. Miss Russell stated that Lizzie seemed very agitated, referring vaguely to a perceived threat made toward her father regarding a rental property as well as his general discourtesy toward people. She was convinced that something dreadful was about to happen to the family. "I feel depressed. I feel as if something was hanging over me that I cannot throw off, and it comes over me at times, no matter where I am."  she told Alice. She also spoke of the family eating baker's bread the evening before and all getting sick except for Bridget, who had not eaten any. There is some speculation as to whether Lizzie was planting the seeds of her alibi, relating her true intuitive feelings or setting up Bridget to take the fall.        Because of the general appearance of the blood found on Abby, it was determined she had been killed around or about 9:30 am on August 4th, some time before Andrew was. In order to pull this off, the killer would have had to conceal themselves somewhere inside the home and wait for the opportune moment to strike as the front door was found triple-locked by police officers. After all, had the killer left the home, how could they have locked the door behind them?        At the time of the murders, Lizzie said she had not been in the house. This was simply not true. By her own admission, she had said that at 9:30 am - the time her stepmother's murder was committed -  she was inside, yet heard no peculiar noises or sounds. This seemed dubious as Abby - a robust woman -  was struck with an axe and fell to the floor, assumingly with an accompanying thud. And where was the note Abby had supposedly received that morning from her sick friend requesting a visit from her? Lizzie's response was that she might have inadvertently burned it.        Then there are conflicting reports as to Lizzie's whereabouts that morning when Mr. Borden had returned. Bridget had to undo the three locks that were on the screen door in order for him to enter. Bridget claims as she did this she heard Lizzie laughing upstairs. Lizzie claims she was in the kitchen when her father returned. Additionally, Bridget claimed after letting him in she left ever so briefly to fetch some water from the barn (below - right side of picture). This would seem to present a very small window of opportunity for the killer to strike twice while she was outside.          The afternoon of the murder, one of the officers asked Lizzie if she knew where any hatchets were stored on the property. Lizzie then asked Bridget to take the officer to where she knew of some. In fact, four were found in the basement. One actually displayed blood and hair on it, although it was later found to be that of a cow. The rest were either rusty or covered in dust. One however was discovered with a recently broken handle and covered in ashes (below) so it was subsequently taken into evidence.          Bridget had gone to her room to lie down at about 10:55 while Andrew went to the couch to take a nap. Lizzie claimed at this time she was out in the barn looking for some iron to make sinkers from. She claimed she intended to join her sister in Fairhaven and do some fishing while there. Fifteen minutes later, she said she returned to the house to find her father dead.        When questioned by Deputy Marshal John Fleet, Lizzie provided alibis for both Bridget and Uncle John, claiming Bridget was lying down and John was not present at the time. She did take umbrage with the Marshal for calling Abby her "mother" and sharply reminded him she was her stepmother.        The day after Andrew and Abby were buried, Sunday August 7th, Lizzie was observed burning a dress by neighbor Alice Russell. "If I were you," Alice said,  "I wouldn't let anybody see me do that, Lizzie."  Miss Russell was told the dress had been stained by paint and was of no further use.  THE TRIAL OF LIZZY BORDEN        This particular piece of testimony was especially damaging during the August 11th inquest and prompted Judge Blaisdell of the Second District Court to charge Lizzie with murdering her parents. On August 12th she was arraigned and sent to the women's facilities at Taunton Jail. On August 28th, Lizzie's guilt was declared by Judge Blaisdell and she was bound over to the Grand Jury. During this hearing, prosecutor Hosea Knowlton astonishingly invited defense attorney Andrew J. Jennings to present his case, for all intents and purposes conducting an actual trial before the Grand Jury. At first it appeared Lizzie's case might be dismissed, but Alice Russell's testimony regarding the burning of the dress once again proved to be the smoking gun that resulted in Lizzie being charged with three counts of murder - her father's, her stepmother's and peculiarly, in a separate count, both. Hosea Knowlton    William Moody    George D. Robinson    Melvin O. Adams  Andrew J. Jennings        The trial took place in New Bedford, MA. on June 5, 1893 and was to last 14 days. The jury consisted of twelve middle-aged farmers and tradesmen (picture below). The courthouse was filled each day with between 30 and 40 news reporters, many from Boston and New York. Pressure from supporters of Lizzie - that included religious and women's groups - resulted in Massachusetts Attorney General Arthur Pillsbury assigning the case to Fall River District Attorney Knowlton. The politically savvy Pillsbury wanted no part of any ensuing backlash should he perform his duties too well and secure a "guilty" verdict against Lizzie. Knowlton would be assisted by William Moody, District Attorney of Essex County. Knowlton proved to be something less than an aggressive prosecutor. Some would even say he was ambivalent during the proceedings. Moody proved in many ways to be the most competent of all present and in fact would go on to serve in Congress, become Secretary of the Navy, then Attorney General and eventually be named as a Justice to the Supreme Court by fellow Harvard classmate Theodore Roosevelt. The Borden Jury        The defense was comprised of Jennings, a prominent Fall River lawyer who had been Andrew Borden's attorney and became Lizzie's advisor from the time the murders occurred. His demeanor was one of calm and reserve and he was extremely well-respected amongst his peers. He would be assisted by associate counsel Melvin O. Adams, a former assistant District Attorney who had returned to private practice eight years prior and who would work tirelessly cross-examining witnesses and provide crucial legal elements which would eventually result in a "not guilty" verdict. The lead counsel was George D. Robinson, who while somewhat lacking in trial experience, was held in high regard within the legal community. He was a former Massachusetts Senator, Congressman and as Massachusetts Governor from 1883-1886 had appointed Justice Justin Dewey - who would hear the case - to Superior Court. The significance of his presence on the defense team was not lost on most knowledgeable observers.          