Crime Scene

  • Cast for Annual Presentation at Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum

    Some of the cast will be appearing at the Fall River Public Library on Tuesday, August 3rd at 6:30 for a special reading by Richard Behrens from the new Lizzie Borden: Girl Detective!  Tickets are presently on sale at the museum 508-675-7333.  Advanced ticket purchase is suggested to avoid disappointment on the 4th.  Tickets are usually sold out by noon. First performance at 10: 30 a.m.

    Cast interviews and photos may be found at

    Lizzie Borden:  Lorraine Gregoire

    Detective Seaver  Ben Rose

    Abby Borden:   Shelley Dziedzic 

    Andrew Borden: Logan Livesey

    Bridget Sullivan  Kathleen Troost-Cramer

    Emma Borden:  Barbara Morrissey

    Addie Churchill:  JoAnne Giovino

    Alice Russell:     Kristin Pepe

    Uncle John:  Joe Radza

    Officer Medley:   Justin Dunne

    Miss Manning from the Herald:   Molly O’Brien

    “Cub reporter and Girl Detective” from the Herald, and Miss Manning’s assistant: Kathryn Woods

    The Distinguished Undertaker Winward:  Michael Brooks

    Officer Harrington:  Will Clawson

    Marshal Hilliard;  Ray Mitchell

  • It’s Hot, It’s Summer, It’s Time Again

    With the arrival of scorching temps and high humidity, the cast of the Pear Essential Players (P.E.P.) layer on the petticoats, corsets and false beards in preparation for the August 4th re-enactment at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.  Rehearsals will begin in two weeks, and this year the script is new.  Written every year by night tour innkeeper Shelley Dziedzic, this year’s script will harness the flavor of popular CSI programs.  Here is what the B&B website has to say about the annual event:

    “Thirty minutes have passed since Abby Borden’s body has been found upstairs in the guest room.  #92 has become a beehive of activity with Fall River’s Men in Blue flocking to the crime scene.  Doctors, bystanders, policemen, newspaper reporters, neighbors and friends are all converging on the little drab house on Second St.   Inside on the Second Floor, Miss Lizzie Andrew Borden is reclining on her fainting couch, medicated with bromo caffeine.  Uncle John has wandered bewildered into the dining room, trying to make sense of what he has just heard.  Bridget Sullivan is frightened in the parlor, already planning to pack and flee that very afternoon. The lifeless bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden are covered with bloody sheets, awaiting procedures and the ministrations of the undertaker.  Sister Emma is rushing back home on her way from Fairhaven.  Helpful neighbors mill around looking for answers and trying to be useful in comforting Lizzie and assisting the police. Meanwhile, the police begin the questioning and searching.  Our visitors will be “deputized” as they begin their tour of the crime scene, and will be encouraged to “assist” the police with their photographic equipment and by carefully surveying the crime scenes.  They may even be motivated to ask a question themselves and to be on the lookout for CLUES! By means of the police questioning, the visitors to the house will hear the story as it happened, unfolding through the answers of the family members.  As the tour of the premises ends, visitors will be asked to cast a vote on the GUILTY PARTY, based on what they have seen and heard during their inspection of the scene of the crime. ”

     There will be a few new faces in the cast this year and a few new characters from out of the past.  Information on ticket sales, parking and times will be posted here and on the B&B site soon.  The first performance will be at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 4th.  This will be the fourteenth year that the house on Second Street has reproduced the historic details of the famous case in an entertaining and educational way. 
  • A Bit About Bowen

    Dr. Seabury Warren Bowen was the focus for last month’s Mutton Eaters Annual Meeting at the Borden home in Fall River.  Facts were pooled by members over the year and shared at the gathering.  The fruits of the research are featured in this month’s Mutton Eaters Online for May or accessed at the tab at the top of this page.  Also of interest is Dr. Bowen’s tesitimony, also found at the top of the web site home page. Thanks to all the Mutton Eaters, the Worcester Historical Museum, Lauren Hewes, Robyn Christensen, Lorraine Gregoire, Lee Ann Wilber and all who made this article possible.

