40 years of faulty wiring

Lizzie Borden was Guilty…with Good Reason(s)

Lizzie Borden took an axe
gave her mother 40 whacks
when she saw what she had done
she gave her father 41

There are three things wrong with that pretty children’s nursery rhyme:  Lizzie Borden didn’t kill her mother.  Her beloved mother had been dead since Lizzie was a child. Lizzie killed her stepmother. Watch Lizzie Borden the true story and murder house

Lizzie gave no one 40 and 41 whacks.  She was an axe murderer, she wasn’t Superman. You know how exhausting that would be?  The total number of whacks for her stepmother was 18. Her father was blessed with approximately 14 whacks. Naturally this makes sense for 2 reasons:

  1. It doesn’t take 40 swings of a hatchet to kill someone so why waste time and risk getting caught? A dead parent ain’t getting any deader.
  2. Lizzie was laced up in the extremely binding Victorian corset of the day. It must have been a challenge to swing the axe 33 times, never mind 81.

And finally the delightful nursery rhyme accuses Lizzie of murder when in fact she was acquitted. Watch American Justice: Lizzie Borden

August 4, 1892 was the last morning of Abby and Andrew Bordens’ lives. At 10:30 a.m. Lizzie ran screaming upstairs to the maid, Bridget Sullivan, saying that her father had been murdered. Sullivan found Abby upstairs hacked to bits on her bedroom floor. Only Lizzie was charged with her parents’ murders even though the maid had been in the house the whole time. It was also entirely possible that an unseen visitor could have entered and exited the house unnoticed since it was divided into two completely different households – the front was occupied by the two girls, Lizzie and her sister Emma, and the back by the parents. Seldom did the house’s occupants meet and even more seldom did they enjoy dinner together. Watch Arnold Brown’s Theory of the Lizzie Borden case

Although Andrew Borden was very wealthy, he was so tight-fisted that there was no running water or electricity inside the house and the family used excrement buckets to dump their personal waste into the backyard. The family lived on 2nd street, a much poorer part of town than “The Hill”, where the affluent resided. The girls were both spinsters by the time Andrew Borden died since he refused to allow young suitors to court his daughters and kept them all to himself. Ugh. The girls had no marketable skills and no marriage prospects, and thus their future was anything but bright. Andrew Borden didn’t lose sleep over any of that. To say this was a strange, unpleasant household is to make a remarkable understatement. Watch Lizzie Borden Ed McBain’s Theory

We all know that Lizzie was acquitted of the crime and free to spend what was now her half of her late father’s money in any manner she liked which she promptly did. She sold the hateful, old house with its torturous memories and moved onto “The Hill“, the richest neighbourhood in Fall River, Massachusettes. She employed servants, took a lesbian lover, visited the theatre and frequently entertained her guests, most of whom were actors, at her luxurious home. However she was ostracized by the rest of the Falls River community for her parents’ murder for the remainder of her life and ultimately died alone in her prized, fancy house without a friend in sight. Even her sister Emma broke off all contact with Lizzie during the last several years of her life. Such a shame. The Lesbian Bride Murders 1963 true crime case.

Here are the reasons why I believe Lizzie committed the crime:

  1. Her father was incestuous. The house was divided into two sections so that Andrew Borden had hidden and easy access to his daughters without his second wife knowing of his whereabouts.
  2. Lizzie’s affection for her father was a self-defence mechanism. Not unlike the Stockholm Syndrome, many incest victims convince themselves they are close to the incestuous parent and that the relationship is “consensual.”
  3. The Borden home was literally a house divided. The physical barriers in the house reflected the dysfunctional familial relationships. The citizens of Fall River considered the Borden household to be a house filled with hatred. Watch American Justice: Lizzie Borden
  4. Andrew Borden was cheap and miserly. The house was woefully out of date so the family lived in discomfort. That was unfortunate considering Lizzie’s desire to live on “The Hill.”

    Lizzie displayed a possible personality disorder.  In spite of her wealth Lizzie was known to thieve (kleptomania). When the Borden home was burgled one afternoon, Andrew didn’t openly accuse his daughter but he suspected a household member. Girl murders parents after 1961 graduation.

  5. Lizzie’s father refused to divide his assets fairly among his immediate family. In fact he left the bulk of his estate to his wife by the time he was murdered. He even bought a house for her relatives after Abby cajoled him into it.
  6. Andrew denied his girls the right to get married. He limited their social lives hence the reason they were spinsters.
  7. Andrew had many enemies in Fall River. Lizzie knew it and she figured no one would shed a tear over his murder, much less suspect her of it, so what the hell? She was right about the former at least.
  8. Lizzie attempted to buy the poison prussic acid the day before the murders.
  9. Soon after the murders Lizzie was seen burning her dress.

