Today, my dear, I’m in a mood for a good old western mystery. That’s why I’d like to present you one of the most curious and unsolved mysteries the Wild West had ever seen!

The case still remains unsolved, and if you ask me, it will remain this way…forever! 

Have you ever heard of Lizzie Borden?

What Was This Case About?

Well, it was about a murder that became quite famous during the Frontier Era. It was the case that make the infamous Lizzie Borden famous, but not in a good way at all. Sit tight my dear…because I’m going to present you the facts of a case and a trial that shocked so many people…and kind of inspired some other! Yes! You heard right! 

You probably already know about that case…in a way! Because dear, I’m telling you, this case has become something like a legend in the history of the American culture. And that’s not all. You will find Ms. Lizzie Borden in poems and literature, films, theaters…or even songs! 

Lizzie Borden, Who?

She was born and lived in Massachusetts, in 1869. Her mother died when she was two years old. She was younger than her other sister, Emma. After her mother’s death, her father Andrew married another woman, named Abby. Abby wasn’t exactly close to her stepdaughters and apparently the feelings were mutual. 

Anyway, Lizzie stayed unmarried and continued to live with her father and stepmother. But she was a very active member of the society and the local community! At the age of thirty-two she was teaching at the Sunday School, singing in the church choir and working occasionally at the hospital. And there’s more! She was delivering bouquets and baskets to the poor and sick people, helping anyone in need and, during the Christmas holidays, she was even preparing meals and turkeys for the orphan children.

Curious Fact number 1: None of the Borden sisters ever got married. Very unusual considering the era they lived. The Result? They stayed with their 70-year-old father and their 63-year-old stepmother…This might not have been so pleasant for the sisters.

First (Unsuccessful?) Attempt?

The Bordens’ maid named Sullivan, one day got very sick. A very serious nausea. And guess what?! Both Andrew and Abby had the same symptoms! Abby got really worried and went to see a physician. She probably described the symptoms and told him what they had eaten. The physician assumed that since three members of the house had the same symptoms it must have been food poisoning, probably from having eaten a-not-so fresh fish. But was it so?

What Happened Then?

Shortly after this incident, there was a time during the day that Lizzie was left alone in the house with Abby. Where was everyone else? Well Andrew was away organizing errands, Emma was out of town with her friends and their maid, Sullivan, was outside, cleaning the windows.

Sullivan finished the windows and Andrew came home. And then something strange happened. When he asked where his wife Abby was, Lizzie showed up and said that Abby had received a letter from a sick friend and left home in order to visit them. Then, her father didn’t go to any room, just sat on the sofa to get some rest.

The Murder?

In the middle of the night, Lizzie started screaming. So loud that awoke Sullivan up. She was screaming that her father was dead. And he truly was. On the sofa, struck by an…ax (or hatcher)!

Lizzie told Sullivan to go get a physician, or any close friends—generally to go get some help. Sullivan did that, but when she got back with help, people started asking where Abby was…

Where Was Abby?

Lizzie claimed that she heard Abby returning home. When they searched for her, they found her dead at the guest house, struck by an…ax (or hatcher) as well!

Accusations, Lizzie’s Behavior, Investigation

If this was an outsider’s work there should be a forced entry, or something like that. But their door was locked. Lizzie was accused of killing her parents, since she was the only one in the house, when both murders happened. 

But there was no actual evidence, thought, in order for Lizzie to be imprisoned. Only circumstantial evidence. For ,a witness said she was seen at the kitchen burning a dress of hers three days after the murders. Perhaps blood? Well, Lizzie claimed that she had painted something and that the dress was spoiled with paint.

According to another witness, of the local drug store, Lizzie had bought a very poisonous acid a day before the murders. Well, Lizzie claimed that she wanted it for cleaning purposes.

When she was asked where she was during the murders she said she was back at the barn, where she liked to spend her free time.

Many questions followed and Lizzie’s answers were contradicting to each other. 

Plot Twist! The Trial!

Lizzie Borden during the trial, by Benjamin West Clinedinst

This trial, sweetie, was one of the most popular in the American history. The prosecution presented shocking…evidence in front of the court. Seeing them, Lizzie fainted. Also, her testimony regarding the drug acid was canceled, because she had been prescripted with morphine. So, under this influence, she couldn’t be taken seriously.

The prosecution and the witnesses really tried very much to prove that Lizzie was guilty. They had circumstantial evidence, but it was not enough.

What Was The Verdict?

After a two-week trial, the jury and the court found Lizzie Borden not guilty! She was a very respectable member of the society and she couldn’t have done something like that.

Lizzie was free of charges. Of course, as you can imagine, her reputation was ruined. Despite not being imprisoned, she would always be thought as the woman who killed her parents, for many people.

Her Potential Motives?

Here are at least some of them that were heard after this case:

  1. The theory of money: her father was one of the wealthiest men in the city, but he was very stingy. Rumors had it that the family was living very poorly, but Mr. Borden had offered an entire house to Abby’s sister. If this was true, it might have hurt Lizzie.

    Let’s not forget that Abby didn’t get along with Andrew’s daughters.

  2. Domestic violence and abuse. With Lizzie as the victim.

  3. A moment of craziness. Well, two, if you ask me! 

What Did She Do After All These?

