Lizzie Borden took an ax...
On August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden's father, Andrew J. Borden, and her step-mother, Abby Borden, were murdered in the family home. The only other people present at the residence at the time were Lizzie and the family maid, Bridget Sullivan. An uncle, John V. Morse, (brother of Andrew Borden's first wife) was visiting at the time, but was away from the house during the time of the murders. Lizzie's older sister Emma was also away from home. That day, Andrew had gone into town to do his usual rounds at the bank and post office. He returned home at about 10:45. About a half-hour later, Lizzie found his body. According to Bridget's testimony, she was napping in the second floor of the house shortly after 11:00 am when Lizzie called up the stairs to her, saying someone had killed her father, whose body was found slumped on a couch in the downstairs sitting room.
Shortly thereafter, while Lizzie was being attended to by neighbors and the family doctor, Bridget discovered the body of Mrs. Borden upstairs, in the guest bedroom. Mr. & Mrs. Borden had both been killed by blows from a hatchet, which in the case of Mr. Borden, not only crushed his skull but cleanly split his left eyeball.
Lizzie's stories proved to be inconsistent, and her behavior suspect. She was tried for the murders, and defended by former Massachusetts Governor George Robinson.
During the police investigation, a hatchet was found in the basement and was assumed to be the murder weapon. Though it was clean, most of its handle was missing and the prosecution stated that it had been broken off because it was covered with blood. However, police officer Michael Mullaly stated that he found it next to a hatchet handle. Deputy Marshall John Fleet contradicted this testimony. Later a forensics expert said there was no time for the hatchet to be cleaned after the murder.
No blood-soaked clothing was ever taken as evidence by police. A few days after the murder, Lizzie tore apart and burned a light blue Bedford cord cotton dress in the kitchen stove, claiming she had brushed against fresh baseboard paint which had smeared on it.
Despite incriminating circumstances, Lizzie Borden was acquitted by a jury after an hour's deliberation. The fact that no murder weapon was found and Lizzie was clear of blood just a few minutes after the second murder pointed to reasonable doubt. Some blame her acquittal on the fact that her entire original inquest testimony was barred from the trial. Also excluded was evidence that she attempted to purchase cyanide from a local drugstore days before the murders took place. Others have suggested the all-male jury did not like the idea of acknowledging that a respected man's daughter could possibly have committed such an act. Certainly, another ax murder in the area which took place shortly before the trial was a great stroke of luck for Lizzie.