Judging from the amount of “views” to my Lizzie Borden blog post a couple years back, people are relatively interested in her story. So I thought I’d add just a few more facts in case people want more info.Here’s one thing that jumped out at me—Lizzie’s biological mother, who died when Lizzie was 2, was prone to fits of unexplained rage and suffered from migraines. Of course at this period of time (1845) we knew very little about psychology. Freud, the father of psychology, wasn’t even born yet. That being the case, we can’t really know what caused these symptoms, whether it was physical or psychological. If it was physical, such as a brain tumor, that would explain the migraines, the temper and Sarah’s death. In that case, there’d be no link to Lizzie, as there’s no indication that she suffered from migraines.
One thing we do know is that earlier in the summer of 1892 (the murders occurred in August) Andrew reported that his house was robbed. Lizzie, her sister, Emma, and their maid were home at the time. Andrew reported that the thief must have slipped past them up to Abby Borden’s bedroom, stole some jewelry and about 40 dollars. It occurred in broad daylight, without anyone having seen the thief. A short time later, Andrew asked the police to drop the investigation, and the case was never solved.
What do you think? Mental illness? Building rage due to a terribly dysfunctional family? Or was there another culprit and Lizzie is actually innocent, though suspected because of her odd behavior?
Info from Lizzie Borden: A case book of family and crime in the 1890’s, Joyce G. Williams, J. Eric Smithburn, M.Jeanne Peterson
and from a tour of the property: http://www.lizzie-borden.com/
Did he suspect Lizzie of the theft? Did Lizzie actually steal the money and items? Or was there a thief, who possibly came back later and killed Abby and Andrew Borden? Questions, questions, questions. If only we had a time machine and could send a couple good detectives and a crime scene investigation team back. Lacking that, all we can do is speculate. Which is sort of fun in itself.
If, however, it was a psychological illness that had some genetic component, Lizzie may have inherited it, which may have contributed to the death of Andrew and Abby Borden, (assuming Lizzie did kill them—legally, she did not). Certainly the woman was an odd duck. She had a penchant for staring in such a way as to make people uncomfortable. Those who knew her believed it was an attempt to establish control. She was also known for petty thefts, although never charged. Storekeepers and the like would merely go to Andrew, who would pay for whatever trinket Lizzie took. A sign of mental illness, or just a way for Lizzie to get what she wanted when the $4 a week allowance her father gave her didn’t cover it?