Well, she inherited a large amount of her father’s money, that she used to buy a house in an upper class neighborhood, gave away to charities and spend it to the theatres. She also traveled a lot. 

But lonely. After all of these, she could never have a romantic relationship, or a friend. She had become a social outcast, no matter the final verdict.

Art Inspirations

Enough of all these, though. You probably know this curious story became a legend. The lyrics of the popular western song, Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay were referring to Lizzie. To put it clearly, this song was written for Lizzie. She became the protagonist of the musical New Faces of 1952.

In 1956, Lizzie’s story was an episode of the series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Among others, in 1975 Lizzie’s story became a film. Elizabeth Montgomery had the role of Lizzie Borden and the title of the film was The Legend of Lizzie Borden. 

Christinna Ricci as Lizzie Borden, in Lizzie Borden Chronicles, image source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4145760/mediaviewer/rm2743866880

Want more recent artworks? In 2014 the film Lizzie Borden Took an Ax is produced. Later, in 2015 a series as the sequel of the film followed. Its title? The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, with Christina Ricci in the role of Lizzie.

That Was It

This was the curious case of Lizzie Borden. Hope you find this…curious topic rather article interesting! Thank you for being here with me, my dear!

After all, we always have romance and love to warm our western hearts!

I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts about this unusual case! You can leave a comment below, or send me an email!

You have my love!

 

Written by Cassidy Hanton

46 COMMENTS

  1. As we now know today, it is possible she could have had a double personality, and the second half of her personality was the killer. She would then have to be provoked to bring this personality out, so as to talk to her. As she was tried as her “normal” self, a pillar of the community, that is why she got off, no one
    suspected a second personality. In today’s society, she would be guilty as hell, and put in jail for life.

  2. Lots of questions left to be unanswered forever I spose. Terrible unsolved case that is very, very interesting and leaves you at the edge with a head swimming with what, when, where, how ,and why. Ugh!!!

  3. I had heard all the stories of Lizzie Borden, and after what you said, I do not believe she would do such a thing with an axe. Not after hearing what sort of girl she was. I believe she was there so she was blamed.

  4. I have always found the stories about Lizzie Borden very interesting.I find this article very well written and factual information.Thank you for the good books.I don’t get to read all of your books as there are so many good books and so little time..

  5. I have heard of Lizzie and it is a mystery that she was blamed what about the sister it seems she should have been suspect also

    • Thank you for your comment Gwen! 🙂 As far as we know, her sister was away when the murders happened. But we’ll never know for sure what happened!

  6. Definitely dark shadows in the background in the relationships of that family. I’m curious to know the reaction and what happened to her sister…

  7. It sure seems like she could of done it, but only two really know, Lizzie & God. She had such a giving heart in helping the poor. Wonder if she suffer abuse with the stepmother & father. Great article!!!!

  8. This was very interesting, I am thinking it was some type of abuse that sent her over the edge. I think she probably did it. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  9. The more it is unprovable the more theories there will be ,and it is now unlikely that we will ever know what really happened darn it.

  10. Mighty unusual case & certainly ‘looks’ like Lizzie may have done them both in. The 21st century Jury may find her not guilty because of lack of evidence, forensic or otherwise but motive & opportunity certainly was conjectured.

  11. I have always found the story of Lizzy Borden fascinating. I have often thought how interesting it would be to meet Lizzy and be lucky enough to have her confidence and learn the truth. When I look at the personality of her rather and Stepmother, as reported I believe she did it. History says she never spoke of it.

  12. Good morning Cassidy,
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
    Thank you for the informative article. I knew a little bit about Lizzy but did not know that she was found not guilty. I suspect some kind of abuse took place in her house.I
    I appreciate you taking the time to send this article. I always enjoy learning something new.
    Have a great day.
    R,
    Sandra

  13. Wow I wonder why she never got married in the first place and I totally think she did it I mean burning a dress cause it was ruined by paint hmm this case is so full of weird circumstances thk you for this I never heard of Lizzie probably cause I’m from the Carribean

  14. Very interesting article.Always had my suspicion concerning the trial and verdict.
    Would I have come to the same conclusion? not sure. Saw a ghost program a while back investigating the house. Interesting conclusions.I guess will never know. Thank you.keep these articles coming.

  15. I loved one town over from the town this happened in, Fall River, Massacusetts. To this day the house that the murders harmed in is still standing and a B&B. Anyone care to sleep in the room that Lizzie Borden’s step-mother died in? Also the ax head that everyone thought she used is in the Historical Museum in Fall River! My oldest son actually say on the stool from the barn that Lizzie states she was sitting on the day of the murders.

  16. I saw Elizabeth Montgomery’s movie, she was awesome as Lizzie. The way they portrayed the story Abby, the stepmother, was very course with Lizzie and her sister. The father all but ignored them as well and let the behavior continue. Lizzie often spoke about her father behind his back One line Andrew spoke of how odd Lizzie was, cold one minute yet loving daughter the next. I haven’t seen the other “stories” though.
    Thanks for the article. I enjoyed reading it

  17. Another theory is that is was not just physical abuse but also sexual abuse. Also I read somewhere(can’t remember where) that Lizzie took her clothes off, committed the murder of Abby, then washed the blood off herself and redressed. Then repeated with her father Andrew.

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