Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Acquitted?!
Lizzie Borden
Lizzie Borden
Spinster Lizzie Borden (pictured) lived with her father, Andrew, stepmother, Abby, and adult sister, Emma, in a comfortable home in Fall River, Mass. The family was not a happy one, though; the two daughters resented the financial arrangements their father had made in favor of their stepmother and her family. The parents dined separately from the daughters, and the house was essentially divided into separate zones for the parents and the daughters. Approximately one half hour after Andrew's return to the house one morning in August 1892 after some errands, Lizzie called the family's maid, the only other person in the house besides Lizzie, Andrew and Abby, to his room, saying someone had killed him. The left side of his face and been crushed with blows from a hatchet. Abby was soon discovered dead in another room. A hatchet missing most of its handle found in the basement was presumed to be the murder weapon, and Lizzie was arrested for the murder a week later.

At trial, the prosecution foundered on its lack of physical evidence. The hatchet proved to be clean, and no bloodstained clothing could be found linking Lizzie to the crime. Although Lizzie and Emma had the strongest motive, the jury found the evidence insufficient to convict. The jury acquitted Lizzie after deliberating approximately 90 minutes.

The poem immortalizing her, therefore, does not reflect the legal findings of fact.

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