MENTAL ILLNESS

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MENTAL ILLNESS

Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 3:40 pm

I have always felt that Lizzie did commit the murders, and suspect that Bridget probably knew what had happened, and even helped clean Lizzie up and possibly helped her dispose of any bloody garments. With that established, the remaining question is WHY? Why did Lizzie murder Abby and Andrew?

Let's start back at the beginning. Lizzie's mother, Sarah, was known to have had "peculiar spells" and "fits of anger" by many witness accounts. I don't know that Emma ever gave out any information on her mothers mental state, though she was old enough to have witnessed any spells or fits of anger when she was a child, and most likely would have remembered them. "Peculiar spells" and "fits of anger" sounds to me as though Sarah may very well have suffered from bi-polar disorder, which would have been unknown and undiagnosed back then. My ex-husband, my brothers ex-wife, my cousins ex-girlfriend, and my oldest sons girlfriend all suffered from bi-polar disorder, so I am extremely familiar with it and how it affects the sufferer. From the outside, the bi-polar person appears to be a charming and delightful person. But the people who live with them tell a very different story. The mood swings, the unprovoked anger, the total unpredictability of what is going to happen at any given time, and often the rage and violence...this is what the family sees. Myself, my brother, my cousin, and my son all experienced physical attacks by the bi-polar person. What went on in Andrew's marriage to Sarah we don't know, but it probably was not a very happy union if Sarah was bi-polar.

Bi-polar disorder is very often hereditary, and it's very likely that Lizzie also suffered from it, from all accounts of her personality. Emma seems to have been a very passive person, although she may have disliked Abby and seen her as an interloper because she loved her mother and didn't want to see her replaced. She may have been aware that Andrew was not happy with Sarah, and he was happy with Abby...and disliked her on those grounds.

Lizzie most likely didn't remember her mother, and probably accepted Abby, though she may have been influenced by Emma's attitude toward Abby. It's very apparent that she loved her father, and probably saw Abby as a mother figure. In fact, she did refer to her as "mother" for a very long time.

Blended families were common in those days, due to the high mortality rate, so Abby having 2 stepdaughters was not unusual. By all accounts, Andrew and Abby were happy. Although Andrew was described as "tightfisted" with his money, Abby may have been a very frugal person herself, and not found Andrew's attitude about finances unusual.

But we also have Lizzie. Andrew obviously adored Lizzie, and Abby may have been very fond of her as well, having raised her since she was a young child. But let's suppose that Lizzie did inherit her mothers bi-polar disorder. The description of her as a child, being quiet, withdrawn, and lacking in confidence, would fit the diagnosis. Although she did blossom as an adult and was more involved with people and activities. But her bi-polar disorder would probably have been progressing as well, and Andrew and Abby would have found her increasingly more difficult to handle. Andrew seems to have gone to great lengths to placate Lizzie and keep her happy. However, at some point, he may have realized that Lizzie was just not going to get any better and was, in fact, getting worse. He had made the statement to others that that particular summer he was not going over to Swansea because of trouble in the family. He and Abby may have come to the conclusion that Lizzie was going to have to be "put away", and Andrew had reluctantly decided to do just that.

Emma, being Lizzie's sister, may have wanted no parts of having Lizzie committed, and went on an extended visit while Andrew handled things at home. That may have accounted for Andrew asking Emma how he would be able to get in touch with her if anything happened. He probably anticipated problems in carrying out his plans.

Enter Uncle John. As Sarah's brother and Lizzie's uncle, Andrew may have summoned him to Fall River, feeling that he would need help and Uncle John was the person who could best help him getting Lizzie where she needed to go. He probably anticipated he could not do it alone, and didn't think Abby would be able to help him, so Uncle John was summoned. Although both he and Uncle John had to have a cover story for why he was there so Lizzie's suspicions would not be raised.

In the meantime, everyone was getting sick...most likely food poisoning from the fish...but Abby was probably so keyed up over the whole impending thing, that she feared Lizzie knew what was about to happen and was trying to kill everyone.

Unfortunately for everyone, it seems Lizzie did suspect something was amiss...she even stated that to Alice Russel the night before the murders. She just didn't come out and say "Alice, I'm mentally ill and I think Father is going to have me committed and Uncle John is here to help him". I would imagine Lizzie was in a state when she went back home, and then found Andrew, Abby, and Uncle John in the sitting room in the dark talking. Who knows what she overheard them saying. She may have concluded that tomorrow was THE DAY, and become panic stricken. The next morning, she KNEW she had to do something, even commit murder, to avoid being committed to a mental institution for the rest of her life. So she took action. Abby signed her death warrant when she sent Bridget out to wash the windows and she was left alone with Lizzie. Once Abby was killed, and Lizzie was cleaned up, she just had to wait for Andrew to come back home. She wasn't able to get Bridget out of the house, but at least she did get her upstairs and out of the way. Then she killed Andrew. Bridget possibly found her, helped her clean up and dispose of the murder weapon and hide the clothes she wore, and then was sent out to sound the alarm. Uncle John was due back for lunch, and it's a good possibility that he and Andrew were scheduled to attend to Lizzie that afternoon. I would imagine once he got back and realized what had happened, it was quite a shock. But at the same time, he might not have been surprised. What is so interesting is that he and Emma never breathed a word of Andrew's intentions of having Lizzie committed. Lizzie probably knew Emma would not try to have her committed, and Uncle John would probably go away quietly. If she could just keep Bridget quiet..all might be well. Bridget cooperated, Emma and Uncle John kept their silence, and Lizzie was acquitted. Most likely Emma tried to remain with Lizzie as long as she could afterwards, but in the end she had to leave.
I have pondered and pondered the case, and considered what would have driven Lizzie to murder. She never murdered again...but then no one else tried to have her committed! No matter what the conditions in the French Street house, Emma was not going to make the same mistake of trying to get Lizzie committed. She left. Left alone, Lizzie may have been able to function just fine.
Of course, all this is just my opinion.
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Postby Smudgeman » Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:48 pm

