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?
The Pear Essential Players present the annual re-enactment of the famous Borden murders on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 at the scene of the crime on Second Street in Fall River. For more information on times and tickets, please visit http://www.lizzie-borden.com/
July 1st is getting mighty close to the big week in Fall River when Jill Dalton reprises her smash hit from June 20th- Lizzie Borden Live. Also making a “comeback” will be the irrepressible Mutton Eaters on hand to add a bit of period dash to the streets of Fall River, the Borden’s house on Second St. and the trolleys. The Mutton Eaters are an armchair sleuth group devoted to Borden research and interpreting the roles of key historical characters in the case. It will be a big week for the little troupe as Tuesday August 4th will be the re-enactments at the house where it all began as the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum marks the anniversary of the famous crime. Lizzie Borden Live will once again sparkle at the new -old Eagle on Friday and Saturday, August 7&8. Get your tickets early!
Andrew Borden knew a thing or two about home improvements and value. The cast iron radiators he put in when the family moved into 92 Second Street in 1872 are still going strong today. Here is a photo taken on the day of the crimes in 1892 of the radiator in the front hallway.
Today, the same radiators heat #92 . The current boiler is also located in the same place in the cellar that was the location in 1892. Oh, to get a metal detector under that boiler!
The bedroom furniture in the guest room today is such a very good replication of what was actually in the room on the day of the murders that guests to the house think it is the actual furniture. Abby’s head is seen in the old sepia photographs lining up at the middle knob on the dresser as she lay on the floor between the dresser and the bed. There was a small folding canvas camp chair in front of her head and the sewing machine was in the northwest corner where the large armoire is today. The green dress in the corner was worn by Elizabeth Montgomery in the 1975 film The Legend of Lizzie Borden and was designed by Guy Verhille for the Paramount Studios production.
The diningroom holds a great fascination as a place where many things transpired during the week leading up to the murder. After being served seafood in this room on Tuesday evening, August 2nd, the family became violently ill Tuesday night. Abby Borden sought help from the physician across the street on Wednesday morning. Uncle John arrived later Wednesday afternoon and partook of lunch in this room before leaving for errands in nearby Swansea. On the day of the murder, this was the site for the “Last Breakfast of Abby and Andrew Borden” and Uncle John before the threesome would part company forever. The menu is memorable: mutton, mutton broth, over ripe bananas, sugar cookies, jonnycakes and coffee. The diningroom is also the last place Abby is seen alive by maid, Bridget Sullivan as she discussed the noonday meal with Lizzie before going upstairs to her grisly end. Later, when Mr. Borden returns home, Bridget, in the diningroom, overhears what will be the last conversation between Lizzie and her father before Bridget goes upstairs to the third floor to lie down. At some point around eleven o’ clock a killer will pause in the doorway between the diningroom and sittingroom shown in the photo above, before striking down Mr. Borden. The corpses of the two murder victims lay in the dining room from Thursday through Saturday morning. Mrs. Borden’s stomach was removed in this room.
This is today the room where overnight guests share their breakfast.
The house on Second Street has many visitors over the year, both day tourists and overnight guests at the B&B and all without exception gravitate to the black sofa, a close copy of the original upon which Andrew J. Borden breathed his last. So many have sat for photos on this piece of furniture that the original one put in the sitting room in 1996 has been reupholstered twice and has retired to the gift shop while a second black sofa had to be purchased for the sitting room. The sitting room, crime scene of the second August 4, 1892 murder is little changed today from what it was 116 years ago. The windows are original, the doors and moldings, mop boards and fireplace are just the same. There were 2 chairs, a sofa, a tripod table and a small center table in the room. The closet under the staircase was used for hats and old coats and jackets. It is a deep closet, with the original hooks intact today. Considering the blood spatter pattern, the general consensus was that the killer most likely stood near the diningroom doorway near the head of the sofa to administer the blows to the dozing head of Andrew Borden. The photo montage below is a 360 degree view of the room beginning north, clockwise around the room.
This is the first of a new series featuring 360 degrees of still photography of each space within the Borden house on Second Street as it appears today. The entry and kitchen were scenes of much action on August 4th. The side (North) entry door would appear to have been the only way a killer could have sneaked in unaided, during the time the maid was out washing windows and Lizzie was in the barn. The bottom of the back stairs was the spot where Lizzie told her neighbor Mrs. Churchill, first on the scene, all about what had happened. Lizzie was seen leaning against the screen on the inside. Later pharmacist Mr. Bence would peer down this same back entry hall and identify Lizzie as the woman who had tried to buy Prussic acid on the day prior to the murders. Many neighbors, friends and police would pace up and down the short length of back hallway that day, coming in and out of the house. Emma, returning from Fairhaven would walk into this space after she got off the train, finding shocking things going on in the sitting room and diningroom. The day after the funeral, Lizzie would be observed burning up a skirt and blouse in the kitchen stove by her friend Alice Russell. If walls could talk, the entry and kitchen would have plenty to say!
Bridget’s Run, filmed May 2008 Lizzie Mini #4
Q. Did she say anything when you got down stairs?
A. She said “go for Dr. Bowen”. I ran ahead, I did not know what was the matter. She told me to “go quick and get Dr. Bowen.”
Q. What did you do then?
A. I went right over to Dr. Bowen’s.
Q. Who did you find there?
A. Mrs. Bowen.
Q. You told her what had happened?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. Dr. Bowen was not there?
A. No Sir.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. Came back.
Q. Dr. Bowen lives right across the street?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. Who was there when you came back?
A. Nobody but Miss Lizzie. I told her he was not in. I told her what Mrs. Bowen told me. She told me to go after Miss Russell.
Q. What did you do then?
A. I went after her.
Q. Where does she live?
A. On Borden street.
Q. How far away is that?
A. I do not know, it is a good ways away. I could not tell you exactly how long it is.
Q. Did you find Miss Russell?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. Had anybody else come in when you came back there, telling that Dr. Bowen was not there?
A. No Sir, I did not see anybody.
Q. Where was Miss Lizzie when you came back from Mrs. Bowen’s?
A. Where I left her, standing at the door.
Q. At that time when you went out after Dr. Bowen, did you find the screen door locked?
A. No Sir.
Q. Shut up?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. Did you come back with Miss Russell?
A. Ahead of her.
Q. When you came back, who did you find there then?
A. Dr. Bowen was ahead of me, he stepped out of his carriage as I came up Second street. Dr. Bowen went in ahead of me.
Q. When you got in, who did you find there?
A. I think Mrs. Churchill was in when I got in there.
Q. She is the next door neighbor?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. She was in when you got back?
A. Yes Sir.
Q. What was said when you got back?
A. I cannot tell.
Q. Where was Miss Lizzie when you got back?
A. She was there.
A. I could not tell you where, I think she must be in the kitchen; I think she was in the kitchen.
Q. Who else was there besides Mrs. Churchill?
A. That is all I remember, Mrs. Churchill and Dr. Bowen.
Q. Did you then see the body?
A. No Sir.
Re-Enactment Cast 2008
Lizzie Borden- LeeAnn Wilbur
Abby Borden -Shelley Dziedzic
Andrew Borden – Jeff Massan
Bridget Sullivan- Kathleen Troost-Cramer
Emma Borden- Barbara Borden Morrissey
Mrs. Churchill- JoAnne Giovino
Mrs. Bowen- Susan Hauck
Mr. James E. Winward, Undertaker- Andrew Correia
Miss Manning from the Fall River Herald- Lorraine Gregoire
Dr. Dolan- Ted Gregoire
Detective Seaver- Ben Rose
Little Abbie Whitehead- Kathryn Woods
Alice Russell- Colleen Johnson
(Medical Examiner, Dr. Dolan) “They (blood spots) were over the back of the lounge eighty six of them, in one cluster, as I say, describing the arc of a circle from the west, east that is, from the parlor door towards the kitchen door. I should say not over three or four inches east of his head [and describing a semi circle]. Some very minute, some the size of a pin head, others were the size of a pea, and varying from that.”
‘Further along towards the east on this picture, a picture framed and suspended above the sofa On that picture and frame were in all forty spots. The highest spot there was fifty eight inches from the floor.
. . . They were more as though shooting directly upward, that is, diagonally from the head .”
“On the door (to the kitchen) there were two spots.. . . If I remember correctly, I think one was three feet one inch from the floor in the groove in the division of the door. There was another one about six inches from the floor on the door proper, about quarter of an inch from the casing of the door.The one in the groove was a medium spot. I could not give you the measurement.. it was probably the size of a huckleberry, a small huckleberry.”
“I found one on the west door, the jamb of the door leading from the sitting room into the dining room.I did not measure it. I should judge from twelve to fourteen inches (from the carpet).It was not a spot, it was a string, as it were, of blood. Instead of being a spot of blood, that was long, it would probably measure, if drawn out, two inches or two and a half inches.”
(Preliminary testimony, John Morse answering questions about door in photo below)
Q. Do you recollect how the blood spots upon the parlor door in the sitting room appeared before they were washed off?
A. The one that goes into the parlor?
Q. The sitting room door, yes, that goes into the parlor.
A. There was quite a considerable many spots of blood on it.
Q. What portion of the door were they on?
A. Mostly from the knob down.
Q. Any above the knob that you noticed or recollect?
A. I dont recollect.
Q. Mr. Dolan testified that he thought there were seven or eight, what should you say as to that, were there more or less in your opinion?
A. On that whole parlor door? On the place that is now washed out, he counted ten, as I understood him.
Q. So far as you know that parlor door was the only place where there was any blood washed from, is not it?
A. It is all I know anything about.
Q. What should you say of the number of spots there was upon that door?
A. I never counted them, only just a rough estimate; I should say not less than forty, and maybe more.
Q. Was it, or was it not, sprinkled over the entire width of the door along the lower part?
A. Yes, all over the door, that is all over in spots.
Q. Can you tell what the location of those spots are, as to the large or small spots?
A. The largest ones were nearest to the bottom of the door.
Q. Did you notice what the direction of those spots were, whether there was a spatter and a direction which they appeared to take after they struck?
A. I think the heaviest part of them, if I recollect, was down.
Q. The heaviest spots were nearest the bottom?
A. Yes sir.
Selling like hotcakes off the shelves of Phantom Book Shop in Ventura is Richard and Deb Senate’s latest excusion into the psychic world – a solution to the Borden case. Deb has the gift of picking up impressions from holding objects from a crime scene. The couple is now tackling England’s own Lizzie Borden- Jack the Ripper. For ordering information and more on this title, visit their website at
Plans are being made to install a 24 hour webcam at the scenes of the crimes in the sitting room and guest bedroom at the Borden house on Second Street. Interested viewers at home could then check in at leisure to see what was transpiring at any time of day or night in the sitting room, and the guest bedroom when not occupied by overnight guests. Followers of the paranormal are particularly excited by this prospect. The date when this experiment goes into effect has not yet been announced.
Lizzie Borden Mini #3: The Death of Abby Borden
Lizzie Borden House
Youtube has featured one or two great little amateur filmettes by guests and visitors to #92 over the years. Beginning in 2008, no videography is allowed in the house (tours) . This offering has great music, effects, and camera angles worthy of Hitchcock. Watch for the spectral hatchet!
It is wonderful to revisit the first days of the the Lizzie Borden B&B via Youtube, only weeks after it opened on August 4, 1995. All of the original staff are there including George Quigley, brother of present cook, Dave Quigley, owners Ron Evans and Martha McGinn, and day manager Rochelle Pettenuti who painted the portraits of the Borden clan which still hang in the rooms on the second and third floor. It was Ron Evans who had the vision and passion to open the house to the public as a museum and bed and breakfast. Sadly, he lived only a very short time afterward and would not know how very successful his dream would become. The house had just been repainted in a tan and brown color scheme, and furnished as closely as possible to the house as it was in 1892.
The guest room which was to become a chamber of death to Abby Borden is situated off the second floor landing. There are only two doors leading into it: one from the hall landing, and one door leading into it from Lizzie’s room. Lizzie says her room was kept locked and a heavy tall bookcase blocked entry into the guest room from her side of the communicating door, rendering that entryway unusable by the killer.
That leaves only the hall landing entry door. Sounds of approaching footsteps can be clearly heard almost immediately in the guestroom as the killer would have started up the staircase.
Abby would have heard and seen who came through the door. With the only method of escape open to her being an across -the -bed attempt to flee, the bed curiously showed no signs of disturbance later on when the body was found.
With a wound cut deep over her left ear, with the skin hinge at the back, it must be that either Abby had her back to the killer and spun around at the last minute to see what was coming at her, or she was facing her killer when the first blow fell. Measuring back five feet three inches (Abby’s height) from the spot where her head hit the floor, she must have been standing at the foot of the bed when she was attacked. Abby would not have been surprised to see John Morse (who had stayed in that room the previous night), the maid, Bridget Sullivan- or Lizzie. All could have entered without causing alarm. John Morse has an alibi, Bridget was seen washing windows and also talking to the Kelly’s maid, Mary Doolan out by the fence- which leaves only- Lizzie.