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Lizzie Borden

Aftermath of the Murders

Theories and scenarios became rampant after the murders. Another interesting theory was reported in The Fall River Herald that has been given little notice in today’s recounting of the crime:

“Josiah A. Hunt, keeper of the house of correction, who has had an extensive experience as an officer of the law in this city (New Bedford), in speaking of the tragedy advanced a theory which has thus far escaped the notice of the police, or, if it has not, they are putting the public on the wrong scent. Said Mr. Hunt: “It is my opinion that both Mr. Borden and his wife were dead before the murderers struck a blow, probably poisoned by the use of prussic acid, which would cause instant death. The use of a hatchet was simply to mislead those finding the bodies. I believe this to be the real state of the case, for if they had been alive when the first blow was struck, the action of the heart would have been sufficient to have caused the blood to spatter more freely than is shown from the accounts furnished by the papers. There was altogether too much of a butchery for so little spattering of blood.” (Kent, p. 25)

It this was a correct theory, than Lizzie would have been more easily fingered in the crime as she had been spotted trying to purchase that type of poison. It has been largely accepted that Mrs. Borden was killed first and her husband was murdered shortly after. Because the Bordens had been very careful about locking all their doors, a stranger just entering the house without admittance by a family member seemed very remote. It would appear that this was not some random crime but one carefully executed by an individual who had access to the family and knew the layout of the house. Autopsies were performed on the victims and the case into finding the murderer was begun in earnest.

The funeral for the victims was conducted on August 6, 1892 shortly after the autopsies were completed. As described in the newspaper:

“The funeral services took place at 11 o’clock, and were strictly private. The bodies were laid out in the dining room, with their heads toward the east. The coffins were plain and covered with black broadcloth. A wreath of ivy lay on the casket containing the remains of Mr. Borden, while a bouquet of roses occupied a similar place on Mrs. Borden’s. The services consisted of an invocation and reading of scriptures by Dr. Adams of the First Congregational church, after which prayer was offered by the Rev. Mr. Buck. (After the service and proceeding to the cemetery) Miss Lizzie was the first to appear, and, escorted by Undertaker Winward, she took her place in the coach. No veil covered her face, and she walked with a firm and steady step to her seat in the carriage. Nothing in her manner would indicate that the finger of suspicion was pointed toward her, although it was easy to see that the burden of grief she was carrying was heavy. Emma Borden followed, her step and carriage being much weaker than her sister. The funeral cortege then proceeded to the Oak Grove cemetery; when there the final interment took place. The services were read by Dr. Adams, after which benediction was offered by the Rev. Mr. Buck. A return to the house was then made, and the victims of the most puzzling tragedy in the history of this country were left to rest beneath the clay.” (Kent, pp. 28-29)

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