Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Haunted Crime Scenes

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe

Andrew Borden
Andrew Borden

On August 4, 1892, the bodies of Andrew Borden, 70, and Abby Borden, 65, were found in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Andrew's corpse lay on the living room couch, his face cut by 11 blows. It was his daughter, Lizzie, who found him. She was 32 and living at home. The only other person in the house was the maid, Bridget Sullivan.

Lizzie sent Bridget for the doctor, claiming that she had gone into the barn, leaving the back door unlocked. Whoever had murdered her father, she said, must have come in that way. It wasn't long before a neighbor offering to help found Lizzie's stepmother dead upstairs, also from some 18 to 20 blows with an ax.

Lizzie Borden
Lizzie Borden

The home at 92 Second Street opened in 1996 as a Bed & Breakfast. It has since changed hands, but still offers lodgings, tours, a gift shop... and then some. With help from crime scene photos, the house was made to resemble its condition on that August morning.

Lizzie, the prime suspect, went through a trial and was actually acquitted. Fall River folks like to say she got a fair trial, but crime buffs know that the most damning evidence, such as her attempt to purchase prussic acid the day before and her inconsistent statements under interrogation, was never admitted. It's common to find people who believe that Lizzie's defense attorneys outmaneuvered the prosecution and freed a killer.

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