Very interesting post. I have to admit I have entertained the idea that the Bordens were planning to send Lizzie "away", I don't know where, a mental institution, a clinic, a nunnery? Maybe they did ask Emma to visit some friends, so she would not be around to comfort her poor sister that needed some help. Maybe Morse was asked to help as well, and Lizzie overheard them talking. After all, she did say their conversations "annoyed her." Something was about to happen, and Lizzie was not having ANY of it!
I do also think Bridget walked right into a situation that she wanted no part of, so she did what she had to do to get the hell OUT of there as quickly as possible.
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:58 pm

It's a great theory. Dr. Bowen may even have been in favor of a sanatarium, and felt guilty he had not taken more aggressive steps to keep Lizzie under a more watchful eye and guard. I wonder if Marion had any sanatariums at the time? She may have been away longer than just a fishing trip! Mental disorders carried such a stigma at the time- it would have been kept quiet. Maybe her symptoms had progressed to something more alarming than kleptomania!
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:09 pm

Here's a great site about historic asylums- including one which was new and luxurious right in Taunton. Hmm- maybe that carriage and driver had come with a net to take poor Lizzie away! The 1975 movie hints that Emma always had had to "look after and watch over" Lizzie.

http://www.historicasylums.com/

The Taunton asylum: http://www.rootsweb.com/~asylums/taunton_ma/index.html
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Postby snokkums » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:30 pm

It could explain Lizzie's peculiar behaivor. And why she couldn't get her alibi straight as to where she was what she was doing. It has also been suggested maybe she had a mild form epelitic.
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:35 pm

Victoria Lincoln seemed to think so- and mentioned Sarah Morse had peculiar "turns" as well as the defense having that whole Ladowick (Ladwig) Borden's wife homicide-suicide deal all ready to go.
Poor people are crazy, well-to-do ladies are just eccentric and "peculiar" until they become dangerous. Then they get farmed out somewhere quietly in the country. Maybe John and Andrew and Abby were talking about it Thursday night and Lizzie overheard upstairs. Possibly John agreed, and may have planned to be a part of conveying Lizzie to Taunton that Thursday or maybe Friday morning. It may explain also why he did not seem stunned to hear the news when he returned to the house that Thursday at noon! The theft of Abby's possessions in the not-too-distant past was surely a wake-up call that things were escalating to a danger level. The 1890 trip abroad may have been suggested as therapeutic, and her church work and little side trips with harmless spinsters a sort of method of keeping her occupied and diverted and away from home.
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 7:51 pm

I do have a feeling that if she had been found guilty, Emma, Uncle John, and Lizzie's lawyers would have played the insanity card...and gotten her locked away in an institution. Maybe the reason Emma and Uncle John kept quiet about the whole plan to have her committed was that that would have given a motive for the murders. I'm sure they didn't want to see her go to jail, or even worse, executed. As I recall, after everything was over, Uncle John washed his hands of the whole affair and left for good. And Emma tried to watch over her as best she could. Now Lizzie had the money, a new home, and total freedom to do as she wished. I'm sure Emma, being the reclusive mouse that she was, disapproved of Lizzie's extravagant activities. And Lizzie's bi-polar spells would now be directed entirely at Emma. I'd love to know what Emma told, was it Reverend Buck, about the goings-on at home and how she could not tolerate it. Remembering the fate of Abby and Andrew, Emma may have become deathly afraid of Lizzie and what she may do to her if she suspected Emma might be up to the same tricks Abby and Andrew were. Once Emma was gone, Lizzie was probably more confident that she was secure. Obviously, her staff would not try to have her committed. And who knows, as she got older, passed menopause, her mental state could have improved.
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Postby Elizabelle » Sun Aug 20, 2006 8:08 pm

That is a very interesting, intriguing, and VERY PLAUSIBLE theory.

That you so much for sharing it with us. :smile:
LIZZIE BORDEN'S THEME SONG
(to the tune of Green Acres)

Fall River is the place to be,
city living is the life for me.
Bought a nicer house,
so big and wide!
Forget 92 Second Street,
that's where I was charged with homicide!
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 8:26 pm

I did forget Lizzie's alleged attempt to buy prussic acid. She may very well have initially planned to poison Andrew and Abby....but when she could not obtain it, that plan went awry. I don't think Lizzie had any intention of letting herself be "put away". The facinating thing about bi-polar suffers is that they really don't think there is anything wrong with them! As far as they are concerned, everyone else has a problem, and they see themselves as a victim.

In Lizzies mind, she was the victim, she had been treated unjustly all her life not only by her father, but by Abby as well, and now they were planning to put HER away. That was intolerable. There was nothing wrong with her. Her fits of anger and mood swings were brought on by THEM. THEY were the reason she acted the way she did. Now they were planning to have her committed, Emma had deserted her, and Uncle John had arrived, most likely to assist Andrew and Abby in their plot. Things were getting desperate. She tried going to Alice Russell, beating around the bush and voicing her fears that something was about to "happen". Alice probably casually dismissed her fears and Lizzie left in an even worse state.

It probably would have been more surprising if Abby and Andrew had NOT been killed, rather than they were.

It has escaped me, but did Lizzie try to purchase the prussic acid before or after Emma left on her trip?
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:38 pm

After Emma left and had been gone 2 weeks in Fairhaven she tried to buy poison Wednesday August 3rd at about 10:45 a.m..

