Young Mayor Coughlin

On August 9, 1892, the heat was on in the city of Fall River to apprehend a suspect in the Borden Murders. Mayor John W. Coughlin, Fall River born of Irish parents, was a year younger than Lizzie Borden. He was an accomplished man, mayor and politician as well as a physician. He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore , Md. and was elected Mayor of Fall River in 1890. In 1892 he represented Massachusett’s 13th Congressional District at the Democratic National Convention. He lived a modest life, unmarried, with his mother Abigail (Abbie) and spinster sister, Helen at 399 North Main Street and but for his involvement with Lizzie Borden, might well have passed quietly into history. Mayor Coughlin, along with City Marshal, Rufus Hilliard, would announce to Lizzie Borden, in her own parlor, that she was, indeed, a suspect. This fact was key in getting Lizzie’s Inquest testimony withdrawn at her 1893 trial, as she had been told she was a suspect by the Mayor himself, then giving her testimony without legal representation present. John Coughlin died on December 3, 1920 at the age of 59 and is buried in Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Fall River. The inscription on his stone reads, “The Day Breaketh , The Shadows Disappear.”

John W. Coughlin, M.D.
Boston Globe
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St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Fall River.

One Comment

  • kate lavender

    He had such a brilliant mind! The way he walked thru the crime scene was amazing his report I had to record as a podcast as he couldn’t figure out why there was “Not A Trace Of Crimson.” Because if I didn’t make it clear before IMO they were already dead. Dead people do not spatter as much.

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