Almost everyone knows the 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.” But did she really do it?
Borden became a media sensation after she was arrested for the double murder. It occurred during the late 19th century, a time when women were widely regarded as the “weaker” sex and it was generally unheard of to put a female killer on trial.
As to who killed Borden’s parents, the mystery remains secret. Though an actual ax was used in the murder, the amount of whacks is certainly exaggerated. For example, the nursery rhyme says there were 40 hits and then 41 hits, and they were really 18 and 11. Also, an ax probably wasn’t used. A hatchet was found in Borden’s basement.
According to History.com, there are many people who wanted Borden’s father dead. He was one of the most wealthy, yet frugal men in town, having more than $10 million in today’s money. He apparently had a great number of enemies and many might have wanted to get revenge on her father, who was involved in one of the town’s largest banks and was a substantial property owner.
Borden and her older sister Emma were considered spinsters by society. The women stood to inherit their father’s wealth until he remarried, which soured Borden’s relationship with her father.
The acquitted killer reportedly exhibited mental instability after the murders and gave contradictory answers to questions about the murder. Controversially, she burned a dress that she said was stained from housework and police considered it destruction of evidence.
There wasn’t any physical evidence to connect Borden to the case. Back then, forensic science was in its early stages and there wasn’t any physical evidence that linked her to the case, even though there was a hatchet discovered in her home. Her fingerprints were never taken. Although police discovered that she bought prussic acid -- a highly poisonous liquid -- prosecutors weren’t able to introduce it as evidence.
The infatuation with the Lizzie Borden murder trial has stood the test of time, still piquing interest more than 120 years after the grisly crimes took place in Fall River, Mass., in 1892. Most recently, people have begun to wonder whether or not she did it, thanks to Lifetime’s latest premiere.
The network brought the story back to life with its made-for-TV special “Lizzie Borden Took An Ax," which starred Christina Ricci, as the infamous Lizzie, alongside costars Cleo Duvall, who played Lizzie’s sister, Emma, and Billy Campbell, who portrayed Lizzie’s lawyer Andrew Jennings.
The 32-year-old was acquitted for the murder of her father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby Borden, as the Lifetime special reveals. Though most everyone believes she was responsible for their deaths, no one was ever prosecuted -- thus their murders remained unsolved.
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