The Truly Horrific Crime Scene Of The Lizzie Borden Murder

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found brutally murdered in their home at 92 Second Street, Fall River, Massachusetts. According to legend, and the popular children's rhyme, their daughter "Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41." Although children find the rhyme spooky and fun, it has perpetuated several myths and has little basis in fact.

As reported by Smithsonian, the specific murder weapon was never confirmed. Although it may have been an ax, it could have been any number of tools with a similar profile. During a search of the Borden home, authorities found two axes and two hatchets. However, none of the tools were proven to be the murder weapon. 

In stark contrast with the legend, Time reports authorities concluded Abby Borden was struck 19 times and Andrew was struck 10. It is also unclear who actually killed the Bordens. Although their daughter Lizzie was arrested and charged with killing her father and stepmother, Genealogy Trails reports she was ultimately acquitted.

There are many questions about the Borden murders, which will likely never be answered. However, the possibility of Lizzie's involvement, and the gruesome nature of the crime, continue to inspire interest in the case. The home where the murders occurred, which has been dubbed the "Lizzie Borden House," and remains a popular tourist attraction, as visitors remain fascinated by the brutal crime.

The autopsies were conducted on the dining room table

At the time of the murders, there were only four people known to be on the Borden property. Genealogy Trails reports Andrew Borden was in his sitting room, reading a newspaper on the sofa. Abby Borden was upstairs in a guestroom changing her clothes. The family's housekeeper, Bridget Sullivan, said she was working on chores, including cleaning the windows, and Lizzie said she was out in the barn.

Although Abby and Andrew were both brutally murdered, nobody, including Lizzie or Sullivan, reported seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. Interestingly, the first unusual sound reported by anyone was the sound of Lizzie screaming when she discovered her father's body.

As reported by New England Today Travel, authorities believe Andrew fell asleep on the couch while reading the newspaper, as his body was found in a position that suggested he was either asleep or simply laying down. Famous Trials reports the medical examiner, who conducted the autopsies on the dining room table, concluded Andrew was struck with an ax or similar object 10 times. As all of the blows were made to the head, there was significant damage to his face and skull.

The strikes to Andrew's head were made with intense force. In one blow, the attacker split the man's lips, lower jaw bone, and nose. Another, which struck the side of Andrew's head, split his skull and left a deep gash in his brain.

Andrew and Abby Borden were struck with brutal force

By all accounts, Andrew Borden's entire face was destroyed and was barely recognizable. Abby Borden was found in a similarly disturbing state. As reported by American Heritage, Abby was found face down in the guestroom in a pool of blood. The medical examiner concluded she was struck 18 times with an ax or similar object.

Like her husband, Famous Trials reports Abby was struck with significantly forceful blows –- 11 of which broke through the back of her skull and left extensive damage to her brain. Although most of the blows were focused on the back of her head, she also suffered a deep gash in her back. The medical examiners also noted Abby's face was significantly bruised. However, the bruising may have been caused by a fall or the force of her head being struck against the floor by the murder weapon.

Daily Republic reports surgeon William A. Dolan, who was one of the first doctors to examine Andrew's corpse, said Andrew was still bleeding when he arrived on scene. It was estimated that the man had been killed shortly before his arrival. 

However, when he examined Abby's corpse, Dolan noted her blood had already begun to coagulate and her body was cold, which indicated she was killed prior to her husband. He also noted that there was far more blood spatter in the room where Andrew was killed.

A bucket of blood-soaked rags was found in the cellar

During a search of the home, authorities found several items of interest in the cellar. One of the most disturbing pieces of evidence found in the cellar was a hatchet –- which appeared to be coated in blood and clumps of hair. However, as reported by Famous Trials, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Edward S. Wood testified that the substance was subjected to chemical and microscopic testing and the hatchet was determined to be "absolutely free from blood." He also testified that the hair found on the hatchet was "animal hair ... and probably cow's hair."

Authorities also found what appeared to be blood-soaked rags soaked in a bucket of water in the cellar. The family's housekeeper, Bridget Sullivan, said she frequented the cellar in the course of her work and did not remember seeing the bucket, or the blood-soaked rags, prior to that day. However, as reported by History by Day, Lizzie Borden said she used the rags when she was menstruating and put them in the bucket to soak. According to CBS News, Lizzie's explanation was never questioned and the rags were never tested.

Lizzie Borden may have burned the dress she wore when her parents were killed

Although several questionable pieces of evidence were found inside the Borden home, certain others were suspiciously absent. As reported by WCBI, Andrew and Abby Borden's murders were particularly brutal, and would have left the assailant covered in blood. However, with the exception of a small speck of blood on her underskirt, Lizzie Borden did not have any blood on her skin or clothing.

It has been suggested that the bucket of rags found in the cellar may have actually contained Lizzie's clothing and the towels she used to clean herself up after killing her father and stepmother. However, as the content of the bucket was never examined, that theory was never proven.

Famous Trials reports the Borden's family friend, Alice Russell, observed Lizzie burning a blue dress in the days following the murders. The family's housekeeper, Bridget Sullivan, also testified that Lizzie was wearing a blue dress on the morning of the murders. However, Lizzie insisted the dress she burned had been ruined with old paint and she had not been wearing it on the morning her father and stepmother were killed.

The Lizzie Borden house is open for tours and overnight guests

Interest in the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden, and Lizzie's possible involvement, has persisted for more than a century. More than 100 years after the grisly murders occurred, the Lizzie Borden House remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Massachusetts. In addition to in-person and virtual tours, the house, which is now a bed and breakfast, has six guest rooms and hosts dinners, murder mystery nights, and even weddings.

As reported by SouthCoast Today, none of the original furnishings remain inside the Lizzie Borden House. After the murders of her father and stepmother, Lizzy moved elsewhere and had her parents' possessions placed in storage. Unfortunately, all of the possessions were destroyed when a hurricane caused the storage facility to flood.

Although the property has changed hands multiple times, the newest owners have decorated and furnished the house as close to the original as possible. SouthCoast Today reports the sitting room contains a Victorian sofa, which is a close replica of the sofa where Andrew was killed. In the dining room, a new table stands in place of the table where doctors conducted Andrew and Abby's autopsies. In addition to the sitting room where Andrew was found dead, guests can tour the room where Abby was killed and the cellar where the bloody rags and the hatchets and axes were found.