A picture of the Borden house

On August 4 1882, in Fall River Massachusetts (which neither of the #DickSquad can actually pronounce) Abby and Andrew J Borden were murdered at home. Their youngest daughter Lizzie was accused of the murder and tried for it, but did she really do it?

In the inaugural episode of The Lady Dicks Podcast, certified dicks Tae and Nikki tackle one of America’s most salacious did-she, didn’t-she murder stories: the story Lizzie Borden who allegedly murdered her parents.

Listen to the episode

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Note: This podcast was recorded under the name “The Haunted True Crime Podcast” which later became The Lady Dicks Podcast. So pardon the name change. We assure you that the real Lady Dicks are standing up!

The Lizzie Borden Museum and House, Fall River, MA

Visiting the Borden House

You can absolutely visit the former house of Lizzie Borden. The Lizzie Borden house is located in Fall River, MA, and is now the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum.

You can spend the night at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast or you can simply visit during the day and take a tour. Whether you want to simply look around or want to see if the Borden House is haunted, there’s plenty to check out!

Spend the night at the Lizzie Borden house

Yes, you can spend the night in the house that the Borden family murders took place in. Not only that, but you can stay in the exact room where Abby Borden was found dead (the John V. Morse room), if you dare. There are six rooms available for rent at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast and Museum, and you can rent a room or a whole floor!

Second-floor rooms

Lizzie & Emma Suite: This is a two-room suite located on the second floor where Lizzie and Emma stayed. Emma’s room has a full-size bed while Lizzie’s has a queen. The rate for this room for two people is $275 per night, but it can hold up to five guests—additional guests are at an additional cost.

Andrew & Abby Suite: This is a two-room suite, also on the second floor that was occupied by Abby and Andrew and Abby’s former sewing room that is currently a bedroom. It contains a queen and a full bedroom, and is the only suite with its own bathroom. The rate for this room for two people is $300 per night, but it can hold up to five guests—additional guests are at an additional cost.

John V. Morse Room: The John V. Morse room was the room where Lizzie’s uncle John had stayed after an unexpected overnight stay. This is the room where Abby Borden was found murdered—she was making up the bed. The rate for this room for two people is $300 per night, but it can hold up to three guests—additional guests are at an additional cost.

Third-floor rooms

Bridget Sullivan Room: This third-floor bedroom is where Bridget Sullivan (AKA “Maggie”) stayed. The rate for this room for two people is $250 per night, but it can hold up to three guests—additional guests are at an additional cost.

Andrew Jennings Room: This third-floor bedroom is named after of Lizzie’s defence lawyer. The rate for this room for two people is $250 per night, but it can hold up to three guests—additional guests are at an additional cost.

Horsea Knowlton Room: This third-floor bedroom is named in after of the District Attorney of Souther Massachusetts for Lizzie Borden’s trial. The rate for this room for two people is $250 per night, but it can hold up to three guests—additional guests are at an additional cost.

Please note that we cannot confirm the accuracy of this information as it is not updated regularly. All rooms are subject to state and city taxes as per the Department of Revenue, and children under 10 are not allowed to stay overnight. 

Borden Family Murders

If you know anything about true crime, you’re familiar with the Borden family murders. Despite taking place over 125 years ago, these are still some of the most famous in America—mostly due to popular Lizzie Borden rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother fourty wacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father fourty-one.

Listen to Lizzie Borden Took an Ax yourself

Not only are these murders well-known because of the Lizzie Borden song but they’re technically still unsolved because Lizzie Andrew Borden, the daughter of the two victims was acquitted of the murders. This despite pretty much everyone believing she did it.

Lizzie Borden crime scene photos of Andrew and Abby Borden. Is it true that Lizzie Borden took an axe, or did someone else do it?
Lizzie Borden crime photos Andrew (left) and Abby (right), Seeks Ghosts.

The Murders of Andrew and Abby Borden

August 4 1982, was a stifling hot Thursday in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was about 11 AM when Bridget Sullivan (aka “Maggie” because no one could bother to learn her real name and simply referred to her by the name of a previous maid), the Borden family’s maid, heard Lizzie Borden—the youngest daughter of Andrew and his former wife Sarah—screaming, “Come down quick! Father’s dead! Somebody’s come in and killed him!”

