There are spirits here who are angry, some who are guilty, and some who are missing their old lives.
People and animals who are brutally murdered sometimes are emotionally stuck.
The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast is a small rectangular, plain clap board 1845 Greek Revival Victorian home, that is two stories tall, dark green, with the customary cellar and a full-size attic, almost like a third story. Its windows are adorned with green shutters. From the sidewalk, one can feel a creepiness in its aura.
Th first floor has all the common rooms, like the parlor, dining room and kitchen. The central staircase leads up to the second floor bedrooms for family members and the guest room. The maid’s room was located in the attic.
Yet, it is also charming and well-run. Its spirits are restless, and have an uneasiness that can be picked up by the sensitive. No guest is ever hurt here, or leaves in the middle of the night. Spirits are polite, but make their presence known to the living.
Andrew Borden was a widower, after his first wife, Sarah, died. He was left with two small daughters, Lizzie and Emma, when he married 36-year-old Abby, an event that I bet Abby regretted many times. Theirs was not a happy home life. Andrew was a bit of an odd duck to start with, what we would today call a control freak with a mean attitude, and several personal issues, and someone who shouldn’t have had children.
One of his issues was the fear of losing his vast wealth. Though he became a banker, and was extremely wealthy, he was also extremely tight with his money, insisting, for instance, that no food be thrown out, thus not wasting it. Many times, the family ate spoiled food. They lived in a modest part of town, very frugally, on a tight leash. He saw no value in the arts, and prohibited them in his home, and for his family.
He ruled his household with a stern demeanor, not showing much love to anyone; perhaps he tried in his own way. He had absolute control over everyone’s behavior, sometimes enforcing his will in a mean-spirited manner, which is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. It is no wonder that both Emma and Lizzie were not married and still living at home in their thirties! Suitors would’ve been scared away by their father, and the sisters must have had issues with men, being warped by their father’s behavior.
Unfortunately, there was no love between Abby and the girls either, who strongly disliked their stepmother. Abby was stuck in a marriage of convenience for years, to a pill of a man, and saddled with the responsibility of raising two stepdaughters with bad attitudes who weren’t her own. The daughters were raised in a rigid, overbearing atmosphere, probably transferring all their unhappiness that they had for their father, onto a more likely scapegoat, Abby. What a dysfunctional family! They really needed family therapy in a time when there wasn’t such a thing.
To make matters worse, according to researcher, the late Arnold Brown, who wrote a book on the subject, an unbalanced young man who claimed to be Andrew’s illegitimate son, William, showed up late in the game and demanded to be recognized as an heir. Abby was very angry and upset. So, Mr. Borden changed his will, either to leave his money to Abby’s family, and/or to leave his money to charity. UH OH!! This would leave Lizzie, Emma, and William not in line to inherit anything.
Around 9:00 am on the morning of August 4th, Abby, their maid, Maggie, and Lizzie were in the home. Mr. Borden had gone to the bank. Maggie was downstairs washing the windows. Abby went up to the guest bedroom on the second floor to straighten the room, for they’d had a guest the night before, the late Sarah’s brother, John Morse, another odd person, with peculiar reactions.
In the guest bedroom, sometime between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM, Abby’s killer pulled the window shade, and lunged at Abby, who whirled around to face her killer. The hatchet landed in her forehead, and she crumpled face down on the floor, next to the bed. Her killer finished her off by either straddling her body, or sitting on her back, to deliver another 19 blows.
Meanwhile, Maggie supposedly went up to the third floor to rest. Mr. Borden came home for lunch a bit earlier because he didn’t feel well. He laid down on the couch. His killer slipped through the dining room, and attacked him with the hatchet from behind. Mr. Borden didn’t see it coming. The hacking stopped after 11 blows, after the hatchet handle broke off, because the blade was caught in his skull. What was thought to be the murder weapon was found later downstairs in the basement. It fit perfectly into the cuts made in Andrew’s skull. Years later, forensics experts were able to determine that this same hatchet blade made the rips in Abby’s head scarf.
The number of hatchet strikes on the bodies suggest that these murders were a crime of passion and hate, pointing to a family member with tremendous built up anger and rage, or perhaps an unbalanced person, ready to vent their emotions through murder. Most think that Lizzie did it, though some say that Lizzie and William were in cahoots, and planned it out together.