  • Remembering John Fleet

    Died May 10, 1916 (photo courtesy FRPD)

    On May 10, 1916, John Fleet, former city marshal died of heart failure following several months of poor health. On May 9th he had been well enough to visit his daughter Harriet Isherwood and showed no signs at that time that death was imminent. He was stricken after midnight at his home at 85 Park St. and succumbed quickly. He was 69 years old.

    Fleet was born at Ashton-Under-Lyne in Lancashire, England March 29, 1848.  He had been in America for over 50 years at the time of his death, and had begun his working career in the American Linen mills. At the age of 16 in 1864 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served until the end of the Civil War, taking part in many engagements under Admiral Farragut including the siege of Mobile and the battle against a Spanish fort. Fleet sustained a fractured arm on the same day Lincoln was assassinated when Fleet’s ship was blown up.

    Returning to Fall River after the war, Fleet, who was rated as a “landsman” in the Navy, went back to work in the mills.  He worked at the Fall River Boiler Company on Water St., then began a new career direction as a house painter and decorator until he was appointed to the police force on February 27, 1877 at the age of 29.  His career would maintain a steady rise in this line of work, being promoted to sergeant on March 2, 1883, assistant city marshal on December 22, 1886 and city marshal on November 8, 1909. He retired on half pay May 31, 1915, when Medley, another officer involved in the Borden case became Fall River’s first Chief of Police, replacing the title City Marshal held by Fleet at retirement.

    John Fleet was known as an efficient officer and was held in high esteem by fellow officers and citizens alike. He was the husband of Lydia Wallace Fleet, the father of four sons and a daughter and was also survived by two brothers and two sisters. His daughter was Harriet Isherwood, and sons  were John W. of Seattle, Frank W., the manager of the Westport telephone exchange, Walter R., assistant superintendent of Borden City mills, and Arthur J., a designer. Surviving brothers and sisters were Richard and Samuel Fleet, Mrs. Fannie Lewis and Mrs. Ann Thackery. A third sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyers predeceased her brother a month before in Providence.

    Fleet was a member of Richard Borden Post 46 G.A.R. , Mt. Hope Lodge of Masons, Odd Fellows and Puritan Lodge, K.P. 

    Chief Medley ordered the flag at half-mast at all stations and sent the following statement:

    “ . . . His record shows clearly to the members of this department what can be accomplished by persistent effort and fidelity to duty.  In his death the department loses a friend and the community a valued citizen.  The funeral will take place Saturday afternoon, at which time I trust that as many members as can possibly make it convenient will attend.  I have this day forwarded to Mrs. Fleet and members of the family a message of condolence from the department.  As a token of respect the department will forward a floral emblem. “ W. H. Medley, Chief of Police

    The funeral service was conducted from the home at 85 Park St. at 1:30 and was conducted by the Rev. Albert R. Parker of St. John’s Episcopal Church for immediate family and friends.  The body was taken to St. John’s where Fleet had been a member for many years.  The traditional Episcopal  requiem was conducted and “Lead Kindly Light”, “Nearer My God to Thee”, and  “Heart Be Still”were among the musical selections. A large number of police officers were in attendance including Chief Medley and Captain Dennis Desmond who had worked with Fleet on the Borden case in 1892. Following the service, interment took place at Oak Grove where at the grave the ritual for Grand Army members was carried out by Post 46. The Massachusetts Police Association sent a large floral tribute in the form of a policeman’s badge. R.I.P.

    (sources:  Fall River Evening News May 13, 1916, Fall River Globe May 10, 1916)

  • Travel Channel visits the Lizzie Borden House May 4th

    “There’s no bizness like Lizbizness”

    The weather was ideal for the Travel channel shoot in Fall River.  Bursts of rain and bright sun were the order of the day and produced some wonderful silhouettes and shadows inside the house- a novel approach to the re-creations for a film crew.