Bridget who was lying down in her third-floor bedroom where she was lying down recovering from an illness brought on by eating days-old, non-refrigerated mutton (yes, you heard that correctly ?). Bridget arrived in the main-floor family room to find Lizzie standing over the sofa where Andrew Borden, her father, lies dead.

At this point in the story, it’s important to note that Bridget reported seeing Lizzie in a blue dress that had NO blood stains on it. And, as you can see in the Lizzie Borden crime scene photos above, the scenes were pretty bloody.

Bridget ran to get the doctor and returned a few minutes later with the “young widow from next door,” Miss Adelaide Churchill. Not far behind was Dr. Bowen lived across the street from the Borden’s. He noted that Andrew was still warm to the touch when he went for a pulse. Not that it was pertinent to check for a pulse considering the left side of Andrew’s face had been hacked off by his killer. Sometime around this, Lizzie’s friend Alice Russell also arrives.

Andrew was found by Lizzie lying face-up on the sofa in the family room, and in all the hustle and bustle no one had seen Mrs. Abby Borden. Lizzie first insisted that her stepmother had received a note about an ill friend and had left to call on them that morning, but later she said she thought she might have already arrived home and insisted that Bridget and Adelaide check upstairs for her.

Bridget was naturally uneasy about this, but eventually, the two women went to search for her and upon cresting the stairs they saw the legs of Mrs. Borden poking out from the floor behind the bed in the guest bedroom that the Borden sister’s uncle, John Morose had been staying in. Abby had been murdered as well.

Interesting Fact: Unlike what is said in the song, Andrew was hit 11 times and Abby around 18 or 19.

The floor plan of the Lizzie Borden House from HistoricalTranscripts.com
Find more details at HistoricalTranscripts.com

That Morning: Before the Murders

At the time of the murders there were six people living at the Borden house, Abby and Andrew Borden, their daughters Lizzie and Emma—though it is important to note that her sister Emma was staying out of town at the time of the murders, maid Bridget Sullivan and John Morose the brother of the deceased Sarah Borden (Lizzie and Emma’s mother, and Andrew’s first wife).

John, Abby and Andrew all had breakfast that morning, after which John went off to visit a sick relative, Andrew went to the bank and Abby stayed at the house. Abby asked Bridget to wash the downstairs windows then went up to make the guest bed. It is estimated she was killed between 9 and 9:30 AM. Andrew arrived home a little earlier than usual, around 10:40 AM and tried to enter through the side door but the door was bolted shut. And for some reason, his key did not work in the front door either but Bridget heard him trying to get in and unlocked the door. At this time, Bridget then went up to her bedroom to lie down.

Lizzie said she was in the yard around 11:15 am when she heard a “heavy fall and subdued groaning.” She then went inside to find her father dead on the couch.

So, who killed the Bordens?

Lizzie Borden
Lizzie Borden, Britannica.com

1. Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Andrew Borden (she was clearly named after her father) is the most popular suspect of the Borden Murders. Born on July 19, 1860, she was the third child of Andrew and Sarah Borden—Emma was 10 years her senior, and a child who passed away.

Andrew Borden was a wealthy man—worth somewhere between $7 and $12-million in 2017 value. But being rich doesn’t always mean living the high life, and Andrew was a very frugal man. The Bordens lived in a home with no indoor plumbing or electricity (both did exist during this time) and were missing other such “luxuries” in their lives.

Not only that but after Sarah passes away Andrew got remarried to Abby. While the girls were young when Abby entered the picture, they never really got along with her well. Further to that, Emma, 41, and Lizzie, 32, were spinsters that lived at home with their father—though it’s important to note that at the time, it wouldn’t have been socially acceptable for them to live on their own. Lizzie’s closest thing to a “job” was that she taught Sunday School at the Congregationalist Church.

About 5 years before the murder Lizzie and Abby had a “falling out” due to the fact that Andrew purchased a home for Abby’s half-sister instead of his daughters Emma and Lizzie. At that time the Borden sisters switched from calling Abby “mother” to “Mrs. Borden.”

The ruling theory is that Lizzie killed her father and stepmother to gain the family fortune so they could live the life of luxury that Lizzie wanted. And, on this note, after Andrew’s death, the sisters did inherit his estate. They promptly purchased a new house in a nice neighbourhood in Fall River where they lived together until 1905 when Emma abruptly moved out. It’s said that they never spoke after that.