Lizzie Borden Copycat Murders: 1974 True crime case

Did Lizzie Borden kill her folks?  Yes she did. By 32, Lizzie had no marital prospects, no job, no skills, no social life, no and no future without the bulk of her father’s money, money that was not going to her (not without a struggle anyway). She was a prisoner in her father’s house. She had a strained relationship with her stepmother whom she referred to as “Mrs. Borden“. Abby’s murder was less justifiable but utterly necessary. What was the point in finishing off Andrew Borden if Lizzie remained bereft? Lizzie Borden Theories

Times then were not like they are now. She couldn’t just run away or leave. How would she live?  How would she eat?  Unless Lizzie ended up in a workhouse or became a street prostitute there was no way she could have supported herself. Besides the drop in social status would have been almost as scandalous as the murder itself. Proper young ladies didn’t run away from home. That was slattish behaviour. Lizzie couldn’t win for losing. The Killer Spinsters: 1941 True Crime Case

In the 21st century I would dismiss her as a selfish psycho, although I would certainly point a finger at her loathsome father for his part in  causing the devious deed. In 21st century America there are too many options for a 32-year-old woman to have to remain at home with her incestuous, cheapskate father and then murder him with an axe to gain her freedom. Inheritance be damned. We have things like subsidized housing, subsidized education, social services, and women’s hostels to assist women in Lizzie’s situation without causing a social scandal. It’s all too easy to dismiss her as a demented woman who committed an unthinkable crime. Yes it is cringe-worthy but then again so was Lizzie’s life. Lizzie Borden Mini #2 Lizzie Borden’s Cellar

Had it been me in her unhappy shoes (filled with holes) during that era I can’t say I would have done much better. I’d like to think I might have figured a better way out than patricide and matricide. We all do, smug in the knowledge that we will never have to survive Lizzie Borden’s hellish life. Lizzie Borden forensics.

Meh, what the hell.

Pass me that axe would you?



January 30, 2011 - Posted by | Crime and Punishment, Human psychology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I completely agree with your thoughts. I feel that she was being inappropriately sexually assaulted, as was her sister. I think that her step mother either didn’t know about the situation or looked the other way. That’s why I feel even though it was 14 and 18 whacks, that would still take an excessive amount of force driven by adrenaline and built up anger. She didn’t just want to kill them, she wanted to take all of the anger out. Honestly, I couldn’t blame her one bit. Sadly no one reported any sexual abuse and no one truly knew the hurt and anger she felt. I also agree with you about her anger with her father’s finances and not caring for her or her sister. I think that your findings are very insightful and it’s nice to see that someone else agrees that she was actually the victim.

    Comment by Rose B. | February 10, 2011 | Reply

    • thank you very much for your supportive feedback Rose. In that day no one talked about incest especially not the victim because of course it was always “her” fault…not to mention the guilt and shame she felt over it I’m sure because of the brainwashing over the years by her father. Everyone knows that the poor little victim (this must have started when she was a little girl) is manipulated into thinking its her fault. No refuge in that era. How sad. I don’t know that she could ever have felt entirely happy or free after that even if she tried to act that way when out in public. The whole story is a tragedy.

      Comment by teacher | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  2. MAYBE MORE bizarre..let u decide this one…the Father DRESSED THAT well,etc.sittin in THAT kind of position…GRANT U a old fellow by THEN…INDICATES knew attacker…No Fear as they say nowadays…Or maybe took quickie nap right were was…maybe tired…WOULD THINK would have heard ‘movement’,etc.n woke up…Orrr HE had a HECK of a time gettin around and UP off a couch soo MAYBE semi sitting duck…ANYone ever check for laced,drugged drink,other…article assumes she had on one of those restrictive corsets…HABIT is one thing…BUT if gonna do murder,etc. THEN hey….maybe hired someone TO do said..THOU THAT assumes can count on someone not getting caught &/or “rolling over on her’ in the courthouse…MAYBE HER lesbian lover…THAT angle new to me…SOUNDS like least THAT relationship worked out….SHE found a relationship THAT way?! Hey….HER stepmom…LOOK at position on floor like that…MAYBE assumed that servant gal…which ITSELF is bizarre..cheap labor THEN…still…SOME $ going out the door…maybe getting deat..maybe didnt expect “THAT” to happen to HER…

    Comment by bob | October 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. Your article seems to be a valid theory but thas all it is,,,,, a theory.I personally believe she was brought to trial under circumstantial evidence.True she had good reason to hate her father but that doesnt make her guilty of murdering him.This case has always fascinated me and Ive watch quite documentaries on this case.Its my opinion that Lizzie Borden was a victim of circumstance,,,not a murderer.This is why she was aquitted.Innocent or not,,the murders were very tragic.

