By Tom McGovern
“I am innocent. I will leave it to my counsel to speak for me,” Lizzie Borden proclaimed at her trial in 1893. That counsel did indeed get Ms. Borden acquitted of murder. Twelve men on June 29, 1893 found this young woman not guilty of murdering her father and her stepmother, Abby Durfree Grey.
We all remember the children’s rhyme:
Lizzie Borden took an ax
Gave her father forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her mother forty-one
While Ms. Borden may not have actually given each of her parents forty whacks — an investigation shows it was closer to twenty — there is little room for doubt that she committed the murders. So why did twelve men find this young woman innocent of the crimes?
You may find the answers at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum, 92 Second Street, Fall River, MA, opened in 1992. You can spend the night in the same room where Ms. Grey was whacked. If you do not have the stomach for a sleepover, you can opt for a tour of the house. Tours are conducted every day between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Call (508) 675-7333 for reservations.
The major reason given for the acquittal was that they could not fathom that this young Christian woman who taught Sunday school could commit such a crime — even though she was seen trying to purchase prussic acid, an illegal substance, from a local pharmacy and was also spotted burning one of her dresses about a week after the crime. No murder weapon was ever found and no blood was seen immediately after the murders had taken place. How could someone wash all that blood off herself in a short period of time? This question also led the men of the jury to acquit her.
So next time you are traveling in Massachusetts, stop by 92 Second Street in Fall River, known as one of the creepiest places in North America, and have breakfast with the spirits of the Bordens.
GPS ALERT: 92 Second Street is the historical address of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum. The legal address is 230 Second Street, Fall River, MA. Set your GPS to this address for accuracy.
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