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Uncle John’s return for lunch

John V. Morse, Lizzie’s mother’s brother, had spent the night before the murders at the Borden’s house in the guestroom where Abby Borden would be hacked to bits the following day.  Although John had a good alibi for the times of both killings, he was an early and favorite suspect.  John had some training as a butcher, and was a jack of all trades around a farm.  Some think he knew about, or was an accomplice to the deeds, although no motive seems clearly apparent.  He also received no money or property after Lizzie was acquitted in June 1893.

Joe Radza, an eighth grade teacher from Warren, Ohio will be playing the role of Uncle John Morse this year on August 4th at the Borden house for the annual re-enactments. Uncle John’s behavior when he returned for lunch has always seemed peculiar to students of the case. John bypassed the growing crowds by the Borden’s gate and went into the back yard by the barn and picked up and consumed several pears before ambling slowly up the side steps and going inside to see what was going on.  He had a reputation as a peculiar old guy in his boater and old gray suit and string tie.  Did he know more than he confided to the police?


  • Nicky

    There ABSOLUTELY IS a motive!!! John Morse and Andrew Borden had built a business together. When the business failed, John lost everything, since he put all of his money and life savings into the business. Andrew Borden, however, being the smart frugal man that he was, did NOT put all of his money into the business. Therefore, when the business failed John lost everything but Andrew did not. This is a HUGE motive for killing Mr. Borden!!! Not to mention, he claimed he was seeing the doctor, but the doctor was at the house exhuming the bodies. Therefore, how could he be seeing the doctor, if the doctor was at the home?!?

    • Shelley

      Thank you for your comment. I am not sure where you have found this information. Andrew and John Morse were brothers-in -law and friends but not business partners. John’s will has been published and he left a tidy sum in 1912 and owned real estate in the midwest. He also was a very frugal man and had that in common with Andrew. On the morning of the murders, John left the house on Second St., went to the post office, then walked down Pleasant St. to Weybossett St. to visit cousins named Emery. While there John saw Dr. Bowen come in to make a house call on other tenants in the building. John returned to the Borden house by horse car and got to the house around 11:45. He had been invited back to lunch earlier that morning. Yes, at this point Dr. Bowen was indeed at the Borden house, he had left once to send Emma a telegram in Fairhaven to come home, and returned to learn Abby Borden was found and also murdered. This he was told by the neighbor Mrs. Churchill when she and Bridget went upstairs and saw Abby’s body from the stairs going up as it lay on the floor. Later that afternoon, stomachs were removed and other doctors were present as well as Bowen to perform the procedures on both the corpses.

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