In August of 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden, were brutally hacked to death in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Andrew’s daughter Lizzie was later charged with the murders and eventually acquitted in one of the most sensational trials in American history.
For over a century now, the world has pondered the question — “Did she or didn’t she?”
Perhaps you remember the doggerel: ‘Lizzie Border took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”
Cara Robertson’s book, The Trial of Lizzie Borden, is a riveting account of the events, starting with the days leading up to the killings and concluding with Lizzie’s death many years later.
Robertson’s recounting of the arrest and trial follows a day-by-day calendar, complete with photographs of all the principals involved, including the victims, Lizzie and her sister, the housekeeper, the arresting officers, the lawyers, the judges, and even some of the reporters who flocked to Fall River.
Robertson uses official court transcripts, contemporary newspaper articles, previously withheld lawyer’s journals, unpublished local reports, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself to piece together this riveting work.
At first Lizzie’s arrest and presumed guilt seemed perfectly clear. It was well known that she and her step-mother Abby did not get along, that Lizzie was angry because of a decision her father had made, and that Lizzie was one of the very few people known to have been in the Borden home at the time of the murders.
But often things aren’t as they first seem.
Lizzie’s lawyers quickly formulate a plan to establish reasonable doubt. After all there were at least two other people known to have been in the home, including the housekeeper Bridget.
Reports of a scruffy looking stranger in the neighborhood at that time also surfaced.
Perhaps Andrew Borden’s business dealings had brought about the crimes.
Robertson’s account of the trial and her descriptions of Lizzie’s demeanor during this time were the most gripping parts of the book. Lizzie’s stoicism during the trial convinced many, including several of the reporters, of her innocence.
Stokely Memorial Library now has The Trial of Lizzie Borden, one of the best true crime books I have ever read.
Located at 383 East Broadway, Stokely Memorial Library is open Mondays—Saturdays from 10-5 and may be reached by telephone at 423-623-3832.