The prosecution, led by Moody would argue that Lizzie had motive for the murders and that she had bloodlessly planned their executions. They also would cite her contradictory testimony as inconsistent with someone truly innocent of the crime. They sought to establish that Andrew Borden was in the process of changing his will (though the original could not be produced) by calling John Morse to the stand. Adding to the confusion over the will was "Uncle John" first testifying that an original will did indeed exist, and later recanting that by stating that Andrew never told him of a will. The terms of the new will, according to Morse detailed that Lizzie and Emma would receive $25,000 each and that the rest of the $500,000 estate would go to Abby, including the family farm in Swansea, MA.        It was at this point that two very crucial court rulings regarding testimony took place. These eventually would serve as important pieces in Lizzie's eventual verdict of innocence. 1. In their attempt to enter Lizzie's testimony into the record, Robinson successfully argued that it was taken from someone who had not yet been formally charged. The court eventually ruled in favor of the defense and Lizzie's testimony was indeed disallowed. 2. Eli Bence, who was the drug clerk at Smith's Drug Store where Lizzie had attempted to purchase prussic acid and whose testimony was crucial to the prosecution, was eventually called to the stand. The defense objected, citing the irrelevance of the testimony. After hearing both sides, the court again ruled against the prosecution, saying her intent to purchase prussic acid was indeed irrelevant and ultimately inadmissible.   Eli Bence        Two key points of emphasis in Lizzie's defense were witness testimony of a mysterious young man seen in the vicinity of the Borden home close to the date of the murders, and Emma's declaration that Lizzie lacked any motive in taking the lives of her father and stepmother. In fact, Emma's staunch and vigorous defense of her sister throughout the trial was a tremendous advantage to the defense's efforts.        At one point in the trail the prosecution attempted a risky maneuver meant to shock the jurors and perhaps sway their sympathies toward a guilty verdict. Andrew Borden's skull (below) was entered into evidence as a means of graphically pointing out where the blows had been struck. The defense cunningly turned this against them as it argued that surely anyone committing such a vile and horrifying act that would result in such extensive damage would be no doubt drenched in blood. Yet no one could state they at any point saw a single drop of blood on Lizzie. It was apparent the defense case rested heavily upon creating "reasonable doubt".        It was on Monday, June 19th, that defense attorney George Robinson delivered his closing arguments with Hosea Knowlton rebutting for the prosecution. Knowlton's own closing argument concluded the following day. At long last, Lizzie was asked if she wished to speak on her own behalf - and she did - uttering these words: "I am innocent. I leave it to my counsel to speak for me." Justice Dewey then gave a summation of the case to the jurors before dispatching them to convene for the final verdict. Astoundingly, his words heavily leaned toward the defense's perspective as he spoke glowingly of the defendant's character and acts of charity. He made a particular emphasis that the jurors would have to weigh that against the act she was accused of and whether they had reasonable doubt that such a person was capable of committing these acts of violence. At 3:24 p.m., the jury was sent to deliberations. At 4:32 p.m., in little over an hour they returned their verdict.        Clerk" "Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon your verdict?"        Foreman: "We have."        Clerk" "Please return the papers to the court." (which was done)        Clerk" "Lizzie Andrew Borden, hold up your right hand. Mr. Foreman, look upon the prisoner; prisoner, look upon the foreman.         "What say you, Mr. Foreman?"          Foreman: NOT GUILTY!"          The courtroom burst into applause which was quickly quelled by the court bailiffs. It was clear that the overall sentiment was that Lizzie had been persecuted by the police and the prosecutors and she was now free at last. Lizzie sat and bowed her head against the railing from where she stood and remained there silently with her thoughts.   EPILOGUE        Five weeks following the trial, Lizzie and Emma moved into a 13-room stone Victorian house at 306 French St. in Fall River. Lizzie would name the house "Maplecroft" (below). In perhaps an effort to distance herself from all that transpired and begin anew, she took to calling herself by her formal name, Lizbeth. While the sisters now lived in a more fashionable part of the city and public support seemed to fall in Lizzie's favor during the trial, proper Fall River society still did not accept Lizzie or Emma with open arms. Innocent or not, there was a certain ignominy attached to them that would accompany them the rest of their lives. This stigma wasn't helped by the fact that four years after her acquittal, Lizzie was charged with the theft of two paintings with a value of less than one hundred dollars from the Tilden-Thurber store in Fall River.