I always thought it interesting that her bosom companion in later years was Helen Leighton - a nurse who may have understood and sympathized with Lizzie's peculiarities. I also thought there must be a reason men stayed away in droves. Probably they realized she was peculiar after one meeting and could have been afraid it may have been hereditary-thus tainting Emma too. I believe Nance and Lizzie were friends for only a year, a big age difference between them as well. I have always felt Nance used Lizzie to pay some debts and amuse her friends with her infamous buddy. Perhaps Fall River did not want her hanged and found guilty because they did know she was "not quite right" in the head.
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Postby doug65oh » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:44 pm

If I recall correctly the alleged attempt to purchas the prussic acid at Smiths was on or about 3 August, within 24 hours of the murders.

Emma I'm a bit rusty on, but it seems to me that she had gone to Fairhaven - aha! strike that...on the day in question, Emma by her own account had been away from Second Street for two weeks. (Volume 2, pg 1550 of the trial transcript.)

(I should really learn to type faster!! :wink:)
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:44 pm

Shelley @ Sun Aug 20, 2006 6:35 pm wrote:Victoria Lincoln seemed to think so- and mentioned Sarah Morse had peculiar "turns" as well as the defense having that whole Ladowick (Ladwig) Borden's wife homicide-suicide deal all ready to go.
Poor people are crazy, well-to-do ladies are just eccentric and "peculiar" until they become dangerous. Then they get farmed out somewhere quietly in the country. Maybe John and Andrew and Abby were talking about it Thursday night and Lizzie overheard upstairs. Possibly John agreed, and may have planned to be a part of conveying Lizzie to Taunton that Thursday or maybe Friday morning. It may explain also why he did not seem stunned to hear the news when he returned to the house that Thursday at noon! The theft of Abby's possessions in the not-too-distant past was surely a wake-up call that things were escalating to a danger level. The 1890 trip abroad may have been suggested as therapeutic, and her church work and little side trips with harmless spinsters a sort of method of keeping her occupied and diverted and away from home.


Not only did Uncle John not seem surprised to find out what had occurred, but Emma seemed to have taken her time getting back home as well. Possibly getting her thoughts in order first? She certainly didn't rush into the house, exclaiming "Lizzie, Lizzie! What happened? Who could have done this horrible thing?!!" Emma probably had a pretty good idea of who did it, and why. I'm not sure if Bridget had gotten wind of the plan...most likely not. That old adage of "not in front of the servants" might have applied in this situation, as Abby and Andrew would not have wanted Bridget leaking any information to Lizzie. Emma could probably be trusted not to say anything, and may have also felt it was time something was done with Lizzie, but at the same time she didn't want to be part of it.

Another curious thing was Uncle John's insistence on getting the mail, and mailing his letter. It's possible the letter was to the institution where Lizzie was to have been committed, briefly explaining what had happened, and requesting silence from the doctor or whomever might have been involved. I would highly doubt the police would have thought to investigate as to whether or not Lizzie might have been scheduled to be "put away", and checked out various institutions in the vicinity. That particular scenario most likely never even occurred to them.
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:49 pm

Maybe Dr. Bowen was burning some committal papers in that fire in the stove- I believe 2 doctors and 2 family members had to agree on committal to an institution. What more natural than Uncle John, as Sarah was dead? Andrew also took some papers into the diningroom and looked at them before going upstairs to his room. When he returned he was soon dispatched! Maybe Emma could not bear to be there to see it- and naturally Abby, being a step parent might not want to be the one to sign-especially knowing that word was out Lizzie disliked her so much.
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:59 pm

Sal- I think we've got it! When do we publish? This sounds just as plausible to me as "Billy Borden"! :wink: In fact, knowing how much those Victorians kept family nuttiness hush-hush-it makes sense. My aunt was a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital in Maryland and I often went in with her, or to pick her up. One afternoon I was waiting for her to punch the time clock and had been sitting amicably chatting with a lovely young man, when suddenly he asked me "Have you seen my little red wagon?" He was socially nearly 99% functional -later my aunt said he was, poor man, looney as a bed bug. So, yes, one can fool a lot of the people for much of the time!
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:04 pm

Shelley @ Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:38 pm wrote:After Emma left and had been gone 2 weeks in Fairhaven she tried to buy poison Wednesday August 3rd at about 10:45 a.m..

I always thought it interesting that her bosom companion in later years was Helen Leighton - a nurse who may have understood and sympathized with Lizzie's peculiarities. I also thought there must be a reason men stayed away in droves. Probably they realized she was peculiar after one meeting and could have been afraid it may have been hereditary-thus tainting Emma too. I believe Nance and Lizzie were friends for only a year, a big age difference between them as well. I have always felt Nance used Lizzie to pay some debts and amuse her friends with her infamous buddy. Perhaps Fall River did not want her hanged and found guilty because they did know she was "not quite right" in the head.


So by the time Lizzie tried to buy the poison, she had, in her mind, been "abandoned" by Emma. Lizzie had also made a short trip herself, but had been restless and preoccupied, and returned home. She probably assumed that in her absence Abby and Andrew were making plans for her, so she figured she had probably better get back home and scope out the situation. Her plan to poison Andrew and Abby was foiled...and then Uncle John came on the scene. At that point, she made her infamous visit to Alice Russell, babbling about Fathers enemies, and her fears of what was going to happen.

As far as possible suitors for Emma and Lizzie, it may have been passed through the Fall River grapevine that their mother was not quite right, and the parents of young men who might have expressed an interest in Lizzie or Emma were quickly warned that there was "insanity" in their background which would not bode well for future children.

Nance probably was something of a "golddigger", and used Lizzie's money and notoriety to her benefit. Fall River probably did know that Lizzie most likely killed her parents, but also knew that she was mentally unbalanced. So while they did not want to see her executed, they also did not want to associate with her. Mental illness was a huge stigma back then. Of course, Lizzie did have friends, but as a whole, Fall River society did not accept her.
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:12 pm

Oh I agree- the poison plan was foiled because Abby ran crying "Poison" to Dr. Bowen early Thursday. He was concerned enough to cross the street later and check on Abby. I think Lizzie panicked and used something sure-fire to shut that up! Prepping Alice Russell Thursday night was just good insurance. What normal person stays in the house with a corpse, sends the only living person out of the house, then sends for an old spinster when the police station was the same distance away? Remember Alice used to live next door, and really knew Lizzie. It was also Alice who stayed in the house with Lizzie after the murder, and finally had to reluctantly spill the beans about the burned dress. Alice knew plenty I bet. She even went down in the cellar with Lizzie that night of the murder.

