MA - Lizzie Borden: Axe murders, Fall River, 4 Aug 1892

Discussion in 'Past Trial Discussion Threads' started by Laura_Bean, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    On August 4th, 1882, two people died. They had been hacked to death several times with an axe. Lizzie's father and step-mother were dead. She was the main suspect at the time.

    When these two people were hacked to death, Lizzie had been on the third floor of the home, in her room, with the door closed. She was in her thirties, and was a spinster. She said she went downstairs, and found her father dead, laying across the sofa. Her mother was later found by police in her room, in a pool of blood on the floor. Both parents had been hacked to death with an axe.

    No bloody clothing was found. But a while later, Lizzie reportedly put a dress of hers into the stove. When asked why, she told everyone she had backe up against a wall and gotten paint on her dress.

    Another interesting thing is that the axe was believed to have been found in the basement. However, the axe was clean. And earlier in the week someone who worked at a local store said the store had denied Lizzie from purchasing poison. Later, the family became ill, but the doctor said it was due to food poisioning. Although it seemed like a done deal, and Lizzie had done this deed, she was acquitted. The neighbors shunned her. Her family did not believe her, but she said she was innocent.

    I have a theory. I was thinking about this case, and I remembered reading about a serial killer from 1918 to 1919. This serial killer, as I remembered it, killed people with their very own axes. Sometimes a person will get up the courage to do something evil the first time, and than will wait a period of time before ever getting the courage to do it again.

    I give you the axeman. And I am wondering how we could prove it.

    In May of 1918 a crazy man was on the lose in the United States. He was killing people in New Orleans. At the beginning it seemed that he was attacking immigrants, but than he began to kill others too. He would take their own axe, kill people with it, and than leave the weapon there to be found. He killed everyone no age, race or creed was exempt.

    Joseph Maggio was an Italian grocer who was attacked while sleeping alongside his wife, Catherine, at their home on the corner of Upperline and Magnolia Streets on the night of May 22, 1918. He survived the initial attack, but died minutes after being discovered by his brothers Jake and Andrew, who lived in the other side of the double, and had come to investigate after hearing his calls.

    These are the victims we know of.

    - Catherine Maggio was the wife of Joseph Maggio. She was attacked during the night along with her husband on the night of May 22, 1918. Numerous blows were inflicted to her head with an axe and her throat had been cut so deep that her neck was nearly severed.

    - Louis Besumer, also a grocer, was attacked in the early morning hours of June 6, 1918, alongside his mistress Anna Lowe. He was critically wounded in the attack but managed to survive.

    - Anna Lowe was attacked while in bed with Louis Besumer. She had been badly wounded and died a few hours later at Charity Hospital.

    - Mrs. Schneider was attacked in the early evening hours of August 5, 1918. The 8 months pregnant Schneider awoke to find a dark figure standing over her and she was bashed in the face repeatedly with an axe. She was discovered later when her husband returned from work. She was treated for her wounds at Charity Hospital and delivered a healthy baby girl 3 weeks after the attack.

    - Joseph Romano was an elderly man living with his two nieces, Pauline and Mary Bruno. On August 10, 1918, Pauline awoke to find a man standing over her. She screamed and the man leaped off into the night. She entered her uncle's room to find him critically injured. With Romano's dying breath, he instructed his niece to call the hospital.

    - Charles Cortimiglia was an immigrant who lived with his wife and baby on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Second Street in Gretna, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb. On the night of March 10, 1919, screams were heard coming from the Cortimiglia Residence. Neighbors rushed in to find Rosie Cortimiglia kneeling on the floor in a pool of blood next to her husband, who had a gaping hole in his torso.

    - Rosie Cortimiglia was the wife of immigrant laborer Charles Cortimiglia. She was attacked alongside her husband on March 10, 1919 while sleeping with her baby in her arms. She was badly wounded by the axeman, but survived the incident.

    - Mary Cortimiglia was the two-year-old daughter of Charles and Rosie Cortimiglia. She was killed while sleeping in her mothers arms with a single blow to the back of the neck when she and her parents were attacked on March 10, 1919.

    - Steve Boca was a grocer who was attacked in his bedroom as he slept by an axe-wielding intruder on August 10, 1919. Boca survived his wounds. It was duly noted that the assailant chiseled his way through the back door, similar to other Axeman attacks.

    - Sarah Laumann was attacked on the night of September 3, 1919. The 19-year-old suffered numerous head wounds and died at the hospital. This is the most mysterious of all of the crimes because Laumann was the only one in the house at the time and there were no witnesses.

    - Mike Pepitone was attacked on the night of October 27, 1919. His wife was awakened by a noise and arrived at the door of his bedroom just as a large axe-wielding man was rushing out of it (some accounts say she saw two men fleeing her husband's room.) Pepitone was transported to Charity Hospital where he died early the next morning.

    I am trying to find some similar info from these families to Ms. Borden's parents. If we could find some evidence to this, we might be able to link the two cases. Lizzie may not have murdered her parents after all.
     
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  3. Boyz_Mum

    Boyz_Mum New Member

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    Is the Borden house in Mass.?
     
  4. dearmont

    dearmont New Member

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    The Lizzie Borden House is now a B&B located at 92 Second Street, Fall River, MA 02721. You can sleep in the same room that Abby Borden was murdered in!
     
  5. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    Yes it is in Mass. But it wouldn't be the first time something like this happened. For instance, Jeffrey Dahmer, as a child lived in WA state. When he was 12, a little girl went missing from her home in WA state, less than two blocks from where the 12 yr old Dahmer lived. Although the crime has never been proven to be him, many people now believe that it was Dahmer's first kill. When his parents moved when he was 14, he went with them. And no more killings, (that we know of anyway), happened until he was much older. Years and years went by, with his muderous streak staying dormant. The child in WA was found murdered not long after she went missing. Again, this happened on the other side of the country.
     
  6. Boyz_Mum

    Boyz_Mum New Member

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    Laura_Bean, I think your theory is pretty interesting. I am sure there are situations where serial killers have been dormant and there's also a chance that "axeman" (in your theory) could have been incarcerated causing his dormancy OR is it possible that "he" could have traveled south from Mass. and did murder others in the "time gap" and we'd never heard of it? How much have you researched "axe murders that happened in between 1892-1918"? Did you find anything in your searches?

    How was most travel accomplished back then? Railroad? (At that time it isn't like you could jump on I-75 and make the drive in a day's time, right? Could a person have taken a boat and used the waterways to arrive in New Orleans?)

    I'm not questioning your theory, as I said I think it's interesting, I am kind of wondering some ways to search the possibility?

    Let me know if you think of areas you think you'd like help in, otherwise I will see if I can find some "axe murders" dating during the "dormant years"? Was the "axeman" ever apprehended or do you have a source that you remember reading about him in?

    :blowkiss: Thanks, I'm not trying to bog you down with questions, but you pose an intriguing theory!
     
  7. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    Thanks for posting Laura! I think Lizzie's case is interesting. I have never really decided if I think she is innocent or not.

    All of the victims Laura named in her post are thought to be the victims of the New Orleans Axe Murderer - link below.

    I think it is important to keep in mind that murders by the use of an axe was pretty common in the late 1800's and early 1900's. In 1918-19 you have the New Orleans Axe Murderer, in 1912 the Villisca Axe Murders took place in Iowa, 'The Servant Girl Annihilator' who operated in 1885-86 in Austin, a family murdered in Missouri with an axe, and many random murders committed for reasons we see today - sexual assault, robbery, revenge, etc.

    Here are some links about the cases mentioned above:

    http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/famous/borden/index_1.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_Girl_Annihilator

    http://www.villiscaiowa.com/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axeman_of_New_Orleans

    http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/weird/axeman/index.html
     
  8. Boyz_Mum

    Boyz_Mum New Member

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    gaia227, I didn't know there were so many axe murders! Thanks for all the links.

    What would you think to be a good route in looking for information to support Laura's theory? I've never been convinced of Lizzie's guilt, but never been convinced she could be innocent either.

    I think it's a pretty interesting case.:blowkiss:
     
  9. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    It is suspected there was a serial killer operating in the Midwest during the 19teens because of the similarity in the crime scenes. What they found at the scene in Villisca was blankets covering the mirrors, windows and victims faces, an oil lamp at the foot of the bed, wash basin full of blood and the most bizarre being the posing of the bodies and the slab of bacon in the little girls room (the later two are unique to Villisca).
    http://www.villiscaiowa.com/the_suspects.html (talks about similarites in crimes around the midwest at the time)

    I am quoting this courtesy of Shadowangel form the WS thread on the Villisca thread

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36661&highlight=villisca+axe+murders

    Several of the murder cases from 1911 to 1915 were linked due to certain similarities (which are not always discussed). For those unfamiliar with the case, here is a list from 1915 (the Racine, WI Journal News of 7-19):

    H. C. Wane, wife and child and Mrs. A. W. Burnham and two children, Colorado Springs, CO, September, 1911
    William E. Dawson, wife and daughter, Monmouth. IL Sep. 1911.
    William Showman, wife and two daughters and a son, Ellsworth, KS, October, 1911.
    Mrs. Hanson. Parks and son, Boston, MA October, 1911
    Rollin Hurson and wife, Paola, KS, June 1912.
    J. B. Moore, four daughters and two girl guests, Villisca, IA, December, 1912.
    Mrs. Mary Wilson and Mrs. George Moore, Columbus. MO, December
    1912.
    Jacob Mislich, his wife, and his daughter, Mrs. Martha (also listed as Margaret) Mansfield and her baby, Mary Mansfield, in Blue Island, IL, July 5, 1914.
    .
    A later addition to the list was 80 year-old Mrs BF Matthews of Hartsburg, MO, murdered in October of 1914.

    It is suspected there was a serial killer operating in the Midwest during the 19teens. There were several axe murders in MO, IL, KS and they followed the same M.O. as the famous Villisca Axe Murders. Mirrors were covered, windows covered, the faces of the victims covered, oil lamp left at the foot of the bed, killer wore gloves so there were no fingerprints, evidence of a clean-up attempt, etc. There were many similarites in several cases in the Midwest:

    Quoting ShadowAngel from the WS thread on Villisca

    Several of the murder cases from 1911 to 1915 were linked due to certain similarities (which are not always discussed). For those unfamiliar with the case, here is a list from 1915 (the Racine, WI Journal News of 7-19):

    H. C. Wane, wife and child and Mrs. A. W. Burnham and two children, Colorado Springs, CO, September, 1911
    William E. Dawson, wife and daughter, Monmouth. IL Sep. 1911.
    William Showman, wife and two daughters and a son, Ellsworth, KS, October, 1911.
    Mrs. Hanson. Parks and son, Boston, MA October, 1911
    Rollin Hurson and wife, Paola, KS, June 1912.
    J. B. Moore, four daughters and two girl guests, Villisca, IA, December, 1912.
    Mrs. Mary Wilson and Mrs. George Moore, Columbus. MO, December
    1912.
    Jacob Mislich, his wife, and his daughter, Mrs. Martha (also listed as Margaret) Mansfield and her baby, Mary Mansfield, in Blue Island, IL, July 5, 1914.
    .
    A later addition to the list was 80 year-old Mrs BF Matthews of Hartsburg, MO, murdered in October of 1914.


    I think there was definitely more than one serial killer operating in the teens. You had the New Orleans Axe Murder and the Midwest Axe Murderer. I tend to think that the Borden case was an isolated event not connected to any serial killers.
    The time frame is what is puzzling. According to the time line the killer had about 15 minutes to get in, kill two people and get out. Why didn't anyone hear screaming? Why were they both asleep at 11:00 am? I wonder if Lizzie did administer something to them during breakfast to make the drowsy so it would be easier for her to kill them.
    The lack of motive for a stranger killing two people in a crowded house in broad daylight makes me more suspicious of LIzzie. I mean after their deaths she and sis moved into a huge house in a nice area.,....
     
  10. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    It happened on the hottest day in memory. it was so hot that people outside wearing straw hats were said to have felt as though their hats were melting. On this day, the hottest day of the year, Lizzie's stepmother had told the maid to wash the windows inside and out. And she, who claimed all along that she loved the step-mother, did as she was told. She was washing the outside of the windows when the murders were comitted. Lizzie's story seemed to change from one account to the next. She spoke of eating pears outside, searching for fishing lures inside the dark and dank barn, and doing several other chores during the murders. What gets me, if she was eating pears in orchard, she would not have seen or heard anything. The orchard was a bit away from the home, and would have given someone ample time to get inside and outside of the home.

    The stepmother was killed first, and was dead for two hours before her husband came home. Lizzie claimed she helped her father to take his boots off, offered him something to drink, was denied, and went outside to eat some pears, etc.

    I think Lizzie may be innocent. What was done to her father and step-mother was a gore fest, if you will. Blood everywhere, one of her father's eyeballs had been slashed in half, their heads smashed in with an axe many many times. But not a drop of blood on Lizzie. How do you explain that? Her father had only been dead for about ten minutes when the coroner showed up. Can a woman change her dress, wash up, get blood out from under her fingernails and perhaps even her hair, etc, within a ten minute time period? And all without the maid noticing her going around washing up and changing?

    It does not leave much time. And before running outside, she would have had to clean the axe too, or at least stash it someplace. How do you move around that fast? She was well dressed, her dress was on right, and it did not look as if she had changed in a big hurry. Her clothing was properly put on.

    I read a theory. A guy says that Lizzie was wearing two dresses, one over the other, similar in color and style. She just pulled on off, he said, and was dressed neatly underneath. But on the hottest day in years? On a day when a few people in town had fainted due to the extreme heat, wearing only one set? I don't believe it, it doesn't make sense.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  11. fox1950

    fox1950 New Member

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    I read a very interesting book on Lizzie. Her father was a stingy man and although they had a nice home they lived below their means. After being acquitted of the murder, Lizzie bought another home, bigger and better, with bathrooms, and lived a different life than she had before her father's death. The book alluded to Lizzie committing the murder to gain access to her father's money. She had one sister, however, the sister moved out of the new home, due to Lizzie's partying and having a same sex partner...I have always believed Lizzie did it because of her behavior right after the murders. But Laura, your new angle is interesting and certainly food for thought.
     
  12. reportertype

    reportertype Dogs are awesome!

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    Interesting. Although in every account I have read, Lizzie says she was not in the house at the time, that she was out in the barn searching for fishing lures, an account no one believed as there was a large amount of dust on the barn's floor and no indications anyone had been in there.
     
  13. reportertype

    reportertype Dogs are awesome!

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    This is a good point; there was also a series of axe murders in Austin, TX, in the mid-1880s.
     
  14. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    I read that book, couldn't put it down. Yes, he was a stingy man, and was growing older. If he had a will, and didn't leave his daughters much, that could have been a reason for the two girls to be angry. The house was sort of a maze and had actually been built as a two family home. Whoever went into that house probably knew his or her way around that home. This would point to an occupant, and the only occupants were Lizzie, her sister, her step-mother, the maid, and her father. Although an uncle was visiting and also knew the layout of the home. Another idea that crossed my mind was a boy. Back than you could have a person bring you all of your groceries, and this was usually a child, between the ages of ten of fourteen. After the murders, in the book I read, it states that none of the children would enter the home, and instead would insist of leaving the groceries on the porch. If this is true, we now know someone who may have known part of the home's interior. This child may have even followed the lady of the house, (this being the step mother), into her room while she got her money out to pay him. Most ladies kept their money and check books in their rooms.

    Another idea that came to me, is that in the book it also stated that a person "of small stature" had killed them. The book stated that because Lizzie was short she fit the profile. It also stated, because the two had been hacked so many times, that odds were the person who comitted the crime had never murdered before. This person kept hacking at these people in an effort to ensure they were dead. To me, it does not sound like Lizzie. It sounds like a young person. A young person would be terribly afraid of being caught, and would want to ensure the people he killed were really dead.

    This young person would also explain the small stature.
     
  15. gaia227

    gaia227 I have never taken any exercise except sleeping an

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    Yeah, I believe that was "The Servant Girl Annihilator" lol, what a name.
     
  16. reportertype

    reportertype Dogs are awesome!

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    The names they used to come up with were great!

    Axe murders were extremely common during this time period.

    Everything I've read still points to Lizzie, IMO. Although, I think the maid either knew Lizzie did it, or strongly suspected it.
     
  17. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    Okay so I have been thinking. The murders were a gore fest. A person who would smash in these two people's faces over and over had a lot of hatred towards them, a lot of anger. I think it's more anger than just wanting a nicer house or demanding to be a big part of a will.

    Many people claim that Lizzie Borden was a homosexual. In 1892 that was not accepted, not at all. Even today gay people get a lot of heartache but back than it was worse.

    I read in one book that Lizzie said that day she had not locked her door. She said her step-mother never went up the front stairs, so she had no reason to lock her door when only her step-mother was around.

    Perhaps Lizzie was doing something, with the maid. You see, I have always thought, if Lizzie was guilty, the maid knew about it. She would have probably had to help clean Lizzie off, make sure there was no blood on Lizzie, etc. I think perhaps Abby Borden walked in on Lizzie, and the maid. Screaming would ensue on her part, and Lizzie would have been very upset and embarrassed. I am sure if something of that nature were found out, Abby would have told Lizzie the maid would be sent away, perhaps Lizzie needed a trip to the local crazy house to live for a while, (I have read up on it and back than lesbianism was considered a mental disease). I am sure she would have said something about her father, and his will, and her being cut out of it when she told him.

    I am just thinking something BIG had to happen in that home to result in such cruel murders, something where she tried to erase her own parents faces. And although Abby was a step mom not a biological mom, she had been in the home since little Lizzie was four. She probably didn't even remember her mom. People who knew the family had told of a Lizzie who once called Abby her mom, and that the Mrs Borden only showed up recentally.

    Just some thoughts. It would explain the anger, the erasing of their faces, the pure hatred.
     
  18. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    At the time almost any household had at least one axe, even city dwellers, for chopping firewood, so it was a choice weapon of opportunity for temperamental type murderers. As it was messy, it wasn't typically used in premeditated murders and this is one reason I have doubts regarding Borden's guilt, as did the jury I suppose. With regards to poison such substances were much more in common use back then than they are now, as was household vermin, feral cats/dogs and wild animals invading towns at night to feed off garbage and for which the poison was destined.

    Substances that are now strictly controlled or banned were relatively easily obtainable back then (opium, heroin, strychnine, and so on) but many outlets would only sell them to men, who were idiotically presumed to be more knowledgeable in their handling. Remember, this was at a time where women weren't even allowed to vote and couldn't buy liquor or firearms in many states and towns. This may be the sole reason why a store refused to sell poison to Borden, and the reason she wanted the poison for may have been quite innocent.

    Unfortunately for her, as a spinster without legitimate cause Borden would have been considered suspicious on that ground alone. She may not have been a beauty queen but she wasn't ugly either and by the standards of the time should have married unless she was concealing some dark secret such as a hidden deformity or, much more horrible, was attracted to ladies at a time when lesbianism, even though rarely mentioned by name, was a felony.

    Of course these circumstances may have contributed to build up so much pressure on her that she reverted to murder, but they could also have made her a suspect simply because she defied acceptable social norms, be it just by hearsay. I'm not sure the house where she stayed was so unacceptable to her that she felt compelled to kill her father just to acquire more comfort, after all their home was -and still is- a very nice, well furnished house.

    I'm inclined to give her the benefit of doubt, as the courts did.
     
  19. Laura_Bean

    Laura_Bean New Member

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    Has any1 given any consideration to Lizzie Borden's illegitimate half brother, William? William was said to have slight retardation, and had an axe he constantly carried around in a bag and talked to as if it were a person. One witness believed she saw him leave the home by the side door right around the time of the murders.
     
  20. Boyz_Mum

    Boyz_Mum New Member

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    Thanks all of you, this is really interesting!

    I didn't realize all the different aspects of the case (lesbianism, the half brother, other axe murders, etc...)

    :blowkiss:
     
  21. KarlK

    KarlK New Member

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    There is little info about William, apparently police either did not suspect him or didn't want to prosecute him for fear of ridicule after Lizzie's acquittal, so he probably didn't leave much of a paper trail. It might be worth a look into Fall River newspaper archives though, sometimes relevant info that didn't make national headlines can still be found in local sources. As far as the "big" papers were concerned a well-to-do spinster murderess sold a lot more copy than a mentally handicapped man (a lunatic, as they were then called) killing in a sudden fit of violence, so they may have disregarded info pertaining to William.
     

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