    Comment by Bill | December 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Actually Lizzie was not acquitted because she was a victim of circumstance. She was acquitted because she was a woman and in the Victorian Era it was impossible for most people to believe that a woman was capable of such a thing. She had an all-male jury of course and they were further swayed after Justice Dewey charged the jury. According to one newspaper report, had the judge “been the senior counsel for the defense, making the closing plea in behalf of the defendant, he could not have more absolutely pointed out the folly of depending upon circumstantial evidence alone.” It was, the newspaper said, a “remarkable” charge–“a plea for the innocent.” Justice Dewey told jurors they should take into account Lizzie’s exceptional Christian character, which entitled her to every inference in her favor.
      In other words, the judge had already decided the outcome for Lizzie and was very clear about his conviction to the jury. The prosecution didn’t stand a chance.

      Comment by teacher | January 12, 2012 | Reply

  4. I have always been fascinated by this
    Case. If you do a lot of research you
    Realize she got away with murder
    No doubt at all, people in those days
    Could not believe a young well bred
    Women could commit such a crime.

    Comment by Ovid Dillard | February 24, 2013 | Reply

  5. I don’t entirely disagree with all that you’ve said, and I do think Lizzie did it, but some of the above facts are inaccurate.

    Lizzie was not an axe murderer; most likely she was a hatchet murderer although the prosecution never proclaimed the hatchet as the absolute murder weapon. Upon finding her father’s body, Lizzie did not run up the stairs to Bridget, rather she called for Bridget to come down, that someone had come in and killed Father. She then sent Bridget to fetch Dr. Bowen and stayed in the house with a crazed killer possibly still inside…unless, of course, she knew she had nothing to fear.

    Lizzie first said her step-mother “Mrs. Borden” received a note asking for her to call on a sick friend; however, no sick friend was ever located nor was the note. Then, in a turnaround, Lizzie said she thought she’d heard Abby return and sent Bridget upstairs to look for her. Bridget refused to go alone so she and a neighbor went up the staircase and were able to see Abby’s body as they got to the point where they could see under the bed to the other side from the stair steps.

    Andrew Jackson Borden did not leave everything or anything to Abby. He either died without a will or it was among papers that were burned by Dr. Bowen on the day of the murder. However, Abby would’ve inherited ahead of the girls if he had died first (thus she was killed first because if she died second then the inheritance would have passed to her for a few brief minutes and then to her heirs.)

    There are lots of theories but very little period evidence that Andrew Borden was widely hated, that the girls were not permitted suitors, that the house was filled with hatred, that they hated living without modern amenities. It must be remembered that this was at the turn of the century and that “theories” albeit interesting are not necessarily the whole truth or even any of the truth. We are looking back with 21st century eyes. What is fact is the door between Lizzie’s room and the rooms in the back of the house where Abby and Andrew slept was locked from both sides and Lizzie’s bed was pushed in front of it. Because Lizzie feared him? Or because, at the end, he came to fear her?

    Because I do think Lizzie did this (the entire house was locked except for the side door Bridget was using to come and out while washing windows) I wonder exactly how she avoided the blood splatter, and what happened to the weapon? A tub filled with water and bloody “menstrual rags” was found in the basement; the male investigators gave it wide berth and posed absolutely no questions. However this could have been where she cleaned up between murders, especially if she had been naked when she committed them. (Profiler John Douglas thinks the nudity theory is highly unlikely but that the incest theory makes sense,)

    This was a very personal crime, particularly the obliteration of Andrew’s face. His killer was enraged. And mentally ill, possibly due to a lifetime of abuse or because her healthy childhood was disrupted by the death of her mother. Too much pity and spoiling can ruin a child every bit as much as abuse. Remember that Andrew paid for her European tour.

    We also know that Lizzie was a shoplifter even though her father was not so miserly that the girls did not have most of what they needed and wanted. I’ve heard people use both bipolar and borderline personality to describe Lizzie, but killing a parent without guilt leads me to wonder about psychopathy. We know now that all three of these disorders may have a genetic component.

    Like father, like daughter?

    Comment by DebbieDiablo | February 3, 2014 | Reply

    • You sound well versed on the subject. I do believe Andrew Borden was a miserly man and that he succeeded at preventing his daughters from marrying for strange reasons of his own (with Lizzie incest is the likely reason). I have never found any research that claimed Lizzie had BiPolar Disorder or any other pathology, although that is an intriguing possibility. However, I have also never known violent murder to be a symptom of BiPolar. We are also not looking back with 21st Century eyes as this case has been investigated and studied since the crime was committed in the 19th century.

      Comment by gothrules | February 6, 2014 | Reply

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