Book Excerpt: ‘The Trial of Lizzie Borden,’ the Original True Crime Sensation

It might feel like we’re in the midst of an unequaled true crime boom, thanks to the ubiquity of non-fiction crime documentaries, series, podcasts, and books, but don’t be fooled; the culture has always had a perverse fascination with the evil that men do. Or women — to this day, one of the most notorious was the 1892 slaying of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Borden, a well-to-do Massachusetts couple. Their 32-year-old daughter Lizzie was charged and tried for the crime but acquitted, reportedly because the all-male jury couldn’t imagine that a woman of her background could be capable of such savagery.

» Top New Products

Vehicle History Reports

If  you  want  to  save  on  Carfax  Vehicle  History  Reports,  you  are  in  the  right  place  to  get  started       

Agile Betting System

This  is  a  truly  sexy  way  to  make  betting  winnings.  You're  going  to  love  it.                                                 

The Social Network For Entrepreneurs

The  Premium  Private  Network  For  Everything  You  Need  For  Your  Entrepreneurial  Goals.                                 

Your Survey Cash System

Earn  up  to  120$  per  Day  doing  paid  Online  Surveys.                                                                                                   

Smart Goal Setting Software

Discover  how  to  boost  your  goal  achieving  skills  in  30  days,  guaranteed                                                         

The Great Dog Training Secrets

Learns  How  To  Fix  Any  Bad  Dog  Behavior  And  Have  The  Perfect  Dog  Without  Treats.                                         

Fifa17 Ultimate Trading Robot

World's  First  Artificial  Intelligence  (A.I.)  Trader  for  FIFA18  Ultimate  Team.                                             

Vaccine legal exemption

Finally,  a  reliable  exemption  information  from  a  knowledgeable  attorney.                                                       

The Blue Sky Guide To Linkedin

LinkedIn  can  help  you  build  the  career  you've  always  hoped  for,  with  minimal  effort.                               

Secret To Manifest Anything You Want

Instantly  Manifest  Wealth,  Abundance  Or  Anything  You  Want  Under  Sky  In  6  Hours                                           

Science Proves Magick Real?

Discover  The  Shocking  Experimental  Secrets  That  Proves  The  Existence  Of  Magic...                                       

Elite Swing Mechanics

Learning  And  Understanding  Swing  Mechanics  Used  By  Elite  Hitters.                                                                     


Author Cara Robertson began studying the Borden case for her 1990 Harvard senior thesis, and has spent the subsequent years immersing herself in the story, poring over trial transcripts, newspaper articles, and other archival materials (including unpublished letters by Borden herself). The result, The Trial of Lizzie Borden — out this week from Simon & Schuster — is a page-turning account of a murder, a motive, and a media sensation. We’re pleased to present this excerpt:


In 1890, just prior to her thirtieth birthday, Lizzie Borden briefly experienced an unwonted measure of freedom when her father sent her on a Grand Tour of Europe in the company of other unmarried women of her acquaintance. In their shared cabin during the return voyage, Lizzie confided to her distant cousin Anna Borden her unwillingness to return to the house on Second Street with sufficient vehemence that Anna was able to recount the conversation three years later. Yet, return she did, at which point her father gave her a sealskin cape. The motivation for such extravagant gifts is unclear: Andrew Borden was a man who calculated the probable returns on his investments carefully, and the record discloses no other comparable generosity toward his daughters. After all, their weekly allowance remained set at four dollars—less than the weekly wage of a female spinner in the local mills.

Less than a year after Lizzie’s return from Europe, at the end of June 1891, the Borden household was the scene of a mysterious crime. Captain Dennis Desmond reported to 92 Second Street to learn the odd particulars: Abby’s jewelry drawer had been rifled and some trinkets—most notably, a gold watch and chain of particular sentimental value—were missing. Andrew’s desk had also been denuded of about $ 80 in cash, $ 25 to $ 30 in gold, and several commemorative streetcar tickets. Although the theft occurred in the middle of the day, none of the women in the house—neither Bridget, nor Emma, nor Lizzie—claimed to have heard a sound. When the police arrived, Lizzie Borden excitedly led them on a tour of the house and showed them the lock on the downstairs cellar door, which had apparently been forced open with a “6 or 8 penny nail.” She suggested: “Someone might have come in that way.” Desmond was stunned by the interloper’s good fortune: the thief had broken in and discovered the Bordens’ bedroom without attracting the attention of the women in the house. Andrew Borden noticed that the thief could only have entered through Lizzie’s bedroom, and three times told Desmond: “I am afraid the police will not be able to find the real thief.” The police were baffled or, at least, thought better of voicing their suspicions; Andrew Borden called off the investigation and attempted to keep word of the theft out of the papers.

Though the incident was officially forgotten—or suppressed—by the police and by the Bordens, Andrew Borden left the household with a daily reminder of his suspicion. He locked his bedroom every day and then left the key in the sitting room in plain sight. Because the house had no central halls, the upstairs bedrooms opened onto each other. The elder Bordens also securely locked their connecting door, which opened into Lizzie’s room. (Emma’s room was only accessible through Lizzie’s room.) For her part, Lizzie moved furniture to block her side of the connecting doors. As a result, the Borden house may have been the most elaborately secured domicile in town, for the front door was triple-locked and family members elaborately locked and unlocked their bedrooms and bureaus throughout the day.

Abby was acutely aware of her stepdaughters’ feelings, but it was not until August 2, 1892, two days before her death, that she considered them life-threatening. Despite the oppressive heat of summer, the Bordens ate leftover swordfish. That evening, the elder Bordens spent a nauseated, sleepless night and Bridget and Lizzie experienced a milder form of the same malady. Emma was not at home; she had been away for nearly two weeks visiting friends in Fairhaven. Though such incidents were common in Fall River—they were colloquially known as “the summer complaint”—Abby did not view her distress as typical. Instead, on the following morning, she went across the street to her doctor’s house and confided that she thought she had been poisoned. Learning of their fish dinner, Dr. Seabury Bowen was not alarmed, but he did accompany Abby back across the street to examine Andrew, who refused his medical expertise. In fact, the Borden patriarch stood angrily on the threshold, blocking Dr. Bowen’s entrance and shouting that he would not pay the doctor for the visit.

The subject might have remained closed, but the household— with the exception of Lizzie—fell ill again that evening after a meal of mutton stew. The prosecutor would later argue that the happenstance of food poisoning “was an illness suggestive of an opportunity to a person desiring to procure the deaths of one or other of those people.” That same evening, Lizzie paid a call on her friend and former neighbor Alice Russell and confided her fears. She believed the milk had been poisoned and alluded to nebulous threats against her father by unnamed men. Alice Russell was a sensible woman and she pointed out the absurdity of Lizzie’s fears. Despite Miss Russell’s reassurance, Lizzie spoke of her uneasiness and sense of foreboding, remarking: “I feel as if something was hanging over me that I cannot throw off, and it comes over me at times, no matter where I am.” She added: “I don’t know but somebody will do something.”

Excerpted from “The Trial of Lizzie Borden” by Cara Robertson (out now from Simon & Schuster). All rights reserved.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Post Author: martin

Martin is an enthusiastic programmer, a webdeveloper and a young entrepreneur. He is intereted into computers for a long time. In the age of 10 he has programmed his first website and since then he has been working on web technologies until now. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and Online Magazines. His colleagues appreciate him as a passionate workhorse, a fan of new technologies, an eternal optimist and a dreamer, but especially the soul of the team for whom he can do anything in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.