Alice Russell, Lizzie’s Turncoat Friend

Photo restoration HGF Grafix, animation My Heritage

Many would like to spend an hour or so interviewing Alice Russell, former neighbor and friend of Lizzie and Emma. Alice had to work to support herself and her widowed mother. It was a very different life from that which Lizzie lived. For about a decade Alice and her mother had rooms in the house next door which would become the Kelly house. The Kellys moved in sometime in 1891, bought the entire house for home and patient calls, and Alice moved down to Borden St. Alice was closer to Emma’s age than Lizzie’s and had opportunity to know the family well. Alice was the first person Lizzie thought to send for when the body of her father was found. Alice was the person asked to stay for a few days during the funeral planning. Alice saw Lizzie burn a dress the morning after the funerals. Alice was the one to whom Lizzie confided that Andrew had an enemy and “something is hanging over me- something might happen”. Alice’s testimony about the dress would bring down an indictment in December 1892. Alice is a big player in the Borden case. Sadly we have one known photo of her as an elderly lady at the Adams House retirement home. It is not a very good photo and was used first on the cover of the Lizzie Borden Quarterly and more recently in PARALLEL LIVES with a wider shot of the room at Adams House. This portion of the photograph was carefully restored by HGF Grafix before putting into the animation software and gives some idea of what Alice looked like in old age. She wears glasses and the image is not perfect but we get an idea. Oh, the questions we could ask her!


  • Kate Lavender

    I can also sense Alice’s integrity and fierce determination to tell the truth about the dress burning when I look deep into her eyes. Just for just a quick second, I know I am on the right track. Her story will be told.

  • kate lavender

    Holy Pears, Miss Shelley! You are a master artist at facial recreation. Alice Russell has touched my heart and that is why she is the narrator of my story. Alice and Emma were probably best friends before the murders and it must have pained Alice to turn her old friends in and lose their friendship forever while living in the same town. Thank you for all that you do for us.

    • Shelley

      You are very welcome- yes, the people in the case are very important and we learn a lot about Lizzie through them. I wish I could take all the credit for the portraits and animations, but nearly all the credit goes to my daughter who is very talented in many things artistic, including restoration. That degree in Fine Arts paid off for Mama! 🙂

      • Karen Dowden

        Shelley thank you & your talented daughter ! This work is monumental – just gives you a whole new window into the players of this case as real living people, watching their faces & expressions come to life. I’ve got GOOSEBUMPS !!😀

        • Shelley

          It has been a real eye opener for me too, to see these people we have known from only one bad photograph come to life! 🙂 It seems to add another dimension. Thank you for your comment.

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