This may give all new meaning to "You've given me away, haven't you Emma"-that she reputedly said in jail. And what a galaxy of ministers and doctors hovering over her all throughout her ordeal- from August 4 right through the trial.
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:36 pm

And wouldn't you just die to know what it was that Adelaide said she saw in that house on the day of the murder that shocked her to the core? I also wonder just what Dr. Bowen REALLY gave Lizzie by way of drugs- and how often and how much!
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:48 pm

Shelley @ Sun Aug 20, 2006 9:49 pm wrote:Maybe Dr. Bowen was burning some committal papers in that fire in the stove- I believe 2 doctors and 2 family members had to agree on committal to an institution. What more natural than Uncle John, as Sarah was dead? Andrew also took some papers into the diningroom and looked at them before going upstairs to his room. When he returned he was soon dispatched! Maybe Emma could not bear to be there to see it- and naturally Abby, being a step parent might not want to be the one to sign-especially knowing that word was out Lizzie disliked her so much.


Obviously, some sort of papers had been burned in the stove that day, and Andrew did come home with a roll of papers in his hand. No one could ever explain what those papers were. When Andrew got home with the papers, he was probably curious about Abby's whereabouts, but he could have surmised she wanted to be spared the ordeal of Andrew and Uncle John possibly bodily removing Lizzie from the house and into the carriage to the mental institution. He probably assumed she had taken refuge at her sisters house. Bridget was probably still clueless at that point. Lizzie stated that he asked her where Mrs. Borden was, and she told him that she'd had a note that someone was sick. Andrew probably found this believeable, and figured Abby used that ruse to get away from the house for the day. It probably never occured to him that Lizzie knew what was happening. One note...while people said that Lizzie was a bad liar, I have found that bi-polar people are notorious liars, especially during one of their "spells". Lizzie probably threw off a casual "Oh, Mrs. Borden had a note to go out, that someone was sick" and Andrew realized that Abby had probably bailed out on him. Now Andrew had to wait for Uncle John to show up. He had seen him off that morning, and had made sure to loudly tell him "Come back for lunch, John", making sure that Lizzie was within earshot. Just a casual invite back for lunch. Nothing to worry about, Lizzie.

Lizzie may have helped Andrew settle in to rest, soothing him down, then ironing her hankies in the dining room to keep a sharp eye on him. She may have figured that Andrew may not be as easy to subdue as Abby had been and had to be taken by complete surprise. She had been successful in getting Bridget out of the way for the time being. Now it was time to take care of Andrew. In the heat, Andrew probably began dozing as he waited for John to return. Since Lizzie had changed out of the dress she wore to kill Abby, and she didn't want to waste precious time in changing clothes again, she probably grabbed Andrew's Prince Albert and put it on to cover herself from any blood. Once she was done, she took it off, balled it up, and stuffed it under Andrews head.

At that point, it's possible Bridget came downstairs, maybe having heard some odd noises, and found Lizzie. As Bridget stood there in shock and disbelief, Lizzie could have said "I had to do it, Bridget...they were going to commit me...you've got to help me" Briget had 2 choices...run...or stay and help Lizzie. Lizzie may even have threatened to blame Bridget. By the way....I suppose we never knew what BRIDGET wore that morning, do we? Could she have gotten blood on her own clothes, helping Lizzie clean up and dispose of the hatchet? I can imagine both girls scurrying back and forth, knowing Uncle John could return at any time. Bridget could have made sure Lizzie was totally clean from head to toe, perhaps changed her own dress, and followed Lizzie's orders to go for the doctor. In the meantime, Lizzie could have located the papers, stuffed them in the stove, and then waited by the door, when Mrs. Churchill spied her.
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:52 pm

Shelley @ Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:36 pm wrote:And wouldn't you just die to know what it was that Adelaide said she saw in that house on the day of the murder that shocked her to the core? I also wonder just what Dr. Bowen REALLY gave Lizzie by way of drugs- and how often and how much!


I've vaguely heard that about Adelaide...what was the story on that?

I'm sure Dr. Bowen kept Lizzie pretty well sedated. IF he was one of the ones who signed the committal papers, he may have been fearful that Lizzie knew of it...she had already committed 2 murders...why would she worry about a 3rd?
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Postby Shelley » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:56 pm

Just maybe that note that "someone was sick" was ABOUT Lizzie. Perhaps Abby had written it to a relative and Lizzie had intercepted it before it was sent. How about this:

Sarah- I cannot mind Little Abbie tomorrow as John and Andrew are taking Lizzie to Taunton. She is so sick, and after this past week, we realize we must send her away. Everyone will think she is up in Marion for a spell.

No wonder it was burnt in the stove.
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:10 pm

Shelley @ Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:56 pm wrote:Just maybe that note that "someone was sick" was ABOUT Lizzie. Perhaps Abby had written it to a relative and Lizzie had intercepted it before it was sent. How about this:

Sarah- I cannot mind Little Abbie tomorrow as John and Andrew are taking Lizzie to Taunton. She is so sick, and after this past week, we realize we must send her away. Everyone will think she is up in Marion for a spell.

No wonder it was burnt in the stove.