    Andrew Borden was played by the Rev. Robert Richardson, a Congregationalist minister.  This was his first time out as Mr. Borden and Kathleen Troost-Cramer who usually plays Irish maid Bridget Sullivan took on her first turn as Lizzie.  Both were superb in their roles. The filming is for an upcoming program on haunted hotels and bed and breakfasts, so the focus was on the paranormal.  Thirty Odd Minutes’ Andrew Lake and Matt Moniz (also of Spooky South Coast radio show) were also on hand all day to serve as science techs for the shoot.

    Psychic and medium Liz Nowicki also made a call in the evening.  What did they find? Stay tuned!

  • Second Street Irregulars Visit the FRPD

    The annual Mutton Eaters weekend in Fall River 2010  is now just a good memory.  The armchair sleuth group had a jam-packed weekend visiting Lizzie Borden-related sites for three days, beginning with a stop early Friday morning at the Fall River Police Department on Pleasant Street.  Deputy Chief Moniz greeted the group in the entry foyer and took them to the second floor to meet the new Chief of Police, Chief Racine who recently took over the position from Chief Souza.  Chief Racine knew his Bordenia, and solemnly (with a twinkle) swore in 18 new recruits as “official deputies” on the Borden case.  The group enjoyed a great ten minutes chatting with the busy Chief, who mentioned there was a $200 reward on the “tip hot line” for any clue which would assist in solving a case. After reflecting on the FRPD and their involvement in the Borden case, the “Mutton Eaters” were treated, as a special surprise, to a complete tour of the entire facility from the booking room to the dispatch and receivng room to the holding cells.  The Wall of Chiefs, which included Medley, Hilliard and Fleet was a big hit as well as the arrest book showing Lizzie Borden’s name.  They learned that chief and deputy chief badges are turned in when the officer retires, and that the three numbers which appear over the badge are numbers of fallen policemen, killed in the line of duty.  Currently three numbers appear although the force has actually lost  more.  The badge has not changed style since the era of Lizzie Borden as witnessed by the badge of Chief Medley, Fall River’s first titled Chief of Police.  It was learned that the crime scene camera in the archive was not the one used by Mr. Walsh to photograph the Borden house, but was dated slightly after 1892.

    Original blue lantern from the old FRPD building at Bedford and High Streets.

    The facilty was impressive, with the 24 hour dispatch and call -in room a state-of-the art- facility.  The night before the visit, Fall River sustained a large fire in a private residence, with the loss of one four year old child.  The dispatcher took the group through the procedure of how the calls were received, and how the response teams were sent out.  Also on the tour were the booking desk and a tour of the lock-up where sliding doors have replaced bars.  Male and female detainees are separated from each other in different sections of the building. 

     During the visit a review of a recent incident involving the discharging of an officer’s gun during a chase was being conducted, which is general procedure.  The briefing room was included and looked exactly like those seen on so many popular television programs.  The white board showed ongoing activity around the city, using the historic terminology for the sections of the city like Corky Row, Flint, Globe, etc.

    The visit was a highlight of the weekend for the group, and the viewing of the arrest book a special memory along with the great kindness and hospitality of the officers and employees.

  • To be a fly on the wall!

    If we could only go back to August 4, 1892 in a time machine, there are plenty of places  in #92 Second Street one would wish to be on that fateful day.  Borden neighbor, Addie Churchill, was first on the scene after being attracted to the spectacle of Bridget Sullivan racing up and down the Borden driveway.  Lizzie’s cool quip,

     “Oh do come over Mrs. Churchill, someone has killed father”-

    or words to that effect have resounded down the century as being somewhat strange under the circumstances.  Addie enters the house and gets the story from Lizzie, who is sitting in the turn of the lower steps of the back stairs.

