Hatchet Murders of Andrew and Abby Borden
The gruesomeness of the case was quite apparent. The “fiendish murderer” had left a scene of horrific magnitude that would produce endless fodder for historians and writers ever since. Certainly the people of Fall River could never have comprehended such an act of violence within their midst and with most certainty not within the confines of such an average, ordinary home. The Fall River Herald reported the crime in the following excerpts:
“A HERALD reporter entered the house, and a terrible sight met his view. On the lounge in the cozy sitting room on the first floor of the building lay Andrew J. Borden, dead. His face presented a sickening sight. Over the left temple a wound six by four had been made as if the head had been pounded with the dull edge of an axe. The left eye had been dug out and a cut extended the length of the nose. The face was hacked to pieces and the blood had covered the man’s shirt and soaked into his clothing. Everything about the room was in order, and there were no signs of a scuffle of any kind. Upstairs in a neat chamber in the northwest corner of the house, another terrible sight met the view. On the floor between the bed and the dressing case lay Mrs. Borden, stretched full length, one arm extended and her face resting upon it. Over the left temple the skull was fractured and no less than seven wounds were found about the head. She had died, evidently where she had been struck, for her life blood formed a ghastly clot on the carpet.” (Kent, p. 1)
Lizzie was the first to discover the murders, finding her father in the sitting room. She called to Bridget to quickly get the doctor. She then proceeded upstairs to check on her stepmother and found her also dead. She explained to the police that she had been out in the barn when the murders took place and Bridget had been upstairs cleaning windows. The acts had occurred without Lizzie or Bridget being aware of them taking place. The initial belief of the newspaper and citizenry of Fall River was that a man who had visited Andrew Borden on some business had lashed out at him in anger and then had to kill Mrs. Borden in order to protect his identity, as she would have known about his presence in the house. The concept that a family member, let alone his daughter, could have committed such a grisly crime was beyond comprehension. But the police were not so sure that it was not Lizzie.