Lizzie Borden : Fall River Murderess

Lizzie Borden House, Fall River, MA, USA | Addresses – 230 2nd Street – MAP

A two family home was built in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1845.  It remained two family until Andrew Borden, Lizzie’s father, moved in.

In 1860 Lizzie was born.

3 years later her biological mother is dead, and 3 years after that Andrew Borden remarries a woman named Abby.  Together they lived in that house until an infamous Thursday in August of 1892.

 

Family strife – –
Emma and Lizzie Borden hated their stepmother Abby, referring to her as “Mrs. Borden” and avoiding her company.  They also refused to eat meals with their parents which created a serious home that was stern and lacking love.

Lizzie Borden felt neglected and rebelled.  She shoplifted at local stores, forcing Andrew to fix things with owners.  He kept young Lizzie out of jail.  Lizzie respected her father but probably didn’t love him.

Part of the reason for strife was Emma and Lizzie suspicions of their stepmother.  They thought she was only with Andrew for his money and were jealous of the lavish gifts he showered on Abby.

Andrew & Abby Die

Abby Borden - - Found dead on the second floor
Abby Borden – – Found dead on the second floor

The Borden family was very sick just days before the infamous Thursday in August of 1892.

The girl’s uncle had stayed overnight to help.  Just before 10:30am Abby was up in a guest room making the bed.  Hearing a noise, she turned to see her killer with a sharp hatchet raised in the air.

Over and over this murderer swung across her head as Abby turned and fell to the floor.  The killer swung more, driving the sharp edge into the back of her head about 19 times before she died.

Andrew returned from his morning walk and tried to unlock the door.  His key wouldn’t work.  He knocked as the maid noticed from inside the lock had been jammed.

Andrew Borden - - found dead on the couch in the parlour
Andrew Borden – – found dead on the couch in the parlour

She tried pulling open the door, but stopped when hearing a noise from behind her at the top of the stairs.  She couldn’t see who it was, but heard soft laughing, sounding like one of the girls.

She didn’t think much of it, not knowing Abby lay dead upstairs.

Andrew popped the door open and came inside as the maid went about her duties.  She went up the back stairs to clean the 3rd floor, when soon after Lizzie yelled up,

“Father’s dead…” “Someone came in and killed him”

 

The police found Andrew Borden on the couch, his legs resting on the floor.  Someone had swung a “hatchet like weapon” 11 times on his face.

 

They said he was sleeping when murdered because a closed eyelid was split perfectly in two.

Tried but not Convicted

Lizzie Borden was the only suspect.  The trail became a detailed affair, as every part was carefully examined.

The maid testified, swearing she never saw the murders.  Hearing the laughter from Lizzie was indeed creepy, but not evidence.

Lizzie told the police…

“I was in the barn when father was murdered.  Someone must have come in from the street, murdered him and ran out”

 

They asked for Lizzie’s dress from that day.  “I burned it”, she said, claiming paint spilled down the front.

Lizzie Borden, Clean hatchet head found in basement - - trial evidence
Clean hatchet head found in basement – – trial evidence

The police found a perfectly cleaned hatchet head minus its handle in the basement.  Prosecution argued Lizzie Borden removed the blood stained handle, but strangely the jury though that far-fetched.

In desperation the prosecution stooped low.  Their goal was to expose Lizzie’s lack of emotion and show how little she cared for her dead parents.

Lizzie Borden, Bashed in skull of Andrew - - used to show uncaring Lizzie... failed
Bashed in skull of Andrew – – used to show uncaring Lizzie… failed

They put out two large cases on the table, near the jury and in eyesight of Lizzie Borden.  Slowly opening it, they revealed the fully stripped and bashed-in skulls of Andrew and Abby Borden.

They thought Lizzie would be cold, but on cue she swooned and fainted for all to see.

That was it.  The jury came back with, “not guilty” and Lizzie Borden was free.  Deemed innocent by the court, but not the people.

She became legend, as shown in the famous rhyme…

“Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father 41”

 

Marker says "Lizbeth" - - grave of Lizzie Borden with family in Fall River, MA
Marker says “Lizbeth” – – grave of Lizzie Borden with family in Fall River, MA

The rhyme may have been created by an anonymous source at a local newspaper for marketing.  The number is inaccurate.  Actually Lizzie hit Abby 19 times and Andrew only 11.

She was considered a murderer.  Local residents of Fall River were upset when Lizzie and Emma inherited the Borden estate and the sisters lived there for years.

Emma moved out in 1905.  Nobody is sure why, but rumor spread saying Emma found out the truth about her sister.

Then in 1927 Lizzie Borden died of pneumonia while still living in Fall River.  She’s buried with her family, including Andrew and Abby in the local Oak Grove Cemetery.

 

A Night’s Stay

You can stay in the Lizzie Borden House. Sleep in the room where Abby was murdered. Have tea where they found Andrew Borden.

Dark tourism at its best.

The Lizzie Borden House - - Current Day
The Lizzie Borden House – – Current Day

The ghost of Abby – –
An older woman wanders the house.  Believed to be Abby Borden going about her chores.  Mostly seen in the second floor hallway by guests.

And inside that former bedroom, now guest room, where Abby was killed, sleeping visitors will feel covers tighten around them.  Then hands running along the bed covers and over their bodies.

Said to be Abby making the bed just like on that terrible Thursday morning.

The ghost of Lizzie – –
Guests in the room beside Lizzie’s bedroom will wake late at night to sounds coming through the wall.  Like a woman quietly crying.

As well, on a random night, the current owner fell asleep in the main parlour after a long day.

She woke at 3am, looked into the foyer and saw movement.  A shadow, pressed against the wall and stretched upwards on the stairs.  She was frozen, quiet as the shadow moved, as if cast by a someone slowly climbing the stairs.

It’s believed to be Lizzie Borden, her residual energy remains from that tragic Thursday when she climbed the stairs before meeting up with her stepmother one final time.

Read about other infamous ghosts : Real DraculaLizzie Borden | Ambrose Small | Edgar Allan Poe | Marie Laveau