Didn't Dr. Bowen find a torn up note in the trash that he was trying to piece back together? When someone asked what it was, he replied "oh, nothing..just something, I think, about my daughter going through somewhere". At that point he quickly put it in the stove to burn, or did he put it in his pocket? I can't remember. Question is, why would a note about Dr. Bowens daughter be in the wastebasket of the Bordens kitchen? If Dr. Bowen did pocket the note, and put it back together at home, I wonder what it said? Of course, it could have been a grocery list, but why not just say "oh, it looks like a grocery list, and throw it back in the trash?
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Postby doug65oh » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:19 pm

The incident you're thinking of is recounted at pg 6 of the Witness Statements: "After leaving her, I went down in the kitchen where was Dr. Bowen, Asst. Fleet, Dr. Dolan, Bridget and several others. Dr. Bowen had scraps of paper in his hand, on which there was some writing. He and I spoke about them, and he tried to put some of them together. He said “it is nothing, it is something about, I think, my daughter going through somewhere.” If I recollect correctly, it was addressed to Emma; but about that I am not sure. The Doctor then said “it does not amount to anything”,
and taking tHe lid off the kitchen stove, he dropped the pieces in. There was very little fire in the stove,and the ashes which were on top looked as though paper had been burned there."
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:35 pm

I also remember a story about witnesses seeing a horse and buggy tied in front of the Borden house, and a young man waiting. Since Andrew had given up his horse and buggy, he obviously had to have some sort of conveyance to get Lizzie out of there. Perhaps he left that to Uncle John. Or maybe the hospital had sent a horse and buggy and maybe a doctor to bring Lizzie in, assuming Lizzie might have to be sedated to get her to the hospital. If he was coming from a distance, he might have gotten there before schedule and was waiting for Andrew. If he got tired of waiting and decided to leave and come back a bit later, he might have arrived back at the time the house was swarming with police and decided it would be prudent to check with the hospital and see what to do. I don't know if there were any public phones at that time. Or he may have decided to go back to the hospital and see what developed.

I believe Uncle John's urgent letter that had to be mailed was probably to the hospital asking for total silence in the matter. He faced a lynch mob in trying to get to the post office. What could possibly be that urgent that he risked life and limb to mail?
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Postby SallyG » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:37 pm

doug65oh @ Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:19 pm wrote:The incident you're thinking of is recounted at pg 6 of the Witness Statements: "After leaving her, I went down in the kitchen where was Dr. Bowen, Asst. Fleet, Dr. Dolan, Bridget and several others. Dr. Bowen had scraps of paper in his hand, on which there was some writing. He and I spoke about them, and he tried to put some of them together. He said “it is nothing, it is something about, I think, my daughter going through somewhere.” If I recollect correctly, it was addressed to Emma; but about that I am not sure. The Doctor then said “it does not amount to anything”,
and taking tHe lid off the kitchen stove, he dropped the pieces in. There was very little fire in the stove,and the ashes which were on top looked as though paper had been burned there."


Thank you, Doug...I knew it was something along those lines. And it may have been something totally insignificant. At any rate, we will never know.
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Postby Airmid » Mon Aug 21, 2006 2:00 am

SallyG @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:48 am wrote: By the way....I suppose we never knew what BRIDGET wore that morning, do we?


Bridget, Trial, page 335:

Q What dress did you have on that morning?
A I had a calico dress.
Q What color?
A Blue calico.
Q Blue calico?
A Yes, sir.
Q Did it have any figure on it?
A Yes, sir.
Q What kind of a figure?
A Well, it is what I call a clover leaf.
Q Would you call it a light blue or a dark blue?
A It was a dark blue, a dark indigo blue.
Q And was the clover leaf of white or dark color?
A White.
......
Q Did you keep it on all day?
A Yes, sir: until the afternoon.
Q Well, that is not all day?
A Well, I kept it on until I got a chance to change it, after all the fuss was over.


Then Bridget goes on to tell she put on a plain blue gingham dress, lighter than the one she had worn earlier, with white borders.

It's interesting that Phebe Bowen seems to describe Bridgets dress at the Trial (page 1587 and after) though she apparently did not so at the Preliminaries. Sorry for not quoting that testimony here, but it is spread out over several pages and that's a lot of typing! :wink:

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Postby Airmid » Mon Aug 21, 2006 2:29 am

SallyG @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 5:35 am wrote:I believe Uncle John's urgent letter that had to be mailed was probably to the hospital asking for total silence in the matter. He faced a lynch mob in trying to get to the post office. What could possibly be that urgent that he risked life and limb to mail?


Witness Statements, page 9 (Doherty & Harrington):

We were on guard at the house from 1. A. M. until 9. A. M. Friday. At one o’clock the house was all in darkness, and so remained all night. There was no noise until about 6.20 A. M. About 6.30 A. M. Mr. John Morse came to the side door, said “good morning”, and spoke about the weather. At 8.30 he came out, and going over to S. H. Miller’s, he called Bridget, who stayed there that night. He then went to the P. O., stopped about a minute, went out and crossed to Geo. E. Howe’s where he purchased a two cent stamp. He then returned to the P. O. and at 8.32 A.M. dropped a letter addressed to Wm. A. Davis So. Dartmouth. It bore the words “In haste”.

This is not the only time Morse went out on friday. We know he went out at least friday night around 8 too, when he was followed by a mob. He probably did go to the Post Office on that occasion, but no mention is made of him posting any more letters on that day.

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Postby snokkums » Mon Aug 21, 2006 6:34 am

From Shelly: "Maybe Dr. bowen ws burning some committal papers in that fire in the stove-- I believe 2 doctors and 2 family members had to agree on commmittal to an institution. What more natural choice than Uncle John, as Sarah was dead? Andrew also took some papers into the dining room and looked at them before going upstairs to his room. When he returned he was soon dispatched. Maybe Emma could not bear to be there to see it -- and naturally Abby, being the step parent, might not want to be the one to sign-- especialluy knowing word was out Lizzie disliked her so much.

