On a hot summer day in August 1892, the quiet town of Fall River, Massachusetts was shaken by a terrible crime. Andrew and Abby Borden, a wealthy couple in their 60s, were brutally murdered in their own home. The prime suspect was their own daughter, Lizzie Borden, who was 32 years old at the time.
The investigation into the murders was thorough and intense, and the case quickly gained national attention. Lizzie was arrested and charged with the murders, and her trial became one of the most sensational and highly publicized criminal cases in American history.
Lizzie Borden was born in Fall River in 1860, the second of three children. Her father, Andrew, was a successful businessman who owned a number of properties in the town. Lizzie’s mother, Abby, was a homemaker and a devout Baptist. Lizzie and her sister, Emma, were well-educated and came from a privileged background.
The Borden family lived in a large Victorian home on Second Street, a fashionable neighborhood in Fall River. Despite their wealth, the Bordens were known to be tight-fisted and parsimonious. Andrew was rumored to be worth over $300,000 (a significant sum in those days), but he was notorious for his stinginess and for hoarding his money.
On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden called for the family’s maid, Bridget Sullivan, and told her that her father had gone out and that her stepmother was ill in her bedroom. Lizzie and Bridget spent the morning doing household chores, and at around 10:30 a.m., Lizzie went out to run some errands. When she returned home at around 11:10 a.m., she found her father’s body lying on the sofa in the sitting room. He had been killed by blows to the head with a hatchet.
Lizzie called the police and then went to the home of a neighbor, Dr. Seabury W. Bowen, to ask him to come and examine the body. Dr. Bowen arrived at the Borden home at around 11:30 a.m. and confirmed that Andrew Borden was dead. He called for the coroner and the police, and an investigation into the murder began.
The police searched the house and found no signs of forced entry or a struggle. They also found no evidence of any valuable items being stolen. The only clue they had was a hatchet that was missing from the Borden’s barn.
A few hours later, the police received a second call from the Borden home. Lizzie’s stepmother, Abby Borden, had also been murdered, this time with a hatchet that had been left in the room. She had been struck in the head several times and was found lying in a pool of blood on the floor of her bedroom.
The police now had two murders on their hands, and they began to suspect that Lizzie Borden might be involved. She was the only person who was present in the house at the time of both murders, and she had no alibi for the time of the killings.
The investigation into the murders was conducted by Fall River Chief of Police, Captain Michael A. Sullivan. He interviewed Lizzie and several other people who had been in the house on the day of the murders, including Bridget Sullivan, the maid, and Emma Borden, Lizzie’s sister.
Lizzie’s story was that she had gone out to run errands on the morning of the murders and had returned home at around 11:10 a.m. She claimed that she found her father’s body
on the sofa in the sitting room when she returned home, and that she immediately called for the police and Dr. Bowen. She said that she had no idea who could have committed the murders or why.
Despite Lizzie’s protests of innocence, the police remained suspicious of her. They searched her bedroom and found a dress with bloodstains on it, as well as a pair of men’s boots that had been cleaned and appeared to have blood on them. They also discovered a box of hatchets in the Borden’s barn, one of which was missing.
The police arrested Lizzie on August 11 and charged her with the murders of her father and stepmother. The news of the arrest spread quickly, and the case became a national sensation. The media descended on Fall River, and the trial of Lizzie Borden became one of the most highly publicized criminal cases in American history.
The trial of Lizzie Borden began on June 5, 1893, and lasted for more than a month. The prosecution presented a number of witnesses who testified that Lizzie had a strained relationship with her father and stepmother and that she had a motive for killing them. They also presented evidence that Lizzie had purchased prussic acid, a poison, shortly before the murders.
The defense, on the other hand, argued that the evidence against Lizzie was circumstantial and that there were other suspects who had a motive to kill the Bordens. They pointed out that Andrew Borden had many enemies in the town and that he had received death threats in the past. They also suggested that the maid, Bridget Sullivan, might have had a motive to kill the Bordens, as she had been involved in a dispute with them over her wages.
Despite the efforts of the defense, the jury found Lizzie Borden guilty of the murders of her father and stepmother. She was sentenced to life in prison, but was later released on bail while she appealed the conviction.
Lizzie Borden’s appeal was ultimately unsuccessful, and she was forced to serve out her life sentence. She died in 1927 at the age of 66, still maintaining her innocence in the murders of her father and stepmother.
To this day, the Lizzie Borden murder trial remains one of the most famous and mysterious criminal cases in American history. Despite the overwhelming evidence against her, many people believe that Lizzie Borden was wrongly convicted, and the case has inspired numerous books, plays, and films. The crime and the trial continue to captivate the public imagination, and the question of who killed Andrew and Abby Borden remains a mystery to this day.