Who Dunnit?

Isn’t this a wonderfully cool day? How about Monday? Wasn’t it fabulous?! 

Okay, so I know that those of you who had wanted to spend your Labor Day at the beach or doing some other summer activity were sorely disappointed but I loved it. I broke out the fall scented candles and made a dinner menu for the week full of chili, meatloaf, and other cozy foods. 

This weather is totally conducive to my research and planning for upcoming programs as well. Next week’s blog post will include a complete rundown of all of our House in Mourning events. I’m bursting at the seams to tell you all about it!

In the meantime, however, I have some other autumn appropriate news to share. I’ve been reading all about Gilded Age crimes to prepare for the upcoming Sherlock Holmes display and the “Murder Most Foul” Book Club starting in January. While doing research I came across one of  my favorite unsolved crimes that I had forgotten fit right into this era. The murder of Andrew and Abby Borden! 

Lizzie borden.jpg

Lizzie Borden

Now, I know that you’ve all probably heard the rhyme.

Lizzie Borden took an axe,                                                                                                                                                                                               and gave her mother forty whacks.                                                                                                                                                                              And when she saw what she had done,                                                                                                                                                                       she gave her father forty-one.

Well, this crime was never actually solved. There was very little evidence when Lizzie (the only suspect) came to trial. Both the defense and the prosecution grasped at straws and worked with the poor evidence collecting skills of the Fall River police. Eventually Lizzie was acquitted of all charges, but let’s look at why.

The Facts:

The house was locked from the inside when Lizzie called for the maid (who was resting in her room after cleaning the windows) that she had found Andrew murdered on the couch. Abby wasn’t found dead in her bedroom until quite a bit later 

The day before, Lizzie purchased a strong cleaning agent (prussic acid) from the druggist. This was not included in the trial.

A few days after the murder Lizzie was seen burning a dress that she claimed had been ruined when she brushed up against wet paint. 

A hatchet was found with the handle removed. The prosecution said Lizzie had removed it, because it was stained, but the defense said that a police officer said there was a handle nearby. A lot of he said she said going on here.

The Verdict:

Lizzie was acquitted of all charges. Now, it’s true that there wasn’t any fabulous evidence proving Lizzie’s guilt, but the media reports from the time show that the public was completely baffled that a woman such as Lizzie (a woman who was supposed to be gentle, moral, pious, and upstanding) could possibly commit a crime as gruesome as this. Was the jury swayed by rigid standards of gender roles?

Other Possible Scenarios:

The maid was upset about being forced to wash windows on a hot day and took it out on her employers.

Andrew’s illegitimate son committed the crime after Andrew refused him money.

Lizzie’s sister, Emma, snuck into the home after establishing a residence some 15 miles away.


A Picture of the Borden House

These, of course, are other theories created by others who have studied the crime and it’s players.  But you can see it all for yourself at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. Yes, the Borden home and murder scene has been turned into a bed and breakfast. Slightly morbid, I know. In recent times the home has even become a hot spot for paranormal investigators. Many claim to have had encounters with an angry Andrew Borden. Maybe if you go you can ask him yourself…

Well, that’s all for this week’s edition of CSI: Past, where the perps are history, (imagine me putting on my sunglasses in true David Caruso style). 



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