    (Prelim.) Addie Churchill

    Q. What did you do or say?

    A. I opened one of the windows and said “Lizzie, what is the matter?”

    Q. Go right on now,

    A. She said “O, Mrs. Churchill, do come over; somebody has killed father.”

    Q. Go right on, if you please.

    A. I closed the window, and went directly through my house out the front door, and went over to her house, and opened the screen door, and went in. Then she sat on the second stair at the right of the screen door, the back stairs.

    Q. The stairs, as I remember the plan, came down, the foot of the stairs is very near the back door?

    A. Just as the right of the door as you go in.

    Q. She was sitting then opposite where she had been standing?

    A. Yes Sir.

    Q. What happened then?

    A. I put my hand on her arm, and said “O, Lizzie”, I said “Where is your father”? She said “in the sitting room”. I said “where were you when it happened”? She said she went to the barn to get a piece of iron, and came back, heard a distressed noise, and came in, and found the screen door open.

    Can you picture her there?

  • Travel Channel Returns to Lizzie’s

    Thursday will be a busy day at #92.  The Travel Channel will be returning for a taping session.  The programme filmed many years ago at the house still runs on the Travel Channel frequently and the phone at #92 rings off the hook any time it airs.

    House co-owner Lee Ann Wilber will play Lizzie with newcomer Dan LeLievre in the role of Andrew Borden and Shelley Dziedzic as Abby.  Stay tuned for air date.

  • Patrick Doherty

    1896 photograph courtesy Fall River Police Dept.

    Patrick Doherty arrived at the Borden house slightly after 11:30.  His observations about the crime scene in the guest room are worthy of note, especially his remarks on the blood of Abby Borden, which would give good indication that her death was considerably before the death of Andrew Borden. Doherty was in the thick of things that morning, first having a good look at Andrew Borden’s wounds:

    “I noticed there was one wound down here, across the eye, that was very deep. It looked to me on the left side of the face, the right side was on the sofa, and the eye seemed to be knocked out, hanging by some thread or something. There was another wound came down by the nose, or down by the cheek bone, the cheek bone was open wide, by the cheek bone clear down to the neck was laid right open.” (Preliminary)

     Then Doherty followed Dr. Bowen upstairs to examine the body of Abby. Doherty moved the bed. His was the first examination, before the arrival of medical examiner, Dr. Dolan:

    ” I went to the foot of the bed; I looked at her. She was laying face downwards between the dressing case and the bed. I noticed three or four blood spots on the pillow sham, and a bunch of hair on the bed.

    Q. How large a bunch?

    A. Well, it was a small bunch.

    Q. It was not a switch or false hair?

    A. No, I think it was human hair that had been pulled out, or something, been cut out, or something.

    Q. Give me some idea how much.

    A. About half as big as that, I should think.

    Q. On the bed?

    A. On the bed. I wanted to examine the woman, but there was not room between the bed and dressing case to walk. I walked back to the foot of the bed, up around the north side of the bed, and I pulled it out about three feet, away from her.

    Q. Towards the street?

    A. No, pulled it against the north wall, away from her head.

    Q. So to make the space between the bed and the dressing case, wider?

    A. Yes. I pulled it away, and I went in, and I stooped down and I saw that she was lying in a pool of thick black blood, and her head was all cut.

    Q. Face down, or back down?

    A. Face down.

    Q. How were her arms?

    A. This way, something like that. I just put one finger here, and raised this a little bit so I could see under the hair around the ear better.”(Preliminary)

     Afterward, Doherty ran down Spring St. to place a call to the city marshal.  The telephone was in the undertaker’s shop which was opposite the Catholic Church (St. Mary’s). When Doherty returned to #92 Dr. Dolan was on the spot, and after speaking with the maid, Bridget Sullivan, Doherty enlisted Officer Mullaly in making a search of the house. The cellar door was locked, and rooms were searched with the exception of Emma’s room.

    “Q. What did you find in your search?

