Fall River Massachusetts
Lizzie Borden House
There are spirits here who are angry, some are guilty, and some are missing their life.
People and animals who are brutally murdered sometimes are emotionally stuck.
One spirit appears to be in its own private hell…
The Lizzie Borden B and B is a small 1845 Greek Revival Victorian home that is rectangular, 2 story, dark green, plain clap board on the outside, with the customary cellar and attic. Its windows are adorned with green shutters. From the sidewalk, one can feel a creepiness in its aura.
The bed and breakfast is charming and well-run, and feels like the spirits are restless, as an uneasiness 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. It was not a happy home life. Andrew was bit of an odd duck to start with, what we would call a control freak with a mean attitude, and several personal issues; someone who shouldn’t have children. One of his issues is the fear of losing vast wealth. Though he became a banker, 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. The family 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 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 step-mother. Abby was stuck in a marriage of convenience for years, to a pill of a man, and saddled with the responsibility of raising two step-daughters 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, reports that an unbalanced young man who claimed to be Andrew’s illegitimate son, William, shows up late in the game and demands 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 the supposed illegitimate son, 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 had a guest the night before, the late Sarah’s brother, John Morse, another odd person, with peculiar reactions. Sometime between 9 and 10, in the guest bedroom, 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 crumbled face down on the floor, next to the bed. Her killer finishes her off by either straddling her body, or sitting on her back, to deliver the other 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 fell 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 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 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 step-mother, while William did in who he thought was his birth father, Andrew Borden. William didn’t handle rejection well. Or, 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 is 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 3 first degree murder counts: for her father, her step-mother and another murder charge added for killing both of Andrew and Abby. After a 10 day circus trial, Lizzie was found not guilty because of a lack of hard evidence, tying her to the crimes, and 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 12 men that the timid, demure, obedient woman, Lizzie Borden, was capable of these vicious killings. Hindsight expressed by the Monday morning quarter-backing people in our 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 where 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 would 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 – Perhaps she heard the sounds of Abby’s vicious killing on the second floor above the first floor where she was washing windows. Sound travels in Victorian homes. If she did, she probably ran up the stairs to see what had happened. After agreeing to keep her mouth shut for money, she retreated 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. When her friend arrived, Maggie was feeling much better and thought better of revealing a truth, long kept hidden. She died without telling what she knew; perhaps damming evidence. She had to live with the guilt that she held back vital information, letting a killer/killers escape justice, and that she could’ve saved Andrew’s life if she had just acted.
3) Failed to follow up on clues: After receiving a rather odd letter from William, that sort of confessed to the crime, the police 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 8 years after the trial, suggesting that mental illness got the better of him, or perhaps a guilty conscience?
After spending 10 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. Lizzie and her sister Emma decided to rent out their family home, and move up to a more classy neighborhood, buying a mansion, that they called 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; traveling artists and performers, inviting them to stay at Maplecroft and perform for her. This didn’t sit well with Emma, who 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 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, the place of unsolved crimes was sold to a private family. The house was used as a private family home throughout the years, living with the problem of lookie-loos, wanting to see the scene of the crime. Since 1948, this home had been in the McGinn Family line. When the McGinns inherited the Borden home from a grandmother, they decided to take advantage of people’s 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, hoping to get members of the public to pay to stay and look around;Finding 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 the 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 grisly unsolved murders; hatchet killings of 70 year old Mr. Andrew Borden and his second wife, 64 year old Abby Borden. This infamous moment in history is the sole cause of 5 of the hauntings going on in this house.
People and animals who are brutally murdered and experience a painful end of life, have been known not to be able to let go of this world.
Before she was killed, Abby Borden had found their maid’s cat in the basement, with its head hacked off. Perhaps someone was practicing for the main event.
The grisly hatchet murder of Mr. Andrew Borden and his second wife, Abby Borden was a bloody and horrific way to die. Their mangled bodies were discovered on the day of their murders, on August 4th, 1892. Adding insult to injury, I wonder how the Bordens feel that both Lizzie, their likely killer, and Emma, who must have known something, were buried in the family grave site next to them. Andrew and Abby must feel a little better now, as the probable theory on how they were murdered is now part of a house tour of their home, that has been restored and furnished just the way they had it.
Guilt for wrong doing and for life’s mistakes can transform itself into an obsession, causing restlessness that keeps spirits in this world.
Lizzie’s version of what happened is being severely tested in this world, and the afterlife world. She seems to be stuck in her own hell, trying to be sure that she got rid of all the evidence in the basement, becoming a burning obsession, now that the living are proclaiming her guilt and telling how they think she did it. The tour we took in 2010, the tour guide went through the scenario on how Lizzie killed her parents, as we were taken through each room.
Huge life mistake would be: 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 had some experiences: The lights had a mind of their own, turning on and off. The owners would be in a room, and in front of them, the wall switch would flick and turn on the lights. When no one was upstairs on the second and third floors, the McGinns and their staff would hear the doors open and close, followed by footsteps.
Shadow people have been seen, especially on the staircase going down to the main hallway, and walking into the other parts 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. A shadow of a woman, and an actual apparition that looks like Lizzie has been seen down in the basement by all the owners, the staff and some guests as well. Disembodied voices have been heard as well. Owner Leanne Wilbur felt the cold touch of a finger run down her back. When she quickly turned around, no one was visible.
The entity of Mr. Andrew Borden
still seething that his life was so brutally taken from him. Finding some comfort that the living are bringing things to light.
Enjoys watching the activity in the home, and has started to answer evp questions.
Goes about his business, what he used to do while alive.
The entity of Mrs. Abby Borden
In the guest bedroom, now called 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.
Poignant cries are heard in here as well. An older woman with gray hair has been seen happily puttering around the home, busy with her affairs. If she couldn’t enjoy her life here while alive, now she can in the afterlife.
The entity of Lizzie Borden
An apparition of a woman, that looks like Lizzie has been seen down in the basement, looking around the basement, perhaps fervently being sure that she disposed of all the evidence.
The entity of Maggie’s cat
A disembodied cat’s meow is heard. This cat is still friendly, and rubs up against people it likes in the second and third floor bedrooms.
The entity of Bridget “Maggie” Sullivan
She is still trying to say what 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?) Cold spots are reported in Maggie’s room. An apparition of a woman dressed in maid’s clothes is seen doing her chores around the house.
Entities of two young children
Have been seen by the living, in various parts of the house. Have been heard playing marbles.
A big YES INDEED is in order.
It seems that the spirits are becoming more communicative, because of the encouragement of the owners and the living. All the attention being drawn to that horrible day in August has enticed the spirits to participate, perhaps to help the current owner, and get some peace in their restlessness.
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 second time it happened; The moving of the camera, that was turned toward them.
EVPs have been caught on recording devices. EVPs of the entities 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 the 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 body.
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.
- 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