Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another Year Has Come and Gone


Well, today is August the 4th -- the anniversary of the Lizzie Borden murders. And, still, after one-hundred-twenty-one years, no one has been convicted of the murders. In fact, aside from Lizzie Borden, no one has ever been arrested and charged with the murders. And, she was acquitted.

Was she guilty? Was she framed? Or, was she merely in the wrong place, at the wrong time? We may never know. Although, there have been some tantalizing suggestions that the descendants of Miss Borden's attorney have found files regarding the case; and they may (or may not) release them in the future.

The facts of the case still remain.

On the morning of August 4th, 1892 the quiet, residential neighborhood -- only a few hundred yards from busy, commercial streets and the police station -- was shattered when the cry of murder went up. The police focused quickly on the only other two people at home at the time: Andrew Borden's youngest daughter, Lizzie; and the maid, Bridget Sullivan.

The police (as so many others, after them, have) contended that since they were the only two surviving people within the house and yard -- and because of the house's rather peculiar layout, and close proximity to the street -- that it had to be (in today's' vernacular) an inside job. But, was it?

Throughout the years, authors and armchair detectives have put forward numerous theories:

That Lizzie suffered from a rare form of epilepsy that causes periods of 'brownouts', when the person might do things they've been thinking about, or dreaming -- things they would never consider doing when completely conscious. Which could explain Abby's death, but not Andrew's -- since Lizzie was certainly completely in control when he arrived home.

That Lizzie and Bridget were involved in a lesbian relationship, and were caught in a compromising position by Abby, Lizzie's stepmother, causing the two of them to kill Abby. And then they had no choice but kill Andrew. Okay, except that Bridget was outside washing windows when Abby was murdered. Andrew was seen arriving home about 10:40, and was dead by 11:00. And both women were completely free of blood, or even evidence they'd washed.

One story insists that the murders were committed by Lizzie's ill-legitimate half-brother, William. And, that while she didn't expect him to murder anyone, she did help arrange for him to meet with his father about securing some sort of inheritance. Again,
I could see this…until they keep talking. This person says that the father and son argued, that William (who apparently always carried a hatchet with him in a bag AND spoke to it) killed his father, and when Abby heard them, he chased her upstairs -- cornering and killing her in the guest bedroom.
The trouble with this theory is that EVERYONE who saw the bodies stated that the blood around Abby's body was thick, dark and had begun to separate; while Andrew's blood was bright red and still dripping. Even without the report of the couple's stomach contents -- which completely supported the fact that Abby had been murdered an hour to an hour and a half BEFORE Andrew -- it makes no sense. It might have been the very dawn of forensics, but you still can't argue with science.

Although Lizzie was imprisoned for nearly a year, tried and acquitted, she suffered for the rest of her life. She was elated at the end of the trial, only to learn that there was a great difference between being found not guilty and innocent.

So why was she acquitted? Was it because the jury (all men) didn't believe she did it -- because she was a God-fearing woman? Or, could it have been that these twelve Victorian men just couldn't wrap their heads around the idea of a mere woman carrying out -- with or without help -- such a brutal murder?

What do you think?


  1. I think you raise some really interesting points, which makes this mystery so captivating over a hundred years after it took place. You make it all the more intriguing.

  2. WOW, you do bring up some grat ideas here. I think it is one of the reasons so many people have stayed interested in this story. I so enjoyed your book on the sisters and wonder if maybe you just didn't find the right answers.

  3. Paisley! Of course I did...I think! ;-)