Victoria Lincoln seemed to think so-- and mentioned Sarah Morse had peculiar 'turns' as well as the defense having that whole Ladowick [Ladwig] Bordens wife homicide - suicide deal ready to go.

Poor people are crazy, well-to-do people are just eccentric and 'peculiar' until they become dangerous. Then they get farmed out somewhere quietly in the country. Maybe John and Andrew and Abby were talking about it Thursday night and Lizzie overheard upstairs."

Reading this passage, I think maybe Lizzie might have planned to murder her parents. After all, she was upset already because Andrew was going to change his will supposedly, and well, if she is locked up in the luny bin, she gets squat. Or at best someone is in charge of her finances. And she did have alot of peculiar turns. I think her family was just tired of covering for her.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 6:46 am

I recall the scrap that was burned in the stove was seen to have the word "Emma" on it in the text, but not the address. With all that was going on, what an odd thing for Bowen to have been concerned with doing. The cylindrical shape still visible smoldering in the fire , which some have speculated was Andrew's will or some legal papers- may have been documents of committment indeed.

I always thought it odd Alice Russell was not only sent for immediately, but asked to stay with the family and bed down right next to Lizzie in her room that night in Andrew's room. It's not as if she were a relative. Alice is nearly like Lizzie's "keeper"-maybe Alice was trusted and could manage Lizzie.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:50 am

All this time we though the attorneys kept Lizzie off the stand because she was not a good liar and might crack or become temperamental. It may have been because it would become clear to the jury and all present after much cross examination that there was someting just a little "wrong" with her. She also had some of her home things brought to her cell in Taunton- and special food delivered-not your average prisoner. Maybe it was not just because she was a Borden.... the cell might have been for more of a "patient".
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Postby SallyG » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:04 am

Oh, I think Lizzie was an extremely good liar...especially during one of her "spells", which could last quite awhile.
I think Lizzie was kept off the stand for the exact reason you stated..it would be quite obvious that there was a "problem". They probably figured their best bet was to try and get her acquitted. Emma was probably willing to do everything she could to help Lizzie, and take care of her after the trial.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:56 am

She was quick on her feet, but not a consistent liar. It's always good to get a good story, then stick to it. I also believe when she could, she told most of the truth. Always better that way- safer too!
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Postby Elizabelle » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:44 am

I am totally, completely, and hopelessly in love with this thread!

This theory of mental illness and everyone's input about it has really got my wheels a turning.

This is all very plausible and makes a great deal of sense.

How I wish I could travel back in time, even if only for a minute, just to watch Lizzie Borden's mannerisms, the way she moved, carried herself, and spoke. Just one little minute would help the world get a better understanding of the mysterious Lizzie Borden.
LIZZIE BORDEN'S THEME SONG
(to the tune of Green Acres)

Fall River is the place to be,
city living is the life for me.
Bought a nicer house,
so big and wide!
Forget 92 Second Street,
that's where I was charged with homicide!
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:49 am

Children are always astute , if not merciful judges . Lizzie seemed to be a loner growing up, one or two trusted friends as a child. Not popular. Kids that are "different", odd, peculiar, whatever, are frequently shunned. Note the church work as well. If she had had social graces, and all her marbles- would they have shunted her off to teach Chinese Mission kids? Knowing how well-connected her Papa was in the business world, they usually would put such a daughter in a coveted and desired position at church.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:55 am

Another thought- why did Nance and Lizzie part company also? I can picture a conversation with some of Nance's theatre friends- "Good Lord, Nance- that woman is as nutty as a fruitcake! Surely we aren't trooping back to Fall River again this weekend?". Now picture Lizzie sitting on her back porch with a basket of peanuts feeding squirrels and crooning to her little dog Royal Nelson. Animals love us even when we are a little loopy!
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Postby SallyG » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:37 pm

Shelley @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:49 am wrote:Children are always astute , if not merciful judges . Lizzie seemed to be a loner growing up, one or two trusted friends as a child. Not popular. Kids that are "different", odd, peculiar, whatever, are frequently shunned. Note the church work as well. If she had had social graces, and all her marbles- would they have shunted her off to teach Chinese Mission kids? Knowing how well-connected her Papa was in the business world, they usually would put such a daughter in a coveted and desired position at church.


They probably put Lizzie in a church position where she could do something, but not be all that visible. As I understand, she had problems teaching them and became very upset.
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Postby SallyG » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:44 pm

Shelley @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:55 am wrote:Another thought- why did Nance and Lizzie part company also? I can picture a conversation with some of Nance's theatre friends- "Good Lord, Nance- that woman is as nutty as a fruitcake! Surely we aren't trooping back to Fall River again this weekend?". Now picture Lizzie sitting on her back porch with a basket of peanuts feeding squirrels and crooning to her little dog Royal Nelson. Animals love us even when we are a little loopy!


I doubt Nance saw Lizzie as a friend....I think she was just using her and when she didn't need her anymore, she didn't bother with her. What is interesting is that Lizzie could actually appear charming and totally normal to outsiders. That is typical bi-polar behavior. The closer you get to them, and the longer you are with them, their mood swings and outbursts begin to focus on you. Nance could have begun to experience Lizzies "bad side" and decided it was time to part company.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:50 pm

Oh I agree, Sally- Nance was young when they met and not yet a big gun on the stage. I have never bought into that Lizzie the Lesbian thing. Nance was sharp enough to see a way out of debt. Poor old Lizzie was taken advantage of there. Later on Nance was quoted as saying, "I have nearly always interpreted the unloved woman in the theatre, the woman crucified by the unseen, the conventional traditions . . . We are rebels because those who govern us, often — blindly, no doubt — betray us. The unloved woman is usually just such, the victim of some man too stupid to know the difference between heaven and earth." Maybe she had some sympathy and understanding for Lizzie and Lizzie's situation in the past and present as she was an unloved woman.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:15 pm

A pretty good accounting of Nance's career is found here
http://listing-index.ebay.com/actors/Nance_O'Neil.html
and a nice color tinted photo here:
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cg ... id=9564360
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Postby RayS » Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:40 pm

Is there any documentary proof for this speculation?
Then what is its purpose? I thought people in those days had to be pretty far gone to be institutionalized.
Keep in mind that "insane" in those days pretty much meant "suffering from the last stages of syphilis".
That's what any talk about "insanity in the family" meant. They would never use the S-word in polite society.