What a pair! Speculating, perhaps Lizzie killed her stepmother, while William did in who he thought was his birth father, Andrew Borden. William didn’t handle rejection well. Another theory is that William did both murders, though most of the evidence points to Lizzie.
Supposedly, Lizzie found her father, dead on the couch. She said that she told Maggie that father was hurt, and sent her to fetch the doctor and a neighbor.
Her demeanor in front of the police was calm, unemotional, despite finding her father and stepmother dead, a big red flag to the police. When they asked her,”Where is your mother?” She coldly replied, “She isn’t my mother; she’s my step-mother!!”
She was arrested days later when her story about what happened kept changing. Lizzie was charged with three first degree murder counts: for her father, her stepmother and another murder charge added for killing both Andrew and Abby.
After a ten day circus trial, Lizzie was found not guilty due to a lack of hard evidence, tying her to the crimes. No witnesses came forward to link her. The jury was not willing to send her to the death house on what was presented in court. The circumstantial evidence wasn’t enough to convince this jury of twelve men that the timid, demure, obedient woman, Lizzie Borden, was capable of these vicious killings.
Hindsight expressed by the Monday morning quarterbacking people in our own era, have come to the general consensus that the police investigation, police practices and the prosecution dropped the ball in this infamous case: in gathering evidence, questioning witnesses, and paying attention to details.
1) Unfortunately, these killings were done in an era when sealing the crime scene wasn’t done, and the killer or killers had plenty of time to dispose of bloody clothes, and other key pieces of hard evidence that could tie the killers to the murder.
2) The police perhaps should’ve stepped into the maid a little harder in interrogation. The Borden family’s maid, Bridget Maggie Sullivan, was a young Irish immigrant with terrific hearing, and I bet she could hear the murders taking place, as sound travels well in Victorian houses, especially small ones. One could speculate that she was paid off, not to tell what she knew.
One possible scenario is that she heard the sounds of Abby’s vicious killing on the second floor above the first floor where she was washing windows. If she did, she probably ran up the stairs to see what had happened. After agreeing to keep her mouth shut for money, she could retreat to her third floor bedroom, until Andrew was murdered also. She then did what the killer advised her to do: go for help.
One source claims that years later, when Maggie thought she was on her deathbed, she summoned her best friend via a letter, asking her to come, so that Maggie could tell her a burdening secret about the Borden murders. Maggie, it seemed, wanted to get something off her chest before she met her maker.
But when her friend arrived, Maggie was feeling much better and thought better of revealing her truth, long kept hidden. She died without telling anyone what she knew. She chose to live with the guilt that she’d held back vital information, letting a killer/killers escape justice. Perhaps, she could’ve saved Andrew’s life if she had just acted.
3) The police failed to follow up on clues: After receiving a rather odd letter from William, that sort of confessed to the crime, they didn’t follow up and bring William in for questioning. William was probably seen as being mentally off-balanced, and was just trying to help Lizzie. He hung himself about eight years after the trial, suggesting that mental illness got the better of him, or was it a guilty conscience?
After spending ten months in jail, Lizzie was freed after the acquittal. However, she was found guilty in the court of public opinion. The townspeople of Fall River believed she was the murderer, and shunned her.
Lizzie and Emma received their full inheritance, because the new will had mysteriously disappeared. The sisters decided to rent out their family home, and move up to a more classy neighborhood. They bought a mansion, calling it Maplecroft. They had no trouble living with-in their new wealth, instead of living a restricted life, way under their financial means.
Finally free from her father’s tyrannical presence, Lizzie, who loved the arts, started to associate with people that her father wouldn’t have tolerated, such as traveling artists and performers, inviting them to stay at Maplecroft and perform for her.
This didn’t sit well with Emma, who actually shared her father’s views about the arts. After a huge fight with Lizzie, Emma forever broke ties with her sister, and moved to New Hampshire. Lizzie continued to live at Maplecroft until she died in 1927.
Despite all the relationship issues and the murder, the whole family, including Sarah, Andrew’s first wife, and a child that had died, were buried together in the Borden plot in Oak Grove Cemetery.
In 1918, the Borden home, a place of heinous unsolved crimes, was sold to a private family. The house was used as a private family home throughout the years, its new owners living with the problem of lookie-loos, wanting to see the scene of the crime. Since 1948, the home has been in the McGinn Family line.
