This week (August 4-10) in crime history – Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered her father and stepmother (August 4, 1892); Marie Noe was arrested and charged with killing her 8 children (August 5, 1998); New York gangster Dutch Schultz was born (August 6, 1902); First use of the electric chair for execution in U.S. (August 6, 1890); U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed (August 7, 1998); German saboteurs were executed in U.S. for spying (August 8, 1942); Manson family began their two day murder rampage through Los Angeles (August 9, 1969); Arthur Walker was found guilty of spying for the Soviet Union (August 9, 1985); David Berkowitz, “The Son of Sam” serial killer was arrested (August 10, 1977)
Highlighted crime of the week -
On August 4, 1892 - Andrew and Abby Borden were found hacked to death in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home. Andrew was discovered in a pool of blood on the living room couch, his face nearly split in two. Abby was upstairs, her head smashed to pieces; it was later determined that she was killed first. Suspicion soon fell on one of the Borden’s two daughters, Lizzie, age 32 and single, who lived with her wealthy father and stepmother and was the only other person besides their maid, Bridget Sullivan, who was home when the bodies were found. Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the double homicide. As a result of the crime's sensational nature, her trial attracted national attention.
Lizzie Borden was born on July 19, 1860. Her mother died when Lizzie was a young girl and her father, who became a bank president and successful businessman, married Abby Gray, who helped raise Lizzie and her older sister Emma. The sisters reportedly despised their stepmother and, as adults, argued with their father over money matters. Lizzie claimed she was in the barn at the time of the murders and entered the house later that morning to find her father dead in the living room. The evidence that the prosecution presented against Borden was circumstantial. It was alleged that she tried to buy poison the day before the murders and that she burned one of her dresses several days afterward. And, although fingerprint testing was becoming commonplace in Europe at the time, the Fall River police were wary of its reliability and refused to test for prints on the potential murder weapon, a hatchet, found in the Borden’s basement. The fact that no blood was found on Lizzie coupled with her well-bred Christian persona convinced the all-male jury that she was incapable of the gruesome crime and they quickly acquitted her. Lizzie, who inherited a substantial sum after her father's death, moved from the murder site into a different home, where she lived until her death on June 1, 1927. Today, the house where the Borden murders occurred is a bed and breakfast. Despite Lizzie Borden's acquittal, the cloud of suspicion that hung over her never disappeared. She is immortalized in a famous rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks; when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author's website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com.
The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: