And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
Well, that is the way one anonymous writer captured the infamous axe murders for which Lizzy Borden was accused, but acquitted. It is, of course, a popular rhyme, but it is not accurate. It is now 120 years later and I thought a good subject for the season and a general commentary about what we think of as a recent phenomena. For example, there have been two axe murders here in New Hampshire in the past several years.
But, for the year 1892 the brutal murders of her father Andrew Borden and her stepmother Abby, made worldwide news. Perhaps it was the fact that Lizzy was a young women, or that the extreme brutality of the murders was what that caught the fancy of the public. From the transcript: "On August 4, 1892 Andrew Borden was slumped on a couch in the downstairs sitting room, struck with a hatchet-like weapon. One of his eyeballs had been split cleanly in two". In an upstairs room, Lizzie's stepmother was also murdered with an "axe like object". In June of the following year Lizzy faced a trial and after a relatively short deliberation, was found not guilty. Of course, there is a complicated back-story that is well covered in the Lizzy Borden homepage by Douglas Linder here. If you are interested in history and accuracy, you will be interested in the murders as I was. If this was a current story, CSI and Criminal Minds would be all over it. But, it remains a mystery with real tragedy and that is what murder usually is all about.