When the McGinns inherited the Borden home from a grandmother, they decided to take advantage of peoples’ curiosity. The McGinns renovated and restored the mansion to look just like it did when the Bordens lived there. They set the antique-era furniture up exactly the way it was on that infamous day in August.
In 1996, they opened it up as Lizzie Borden Bed and breakfast. In this way they found a way of making a long-time annoyance into a way of making a living. People were indeed ready to spend the night and learn about the murders.
The unintended consequence was that this change enticed restless spirits to enter the living’s realm of existence for the first time, politely making themselves known.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
The Lizzie Borden Home is the scene of two grisly unsolved murders, the hatchet killings of seventy-year-old Mr. Andrew Borden and his second wife, sixty-four-year-old Abby Borden. This infamous moment in history is the sole cause of no less than five of the hauntings going on in this house.
The spirits of people and animals who have been brutally murdered and experienced painful ends of life, have been known not to be able to let go of this world.
Glensheen Museum and the Congdon Estate, MN (Matriarch Elizabeth Congdon and her nurse were brutally killed in a plan concocted by adopted daughter Marjorie, who wanted her inheritance. The spirits of these two murder victims reside in a place they once loved, and now continue to find peace there).
Kahler Grand, MN (Helen Vorhees, heiress of the Brach candy-making family, was brutally killed by underworld thugs. Her spirit visits and stays here for peace and possibly justice).
Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens, CO (Two young women living in a low-rent boarding house here were brutally murdered by a fellow renter. Their spirits still room together, and still hope that their murderer will be caught).
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, MA (The grisly hatchet murders of Andrew, Abby, and the cat were a bloody and horrific way to die. The cat was found the day before, and the Bordens’ mangled bodies were discovered on August 4th, 1892. Their killer was never convicted. Adding insult to injury, I wonder how the spirits of Andrew and Abby feel having the remains of Lizzie and Emma buried in the family grave site).
Guilt for wrongdoing and for life’s mistakes can transform itself into an obsession, causing restlessness that keeps spirits trapped in this world.
Stone’s Public House, MA (The spirits of John Stone, the murderer, and his three employees who helped to bury the body afterward are stuck here, full of remorse and worried about the living finding out what really happened).
USS Hornet, CA (A Chief Petty Officer on board the USS Lexington C16 backed up inadvertently into a propeller. His spirit is very angry at himself and won’t leave his post).
Fort Worden Guard House, WA (While cleaning his gun, a guard accidentally shot himself dead in the guard house in front of the fort’s jail. His spirit is still going forth with his duties, while fuming about his death).
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, MA ( Lizzie’s version of what happened has been severely tested, both in this world, and in the afterlife. She seems to be stuck in her own hell, trying to be sure that she got rid of all the evidence in the basement. It has long been a burning obsession, with generations of the living proclaiming her guilt and forever talking about how they think she did it. On the tour we took in 2010, the guide went through the scenario on how Lizzie killed her parents, as we were taken through each room).
(Now imagine experiencing a horrific incident, or knowing some vital information about it, and not doing the right thing afterward, not having the character and courage to do so. The Borden’s maid, Bridget Maggie Sullivan, was a young Irish immigrant, in her twenties, who somehow had the funds to leave town, on a maid’s salary, and relocate to Montana. HMMMMM. What did Maggie know and when did she know it?).
General Paranormal Occurrences
Former owners, The McGinns, and present-day owners of this stately, yet plain home have had some experiences.
Lights with minds of their own, turning on and off.
The owners have been in rooms, and in front of them, wall switches would flick on their own and turn on the lights.
When no one is upstairs, on the second and third floors, the McGinns and their staff hear doors open and close, followed by footsteps.
They have been seen, especially on the staircase going down to the main hallway, and walking into other rooms of the house.
Owners of the home have seen shadow people move around different parts of the house.
Sometimes staff and guests can feel someone brush against them on the stairs. and in various parts of the home.
Disembodied voices have been heard as well.
Owner Leanne Wilbur once felt the cold touch of a finger run down her back. When she quickly turned around, no one was visible.
The Spirit of Mr. Andrew Borden
Death hasn’t given him any redeeming virtues.
