Date: August 4, 1892
Location: Fall River, MA
Cause of Death: Blows from a hatchet
Accused: Lizzie Andrew Borden
John Morse, brother of Andrew's first wife Sarah (mother of Lizzie and Emma), was visiting the Bordens that week. Andrew had decided to divide his property among relatives while he was still alive. He was in the process of transferring a summer home to John Morse. The daughters felt this property should be theirs. This was thought to have been Lizzie's motive.
Trial: June 5, 1893
Police had found a hatchet with a broken handle in the basement, but it showed no sign of blood. Forensics experts testified that it would have taken the killer too long to clean it. Andrew's body was still warm when it was discovered. Similarly, it was argued that it would have taken too long for Lizzie to have changed her bloody clothing and returned to "discover" the body.
A neighbor testified to seeing Lizzie burn a blue dress in the kitchen stove, claiming it was covered with paint. She also testified to seeing Lizzie in a blue dress the morning of the murder. A few days prior to the murder Lizzie had tried to buy prussic acid, a deadly poison, from a local druggist but her request had been refused. This fact was excluded from her trial.
Lizzie had a powerful defense team that included former Massachusetts governor George Robinson. Though there was compelling circumstantial evidence against her, with the murder weapon successfully challenged, the prosecution had no physical evidence. The defense was able to cast doubt on all of the prosecution's case.
- Bridget Sullivan was angry for being asked to clean windows on an oppressively hot day. She had been sick with food poisoning the previous day. Perhaps she snapped under the pressure and killed her employers.
- John Morse had been out of the house when the murders occurred. He could have been hiding in the basement then, alone or with Lizzie's help, killed the Bordens. It is speculated that Emma was also included in the conspiracy.
- Lizzie did not get any blood on her clothing because she removed them and committed the murders in the nude. Then she hastily redressed, careful not to get any blood on her dress.
- William Borden, the illegitimate half-brother of Lizzie and Emma, committed the murders out of revenge after his father failed to submit to his extortion demands.