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The Trial Of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson.

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  • The Trial Of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson.


    I’d previously only read three or four books on the Borden case around 20 years ago so I approached this book as a complete novice. My opinion had always been “well who else could it have been?” When I saw this book advertised as being the result of fifteen years of research I decided to take the plunge rather than wait for the paperback version which comes out in March. I’m glad that I did. I found it very well written and with the advantage of having photographs within the text rather than in the middle of the book. I don’t know if any of the photographs are previously unreleased but I tend to doubt it as they all appear to belong to the Fall River Historical Society although personally I don’t recall seeing a photograph of Lizzie in old age before. This might be down to my memory though. From the blurb: Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper articles, previously withheld lawyers journals, unpublished local reports and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself.


    I can’t imagine that anyone wont be at least familiar with the basics of the case. Abby and Andrew Borden were killed with an axe around an hour apart in their house in Fall River, Massachusetts. A house that they occupied with Andrew’s unmarried daughters from a previous marriage Emma and Lizzie. There was a servant Bridget Sullivan and a visiting relative John Morse. At the time of the murder Morse was out visiting and Emma was away. Only Lizzie and Bridget were present. Andrew Borden was a very wealthy businessman who didn’t like parting with cash and both daughters felt resentful that they didn’t live ‘up on the hill’ with the rest of the elite families. Many of these elite families weren’t as wealthy as Andrew Borden but he wasn’t a man for extravagance. Emma and Lizzie felt socially ostracised. An example of his miserliness were the allowances that he gave to Lizzy, Emma and Abby which amounted to what a young girl could earn in a factory. From her allowance Abby had to buy the weekly shopping! Abby wasn’t popular with her step-daughters who both refused to call her mother and who both wouldn’t dine with her and her father. This wasn’t a happy household.


    On the day of the murders Andrew went to his business as usual whilst Bridget got on with cleaning the windows at Abby’s request. Lizzie set about household tasks like ironing some handkerchiefs. Andrew returned mid-morning and decided to take a nap on the couch. This is where he was discovered by Lizzie with horrendous wounds to the head. Lizzie said that Abby had earlier received a note which was a request that she visit someone unknown. Lizzie late said that she thought that she’d heard her return and so, on searching upstairs, they found Abby similarly murdered.


    It’s difficult to see how anyone else could have gotten into the house without Lizzie or Bridget seeing them although Lizzie claimed to have gone to the barn to look for pieces of iron to use as ‘sinkers’ for fishing. Lizzie was arrested and charged with murder although she was free from blood and no murder weapon was found. After a trial that gripped the nation Lizzie was found not guilty. So....was she guilty? My opinion remains the same....who else could it have been?

    I couldn’t help noticing parallels to the Wallace case. A suspect that showed hardly any sign of emotion. A suspect with no bloodstains after a brutal murder. No positively identified murder weapon. I believe Wallace to have been guilty (though not certainly so) and I find it even more difficult to exonerate Lizzie. Other theories tend to rely on imagination rather than hard evidence and so I’ll sum up like this:
    • Lizzie disliked and resented Abby.
    • Lizzie felt that her father kept them below their proper station in life.
    • A chemist claimed that Lizzie had tried to buy Prussic Acid from him (poison)
    • There was no evidence of the note that Abby had allegedly received.
    • No one came forward and admitted to sending a note.
    • Lizzie initially didn’t mention hearing Abby return.
    • Lizzie had no fishing rods and no ‘sinkers’ were found.
    • Lizzie had spoken to a friend about a feeling that she had of something terrible about to happen (was she preparing the ground?)
    • Her strange visit to the barn was convenient in getting her out of the house just at the right time.
    • She tried to persuade Bridget to visit a sale (to get her out of the house?)
    • Doctors claimed a gap of an hour between the deaths of Abby first then Andrew. Why would a killer have hung around for an hour? And unseen.
    • How could Lizzie have possible heard Abby return when she’d been dead for an hour?

