Strange and Abnormal: Lizzie Borden: Murderer or Misunderstood?

Ava Ferrigno, Features Editor

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On a hot, sunny day in Fall River, Massachusetts, most residents were enjoying the weather. They were having picnics and lounging outdoors while sipping glasses of ice-cold water. On the other hand, Lizzie Borden was wielding a hatchet as she hacked away at her parents. At least, that is what the community suspected; the jury had said otherwise.

More than a century later, experts are still unsure as to whether Borden had killed her stepmother and father. However, Borden’s past may contain the answer to this unsolved double murder.

Borden was born to Sarah and Andrew Borden in 1860. When Borden was only two years old, her mother had passed. Just three years later, Andrew Borden remarried to Abby Durfee Gray. Both Borden and her older sister Emma were resistant to accept Abby as their stepmother. They thought that her family wanted to steal her father’s money due to his success in manufacturing.

Additionally, the girls were unwilling to truly welcome Abby because they believed it would be a betrayal to their mother. Consequently, Borden’s relationship with Abby was very distant. Borden’s dislike for her stepmother and her loyalty to Sarah serve as practical motives and point to the fact that Borden was capable of committing the murder.

Borden must have felt angered that her father remarried so quickly, which could be a reason she butchered her own father. As a result of his swift actions, she believed that he had forgotten all about her mother and no longer loved her.

Due to her loyalty and devotion to Sarah Borden, Borden had killed her father in a mad rage and in revenge, which, in her frazzled state, seemed justified. Additionally, Borden fostered a growing grudge against her father.

Andrew Borden was a successful businessman and had enough money to live in the prestigious Hill neighborhood. However, the Borden’s lived in a downscaled home that even lacked indoor plumbing. Borden wanted to live among the elite and was furious that her father would not do so despite their wealth.

Thus, Borden killed him and inherited his family fortune. After the murders, she actually used this fortune to buy a house in the Hills, demonstrating that there were numerous benefits to come out of her parents’ deaths that she was well aware of.

Borden was considered the prime suspect for reasons other than her obvious motives. At the time of the murder, Emma Borden was away, thereby crossing her off of the list of the accused. All of the doors in the house were locked that day, therefore, the murderer needed to posses a key or already be inside, thereby only giving the family members possible access.

Investigators were able to deduce that Abby had not turned around to face her attacker from her position on the floor; this supported the theory that she had known and trusted her killer such as her own stepdaughter.

Additionally, Bridget, the Borden’s maid, stated that she had witnessed Borden laughing as her stepmother bled out and later burning a dress that Borden claimed had “paint” on it. Surprisingly, this did not hold up in court. In fact, the jury had stated that all of the evidence against Borden was circumstantial and the defense persuaded them to rule Borden’s contradictory testimony at the original inquest as inadmissible.

On June 20, 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders and lived the remainder of her life in the Hills. Abruptly, she and her sister, who were once so close, cut off all means of contact, which leads many to believe that Emma had discovered Lizzie’s true involvement in the murders and had been disgusted.

In her last years, Borden was threatened and attacked by the townsfolk. She might have been declared ‘not guilty’ by the jurors, but to the community of Fall River, she was a butcher.