To bolster this theory, a pharmacist said that Lizzie had tried to purchase a poison called prussic acid the day before the murder, but was told she could not do so without her father being present. However, this testimony was ruled inadmissible.

It also seems odd that both people could be killed at the Borden house while Lizzie was around (not to mention Bridget). And though she said that she was outside in the barn getting an iron at the time, her whole stories seems to be a bit off…

If that’s not enough, Lizzie was found with a pail of clothes soaking in blood later, but it was explained that this was actually because she was menstruation. Bridget also said that when she had first seen Lizzie after discovering Andrew’s body, she was not covered in blood. However, Lizzie’s friend Alice did see that she burned a dress that was bloody in the week between her murder and arrest.

Lizzie was tried for the murder. She was indicted on December 2, 1892, the Lizzie Borden trial took place in June of 1893. But she was acquitted on June 20 1893. Lizzie then remained in Fall River until June 1, 1927, when she died.

2. John Morse

John as a suspect has somewhat risen to popularity due to a book written by a Massachusetts math teacher named Richard Little and Beverley Folstad. The book titled Cold Case to Case Closed talks about how John was mysteriously missing between 9 AM and 12 PM that day.

His alibi was that he was visiting a sick relative down the road with the town doctor. But that same town doctor, Dr. Bowen, was attending to the bodies of the Borden family members from 11 AM on. Little goes on to share that Abby was in fact found in the bedroom that he had been staying in the night before.

As for the motive, John was Andrew’s first wife’s brother (so Andrew’s brother-in-law), and they had a failing livestock business together. It was also insinuated by Lizzie at the inquest that John knew about Andrew’s will.

Little also believes that John may have used a meat cleaver as he was a butcher by trade. And finally, we should add that he was a genuinely creepy looking dude (not that it necessarily means he’s a murderer).

Bridget Sullivan
Bridget Sullivan, Find a Grave

3. Bridget Sullivan

Suspect number three is Bridget Sullivan the family’s Irish maid. It is no secret that the Borden’s weren’t the kindest family, and Bridget got called Maggie allegedly because the Borden’s couldn’t bother to learn her name and simply referred to her as the name of the former maid– which, let’s be honest, would piss any of us off.

Bridget is on this list is because she was sleeping in the room just above where Abby Borden was murdered and admitted to not being fully asleep at the time of the murders. But, it’s important to point out, if the timeline is correct (it could be wrong as this story is convoluted) Bridget was downstairs cleaning the windows when Abby was murdered and did not go upstairs until after Andrew returned home at around 10:40 AM.

With that said, the staircases in the Borden house was confusing and it’s unsure which staircase she would have had to use to go up to the third floor. It’s likely that there was a separate servant staircase altogether, but if she had to use the staircase that led to the guest room and Lizzie’s room, she would most definitely have seen the body of Abby.

4. Lizzie & Bridget

The last suspect is a team of suspects, and that’s the Bridget Sullivan Lizzie Borden team theory. There is some speculation that the two might have been romantically involved due to a crush and/or relationship Lizzie had on and/or with an actress Nance O’Neil later in her life.

The Lizzie Borden lesbian theory alleges that she had a relationship with Bridget. This theory speculates that perhaps Abby Borden caught the two lovers (Lizzie and Bridget) and was killed because of that, and Andrew was killed to cover that up.

But it is important to note that there is no evidence for this theory. Nor is there evidence that Lizzie was, in fact, gay. Though it speculated that her relationship with the aforementioned actress caused her sister to move out and the two of them not to have communication for the last twenty or so year of their lives.

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The Lady Dicks did not just magically come up with this information themselves, they, in fact, did research beyond Wikipedia (thanks jerky iTunes reviewer for your one-star comment), and here are those sources:

The Lady Dicks Podcast was created by Tae Haahr. The Lady Dicks are Andrea Campion, Nikki Kipping and Tae Haahr (Andrea is regrettably missing during the recording of this episode, she insisted on having a “Christmas vacation”). This episode was produced, researched, written and edited by Tae Haahr.

What do you think, was Lizzie Borden guilty? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!