    I’d certainly recommend this book. Especially if someone wants an introduction to the case without a theory. This book just presents the facts. I can’t help but say again....who else could it have been?
    Last edited by Herlock Sholmes; 10-05-2019, 11:13 AM.
    Regards

    Herlock






    "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

  • #2
    Hello Herlock,

    I saw a show where two veteran homicide detectives examined all of the evidence and basically came to the conclusion that it pretty much had to have been Lizzie.

    c.d.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by c.d. View Post
      Hello Herlock,

      I saw a show where two veteran homicide detectives examined all of the evidence and basically came to the conclusion that it pretty much had to have been Lizzie.

      c.d.
      Hi c.d.

      Yes it’s difficult to see how anyone else could have done it. Especially as there was approximately an hours gap between to two murders so where would a third person have been and how would he/she have avoided Lizzie and Bridget?
      Regards

      Herlock






      "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post

        Hi c.d.

        Yes it’s difficult to see how anyone else could have done it. Especially as there was approximately an hours gap between to two murders so where would a third person have been and how would he/she have avoided Lizzie and Bridget?
        Sounds an interesting read, I'll look it out, I know only the basics of the case.

        Does the book explain whether or not Bridget could have committed the murders? Given the rhyme, it seems most believed Lizzie the murderer in any case.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by etenguy View Post

          Sounds an interesting read, I'll look it out, I know only the basics of the case.

          Does the book explain whether or not Bridget could have committed the murders? Given the rhyme, it seems most believed Lizzie the murderer in any case.
          I’m the same Eten. The author just sticks to the facts of the case and doesn’t really go in for suspects though she mentions a couple of other books (and briefly one that proposes Bridget.) The trial takes up the largest portion but it’s interesting to get the background info on the household. This certainly wasn't a happy home.

          A lot was made of Lizzie’s deportment at the trial and immediately after the murder. Her self-possession came across to many as cold (possibly even callous) I couldn’t help being reminded of William Wallace.
          Regards

          Herlock






          "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

          Comment


          • #6
            Lizzie Borden took an axe,
            And gave her father forty whacks.
            And when she saw what she had done,
            She gave her mother forty-one.


            Not recently, but I've read quite a bit about this case, and it's hard not to conclude that Lizzie Did It.

            Graham
            We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

            Comment


            • #7
              I wouldn’t mind reading about other possible theories Graham but to be honest I don’t want to keep shelling out cash for them. I could try the library I suppose but I’d be unsure which ones to go for? I assume that lots of books have been written on the case. There’s a Borden Case Forum too. I just read Ripperologist and I expected a review from Paul Begg. Maybe he’ll go for it in the next issue. If you’re thinking of getting it it might be worth waiting until March for the paperback. It’s definitely a good book though.

              I just checked my Kindle app by the way and I noticed the Alan Raven book on Hanratty which I haven’t read yet. Too much to catch up on.

              One interesting thing that Robertson said was that there’s still a defence file locked away unseen somewhere which might contain interesting info.
              Regards

              Herlock






              "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Graham View Post
                Lizzie Borden took an axe,
                And gave her father forty whacks.
                And when she saw what she had done,
                She gave her mother forty-one.


                Not recently, but I've read quite a bit about this case, and it's hard not to conclude that Lizzie Did It.

                Graham
                Sorry to be a pedant, Graham, but I think you have mother and father in the wrong order.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I haven't read much about this case, but this sounds a decent starting point.

                  Dors anyone know how it was determined when Abby was killed? If it was truly an hour before Andrew, how did the maid not see her body when she went upstairs for a nap? Others apparently saw the body when climbing the stairs, so seems hard to miss.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well certainly either Lizzie or Bridget was the murderer .... which one tho im not so sure . Just my thoughts on the case, which ive read a book or two on .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joshua Rogan View Post
                      I haven't read much about this case, but this sounds a decent starting point.

                      Dors anyone know how it was determined when Abby was killed? If it was truly an hour before Andrew, how did the maid not see her body when she went upstairs for a nap? Others apparently saw the body when climbing the stairs, so seems hard to miss.
                      Dr William Dolan used digestion so I’m unsure how accurate his assessment was given the difficulties in the method. Andrew Borden’s small intestine was clear but his large intestine was full of solid faeces. Abby’s lower intestine was clear and there was still undigested food in the small intestine. He concluded that Abby had died one and a half to two hours before Andrew.

                      I think the general impression was that Abby’s body could have been missed by someone going up the stairs if they simply looked straight ahead.
                      Regards

                      Herlock






                      "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

                      Comment

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