Fall River, Massachusetts – On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden, the father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden, were brutally murdered. Lizzie Borden was later tried and ostracized for the murders. The weapon used was believed to be a hatchet. The case has remained a mystery for 131 years despite being sensationalized in film, television, and song. Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the double homicides 10 months after they were committed.

“I think people love true-crime stories,” said Jack Sheridan, a tour guide at The Historic Lizzie Borden House, which now operates as a bed and breakfast. “This particular case got national attention in 1892 due to the ferocity of the attack, honestly, because Andrew Borden was a wealthy man. And when people with extraordinary wealth get murdered in America, the public takes interest — it always has. And that’s exactly what happened here.”

The incident occurred in Fall River, Massachusetts, on Second Street between 9 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. Lizzie Borden’s mother had passed away when she was a child, and her father later remarried to a woman named Abby Borden.

Lizzie Borden had an older sister, Emma Borden, who was reportedly not at the house during the time of the murders. The only people present were Lizzie Borden and the family’s maid, Bridget Sullivan.

Abby Borden was attacked with an ax-like weapon while making a bed in a room where Lizzie Borden’s uncle, John Morse, was staying. Andrew Borden was then murdered on the couch after returning home from errands. The exact number of blows inflicted is uncertain but estimated to be between 10 to 20 times.

Sullivan testified during the trial that she came inside the house after washing windows outside and struggled to open the door for Andrew Borden. She claimed to have heard Lizzie Borden laughing from the top of the stairs.

According to Jack Sheridan, the police response to the crime was inadequate because a significant portion of the department had the day off for their annual picnic. Andrew Borden’s unexpected early return home may have inadvertently led to his own death.

Some facts in the case suggest Lizzie Borden’s guilt, such as her strained relationship with her stepmother and her attempt to purchase poison the day before the murders. Witnesses also saw her burning a blue dress in a kitchen fire shortly after the incidents.

Lizzie Borden was arrested for the murders on August 11, 1892, and went on trial in June 1893. She was acquitted of the charges, but the question of her guilt remains unresolved.

Despite circumstantial evidence, Jack Sheridan points out that in the 19th century, women were regularly oppressed and unable to exercise certain rights. This societal context may have influenced the outcome of the trial.

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