    A. We did not find anything.

    Q. Were you one of those who assisted in finding the hatchets?

    A. I was there when the officer had the hatchet; I did not find it.

    Q. And the axes?

    A. Yes sir.

    Q. What officer had it when you first saw it?

    A. Mr. Mullaly.

    Q. You did not see where he got it?

    A. I did not see where he got it. I saw him take it from a shelf about as high as his head.

    Q. Did you make any examination of the hatchet yourself?

    A. I just looked over his shoulder at it, that is, stood by his side and looked at it. ” (Preliminary)

    Doherty also had an interview with Lizzie:

    “A. I said “Miss Borden, where were you when your father was killed”? She said “I was in the barn”. I said “is there any Portuguese working on the farm over the River for your father?’ She said “no sir”.”Who works for your father?” She says “Mr. Eddy, and Mr. Johnson; and Mr. Eddy has been sick.” I asked her if either Mr. Eddy or Mr. Johnson were in town this morning, or up here to the house this morning. She said “no sir.” “Neither Mr. Eddy nor Mr. Johnson would hurt my father.”

    Q. Anything more?

    A. No Sir.

    Q. Did she say anything about a noise, or hearing any noise?

    A. Yes Sir. I asked her, I said “Miss Borden, did you hear any screams, or outcries”? She said “No sir. I heard some kind of a peculiar noise”. I says “can you describe the noise”? She says “no, not very well; something like scraping”. That is all the conversation I had with her.”(Preliminary)

     Doherty was also sent to inspect the properties surrounding the Borden house and went to examine the views from the Chagnon house behind the Borden barn.  Doherty would also give a good description of the dress Lizzie had on that morning as being a light blue background, a “challie” cotton print with a dark blue figure or spot on it, a description which is similar to that given by others.

  • Youtube Lizzie

    Pear Essential Players Appear in Recent House Promo

    Ric Rebelo has produced another great Lizzie video, this one promoting the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. The Pear Essential Players, a “Bordenian” Acting Troupe which performs only on August 4th, is featured in in 2008 and 2009 performances.  The video is accompanied by wonderfully atmospheric music and commentary by co-owner, Lee Ann Wilber.

  • Views through the windows

    On the morning of August 4th, if you were contemplating murder from inside #92, the first floor was a good place to be, for on the first floor a killer inside could be able to easily watch all four sides around the house without having to unlock doors and run up and down stairs.  Lizzie has no confirmable alibi for either murder- but she claims she spent the morning in the kitchen by the stove reading  during the interval when Abby Borden was murdered upstairs.  With Bridget starting the window-washing on the south end, and Lizzie sitting at the table between the kitchen windows overlooking the south end- she could easily have seen all Bridget was doing.  The windows are set so high from the ground, Bridget would not have been able to look inside the house or see anyone standing in a room, from the outside unless that person were standing in the window.

    Bridget spent a leisurely time chatting with Mary Doolan, the Kelly maid from next door over by the south side fence (now a wall) which is clearly visible from either south-facing kitchen window. The southeastern kitchen window also has a good view into the Kelly backyard and the east window in the kitchen has an excellent view of the back yard (see 1893 photo below). Bridget got water from the barn.  She admits to coming into the sink room via the north side entry once to get a dipper, and says she did not notice Lizzie in the kitchen. This confirmed that the north side screen door was unlocked- which proved a saving grace for Lizzie as an intruder could have gained entry through this door over the space of time it was unlocked, approximately an hour.

    A few steps further from the kitchen into the sittingroom would reveal just how Bridget was getting along with the window-washing.

    Sittingroom window views on south side, both window aspects.

    The dining room windows would have given a view of the driveway, side entry stairs and Mrs. Churchill’s house situated to the north end of the

    Borden house.  Today, with the removal of the Churchill house, the view is open and reveals much of Second Street and the lawn of the housing complex next door.  The view from the north side parlor window also overlooks the driveway and what would have been the Churchill house.

     Dining room window, north side

     Parlor window, north side view of Second St.