Also, I read that "bad breath" was the usual sign of syphilis. Think of all those ads for breath mints then or now. Or the older remedies.
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Postby RayS » Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:43 pm

I doubt Nance saw Lizzie as a friend....I think she was just using her and when she didn't need her anymore, she didn't bother with her. What is interesting is that Lizzie could actually appear charming and totally normal to outsiders. That is typical bi-polar behavior. The closer you get to them, and the longer you are with them, their mood swings and outbursts begin to focus on you. Nance could have begun to experience Lizzies "bad side" and decided it was time to part company.

I thought that Nance borrowed thousands from Lizzie and could not repay this loan. THAT would mean quite a lot to the thrifty New Englanders.
In other societies and groups, someone who borrowed and couldn't repay was a "deadbeat" and avoided.
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Postby RayS » Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:46 pm

Shelley @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:50 am wrote:All this time we though the attorneys kept Lizzie off the stand because she was not a good liar and might crack or become temperamental. It may have been because it would become clear to the jury and all present after much cross examination that there was someting just a little "wrong" with her. She also had some of her home things brought to her cell in Taunton- and special food delivered-not your average prisoner. Maybe it was not just because she was a Borden.... the cell might have been for more of a "patient".

Wrong, wrong, wrong!!! Lizzie was on remand, she was not a convict.
They may do things differently these days.
Lizzie's lawyer did the right thing. Lizzie wasn't guilty, so the best thing was to keep her off the stand given the complete lack of evidence against her. I'm not a lawyer, but I think I understand this case.
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Postby RayS » Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:47 pm

SallyG @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 1:37 pm wrote:
Shelley @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:49 am wrote:Children are always astute , if not merciful judges . Lizzie seemed to be a loner growing up, one or two trusted friends as a child. Not popular. Kids that are "different", odd, peculiar, whatever, are frequently shunned. Note the church work as well. If she had had social graces, and all her marbles- would they have shunted her off to teach Chinese Mission kids? Knowing how well-connected her Papa was in the business world, they usually would put such a daughter in a coveted and desired position at church.


They probably put Lizzie in a church position where she could do something, but not be all that visible. As I understand, she had problems teaching them and became very upset.

Maybe we didn't read the same books. I remember Lizzie as being on a Hospital Board and other groups. See Brown's book on this.
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Postby Harry » Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:53 pm

Thank you, SallyG for a most interesting post. It certainly is a plausible theory, better in fact than most of the books.

And thank you Shelley for your input!
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 5:02 pm

[quote="RayS @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:40 pm"]Is there any documentary proof for this speculation?
Then what is its purpose?
Of course there is no documentary proof- just about as much proof as that Billy Borden business, or Emma riding all night in men's clothes, or Lesbian Bridget or about a zillion more far-fetched proposals people have made a buck on. We are merely proposing alternative theories here, which is one purpose of this forum. Actually "insane" was pretty commonly bandied about such as the link I gave on historic asylums earlier. There was the asylum for insane children as one case in point. They did not have syphillis surely. I don't think we were contending Lizzie was a drooling maniac, just not "quite shuffling a full deck" as we used to say.

Kleptomania is not a sign of a healthy mind- there is that evidence as recently as the Tilden and Thurber episode with the stolen porcelain plaque. That the defense had churned up that bit about her mother's spells and Mrs. Ladowick Borden's suicide/homicides and had that at the ready might indicate that they thought the jury in a pinch might buy the notion of a "mentally disturbed" Lizzie if all else went wrong. She was not popular with her peers, never could a romantic suitor be found, in spite of all her Poppa's money, and she felt comfortable with her animals and one or two trusted friends, to whom she left her money.

These things separately may not be all that odd, but collectively add up to someone who was more than just a social maladroit. Lizzie's real mother asked Emma to "always look after Lizzie"- and that could be taken a number of ways. Breaking into Abby's room, mistreating Abby's relatives, all may be pretty tame things to do to a step parent , but not terribly adult at age 30 or well-balanced. If we are to believe Eli Bence, trying to buy Prussic acid sounds a little deranged too in my book :lol:
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Postby Allen » Mon Aug 21, 2006 5:58 pm

SallyG @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:44 pm wrote: I doubt Nance saw Lizzie as a friend....I think she was just using her and when she didn't need her anymore, she didn't bother with her. What is interesting is that Lizzie could actually appear charming and totally normal to outsiders. That is typical bi-polar behavior. The closer you get to them, and the longer you are with them, their mood swings and outbursts begin to focus on you. Nance could have begun to experience Lizzies "bad side" and decided it was time to part company.


I would like to point out this is not "typical" bi-polar behavior. Yes people suffering from bi-polar can possess these traits and characteristics. But to say that it's "typical" behavior implies that all of us do. There are verying degrees of the illness. I certainly am not violent, I don't attack people, and I've certainly never wanted to murder anyone. I'm being painted as an ugly person without anyone even realizing it, so I thought I'd take a minute to point that out.
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Postby theebmonique » Mon Aug 21, 2006 6:09 pm

I really thought those traits were typical of what you may see with bipolar patients. I agree they may not appear that way in ALL cases, but they certainly seem typical in the cases I have been acquainted with.