He has occasionally tried to bully the docents, but stops when the they confront him about his behavior.
(Kindred Spirits: Season 2, Episode 3)
Mad About his Murder
His spirit is still seething that his life was so brutally taken from him.
He has found some comfort that the living have been bringing things to light.
Makes the Best of It
He enjoys watching the tours and paranormal investigations in the home, and has started to answer EVP questions.
He goes about his business, what he used to do while alive.
The Spirit of Mrs. Abby Borden
She mourns her death, and regrets marrying Andrew.
Poignant cries are heard in the room where she was killed, now called The John Morse Room.
She Makes the Best of it
She loves to take a rest on the bed in the John Morse Room.
An indentation of a body on the room’s bed was discovered by a staff member, like someone had just laid on top of it, one month after renovations and refurnishing the home was complete.
An older woman with gray hair has been seen happily puttering around the home, busy with her affairs.
If she couldn’t enjoy herself here while alive, now she can in her afterlife.
The Spirit of Lizzie Borden
An apparition of a woman, who looks like Lizzie has been seen down in the basement, looking around perhaps fervently being sure that she disposed of all the evidence.
Her spirit spends most of her time at her refuge, Maplecroft. (Kindred Spirits: Season 3, Episode 10)
The Spirit of Maggie’s Cat
A disembodied cat’s meows have been heard.
The cat is still friendly, and rubs up against people it likes in the second and third floor bedrooms.
The Spirit of Bridget Sullivan
She is still trying to say what really happened: the truth.
An EVP recording, captured by D’Agostino: Horrified scream: “Ma’am come quick!!”
Did she find the body of Abby, Andrew or both?
Unseen and Seen
Cold spots are reported in Maggie’s room.
The apparition of a woman dressed in maid’s clothes is seen doing her chores around the house.
The Spirits of Two Children
They once lived here and died too early.
Both spirits have been seen by the living, in various parts of the house.
They have been heard playing marbles.
The owners and guests have had many personal experiences with the resident spirits.
A lot of evidence has been caught by various paranormal investigators.
Photos of misty human forms have been taken in the living room, where Andrew Borden was hacked to death.
In 2007, a paranormal group member saw with her own eyes the moving of the camera, turning toward them, the second time it happened,.
EVPs have been caught on recording devices. EVPs of the spirits of Lizzie and Bridget “Maggie” Sullivan were caught on digital recorders. On an episode of Ghost Lab, the investigators got an interesting EVP. When asked the question, “Did Lizzie kill you for your money?” A male voice answered, “YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!”
In a YouTube video, what looks like the apparition of Andrew Borden is pointed out in a crime scene photo, located on the far left, looking at his own body.
A big yes indeed is in order.
The whole spectral gang is still there, stuck in their feelings. The spirits of Andrew and Abby mourn their murders, and are upset about how they died. Abby regrets even marrying Andrew.
Maggie’s spirit regrets not telling what she knew and can’t rest until she does.
Lizzie’s spirit probably splits her time between her sanctuary, Maplecroft, and her home, where she checks to make sure there is nothing in the basement to connect her to the murders.
The spirit of Maggie’s kitty doesn’t hold grudges, and is as friendly as ever.
92 Second Street
Fall River, Massachusetts 02721
This small Victorian home can be found near the 195 freeway. Take South Main St. to Spring St./Turn left onto second St./House is down on the right of the street, just before second Street turns into Borden St.
- Kindred Spirits episode: Season 3, Episode 10
- The Search for Lizzie Borden (https://www.travelchannel.com/shows/kindred-spirits/episodes/the-search-for-lizzie-borden)
- Kindred Spirits episode: Season 2, Episode 3: The Legacy of Lizzie Bordenhttps://www.travelchannel.com/shows/kindred-spirits/episodes/borden-house-encounters
- HAUNTED PLACES: The National Directory
By Dennis William Hauck
- HAUNTED MASSACHUSETTS
By Thomas D’Agostino
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
- Tour of Lizzie Borden’s Bed and Breakfast – 2010
- “Lizzie Borden Forensics” on YouTube
- “Lizzie Borden – Sightings” on YouTube
- “Arnold Brown’s Theory of the Lizzie Borden Case” on YouTube
- Lizzie Borden B & B Museum web site
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr