Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.
THAT was the extent of my knowledge of this case prior to reading the excellent book The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson. Part trial transcript, and part documentary, this is a fascinating book!
The only part of the song that is true, is that the (step) mother was killed first.
The crime occurred in August of 1892. Within hours of the crime being committed, there were dozens of people tromping through the crime scene. Forensics were obviously not what they are today! Because of this lack of reliable physical evidence, testimonies were often contradictory and most of the evidence was circumstantial.
Lizzie was considered the only one that could have done it, but the maid was in the house as well at the time. The murders were a little over an hour apart, and the force of the blows required would have caused a lot of blood spatter, but no-one saw any blood on Lizzie’s dress…… but, coincidentally, Lizzie burned a blue dress similar to the one she supposedly wore a couple of days after the murders. Three axes were found, but none were ever proven to be the murder weapon.
The book takes you through the trial day by day, and made me feel as though I was in the courtroom. It was the first trial that became a media circus, with reporters from around the country attending.
At the end of the trial, Lizzie was found not guilty but each of us is allowed draw our own conclusions. I myself believe she did it, but there wasn’t any proof beyond a reasonable doubt. At the end of the book, the reader is asked to “submit your verdict and join the conversation.” I hope you enjoy the drama as much as I did!