     West end of parlor, 1892 view of Dr. Bowen’s House, Boston Express Depot and Second St., one of two west end windows in the parlor. View currently occupied by the new court house.

    The kitchen was also the place to be to monitor all the doorways as well, with the cellar door and north screen door (photo below views of both) in plain sight, and the front door on the west end of the house could be heard if opened with a key, from the kitchen.

  • The Mutton Eaters Online

    Warps & Wefts is pleased to announce a new feature for this site.  Beginning this month, articles and photos of the exploits of the Second Street Irregulars will appear.  The S.S.I. or “”Mutton Eaters” is an informal group of armchair sleuths from all over America who like to go “On the Road” whenever possible to chivvy out obscure and fascinating facts about the many individuals involved in the Lizzie Borden case. When the game’s a’foot there’s no telling what will happen or what they may find-and getting there is half the fun.  This month the spotlight is on William Medley, one of the observant policemen on the scene of the crime August 4th.  Our articles will remain for six months and are for private use only.  To access this month’s feature, click on the tab Mutton Eaters Online Article above or this link  You will feel as if you were riding right alongside!

    For more about the Second Street Irregulars visit

  • Happy Birthday “Mr. Lizzie”

    Chances are, if you watch television programmes about Lizzie Borden, the face above will be very familiar.  Ed Thibault, of Somerset, Mass. has been a leading figure in the Lizzie Borden community for over 40 years.  Ed recently retired from his part time job as day tour guide at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast after many years of sharing the Borden Case with probably thousands of visitors. For many years Ed visited local schools and civic groups, giving lectures on his favorite topic, as well as maintaining an archive of clippings and books about the Borden case in his “Lizzie Room” at his home. 

    Most recently Ed gave a lecture at the Lizzie Gallery X art exhibition in New Bedford in October.

    Ed is one of the original Second Street Irregulars, an amateur sleuth group dedicated to the case, and meetings were often held at Ed’s house in the 1990’s.  But mostly, Ed is the face of Andrew Borden, and for many years Ed donned the black frock coat of the unfortunate father of Lizzie, and took part in the annual recreations of the crime on August 4th.  Two prized possessions are  Ed’s mock-up sculptures of the Borden skulls which for years Ed has carried around in a specially-made case-always a big hit with students!  Lizzie has a champion in Ed, who believes her to be innocent of the crimes.

    Ed celebrates his 75th birthday this week.  Happy Birthday, Mr. Lizzie, – and thanks for many years of sharing Lizzie with so many!

  • Still in the Top 10


    With Halloween fast approaching, a few fearless souls are looking for a frightful weekend getaway at a spooky location.  The Travel Channel had placed the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in the top 10 spookiest destinations 8 years ago at #1, even above the Winchester Mystery House.  Lizzie’s place is still on the top ten list, at #1 along with #2. The Bell Witch Cave in Tennesee, #3 The Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa, #4 The Stanley Hotel in Colorado, #5  Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky, #6 Sorrel Weed House, Savannah, Georgia, #7 Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, #8 Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pa., #9 The Myrtles, Louisiana, #10 Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, Chicago.  This Saturday 12 intrepid people will attempt to stay the night at Lizzie’s house.  Rooms have been booked for months.  October is second only to the murder anniversary month, August. Will the annual Halloween seance turn up any new clues?

  • Putting in an ap-pear-ance at #92

    Visitors and guests who visit the Borden house are intrigued by all of the pears they find inside.  For those in the know about the case, they smile and understand the reference to Lizzie’s alibi about being in the hayloft munching the fruit when her father was murdered, and sometimes humorous testimony about all of the pear-eating by the occupants of #92 on August 4th.  August 4th is also the one day of the year when the house re-enactment troupe, The Pear Essential Players, are in residence recreating the fateful day for visitors.  Did the police check Lizzie’s alibi and look for pear cores in the hayloft? Or would Lizzie smoothly have admitted to eating those pears cores and all? 🙂