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Postby Kat » Mon Aug 21, 2006 9:03 pm

This saga is very interesting and entertaining. It's a good combination of give and take and taking a good idea and running with it to see where it goes.
However, not to be a party pooper, there are some issues that should be dealt with, such as sources. Broad, or sweeping statements can get one carried away. The statements made should be able to be backed up with sources to have any validity. Otherwise it's fiction.

Some of these can be toned down and still be valid- like when one says "Andrew obviously adored Lizzie."
Or "Andrew seems to have gone to great lengths to placate Lizzie." If one wishes to give multiple sources to prove the depth or breadth of statements such as these, then they can use this kind of phrasing. I suggest tho, that just by toning it down a notch, one could get away with a more sedate version and not really need a source. I hope that makes sense. It would still have value, but not be over-the-top.

When we "start back at the beginning" about Lizzie's mother there are quotes around the phrases "peculiar spells" and "fits of anger" and the source seems to be "by many witness accounts." If this is the foundation of the theory presented here, one should be ready to show the source for that, especially when quotes are used.

Another place this shows up is the extreme statement: "from all accounts of her personality, Emma seems to have been a very passive person..."- The problem lies in the sweeping stateent "from all accounts."
Also:
"It's very apparent she [Lizzie] loved her father," another sweeping statement. It's not that very apparent, unless you show us.

"He [Andrew] had made the statement to others that that particular summer he was not going over to Swansea because of trouble in the family."-- there is, I think, one person who says this- but "others" makes it sound like common knowledge- this would need a source. If this were closer to *he had made the statement to another* then it could be be in better balance without much controversy.
Maybe it is the sense of exaggeration that is not needed?

Twice here also, there has been the mild error of stating that Lizzie went to Alice Russell's on Thursday evening. We know it was Wednesday evening, and this is just to point that out to readers who may not know.

Alice Russell did not describe Lizzie as "babbling" that Wednesday night. What Andrew was espied as having in his hands when he arrived home was considered as a book or a package or paper, but not " a roll of papers in his hand."

Trial, Bridget:
Q. Did you see whether he had anything or not?
A. He had a little parcel in his hand, same as a paper or a book; I can't tell what it was.
- - -
Mrs. Dr. Kelley
Prelim
209
Q. Did he have anything in his hand at that time?
A. I think he had a small white package?
- - - -
The statement that Andrew said " 'Come back for lunch, John' , making sure that Lizzie was within earshot," is specualtion. Bridget was the one within earshot that we know of. Lizzie claimed not to have come down before Morse left. She makes a point of not coming down until Morse leaves, so it must be important. However, if Morse and Bridget back up what Lizzie may say, then we are at loose ends. I am of the opinion that after Andrew left we do not know what happened in that house.

As for the horse and equipage parked outside the house, it was maintained here that there were "witnesses" who saw this, but we had recently had the discussion where we showed that one person gave testimony about seeing the parked conveyance.

At the last page of The Witness Statements, 46, it says, by McHenry:
" I also elicited the fact that one George Wiley, a clerk in the Troy Mill is the one who is authority for the statement that Mrs. Churchill made that she (Mrs. Churchill) said, that there was one thing she saw in the house the day of the murder, that she would never repeat, even if they tore her tongue out."
It's a great quote, but we need to keep in mind it is by McHenry who is a questionable source and it is supposedly Churchill to Wiley to McHenry, if that.

This is an enjoyable topic, the energy is good and the flow is very nice- plesae excuse a word of caution here.

I haven't read page 2 yet! You guys are fast. :smile:
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:07 pm

I don't pretend to know anything about bi-polarism, nor do I suggest that Lizzie suffered from it. I expect I have read all the same documents and books and theories everyone else has here. I do think the idea that Lizzie suffered from some disorder is not a new one-it is even suggested in the 1975 film.

It was rather fun exploring this possibility-as it is in all theories where proof positive at this late date may be hard to come by. For those who want facts and dismiss light-hearted "thinking out loud"- well , that can also be done.


Witness statement- John Fleet:
"Had a conversation with Bridget Sullivan, Said she saw Mr. Borden come in the house about 10:40 a.m. Said saw him come into the dining room, go to the window and look at some papers which he had in his hands".
I was not refering to the lock wrapped in a scrap of paper- but the papers mentioned above.

Harrington & Doherty-Witness statements:
"There was very little fire in the stove and the ashes which were on top looked as though paper had been burned there".

This theory which we have been having a good time expanding does suggest explanations for many of the tricky bits other solutions have not been able to encompass- like an enormous jigsaw puzzle where some pieces look as if they may fit a new way.
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Postby Shelley » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:36 pm

I suspect the New York Herald colored many opinions about Lizzie with these word, some facts which must have been fed to the reporter by an insider:
"Mr. Morse admitted that there had been ill feeling between Mrs. Borden and her step-daughters but he would not discuss that matter further. Lizzie he said was a peculiar girl, often given to fits of sullenness....The Borden household must have been a rather grim sort of a place. Mr. Borden himself, though perfectly respectable and upright was not particularly cheerful, and between his wife and stepdaughters there was open war. The elder daughter, Emma, is described as of a mild and gentle disposition, but there was little mildness about Lizzie.

Her own mother died in giving birth to her and she has been odd all her life. She grew up to be much of a recluse. She is far from homely, though not particularly handsome, but she never had a lover, she has avoided the company of young men and has never gone into society. She has her defenders, .who say she has an amiable disposition. The allegations to the contrary may be mere ill natured gossip.

One thing is certain. She has wonderful self-possession. When with Dr. Bowen she stood by her father's body, when her mother was discovered murdered, at the time of the funeral, and on all other occasions since this story began she has manifested, they say, almost unshaken calmness. She is a masculine looking woman, with a strong, resolute, unsympathetic face. She is robustly built; thirty three years old and of average height. Her voice has a peculiar guttural harshness. Her hair is brown ,and long, her eyes brown and steady. Her self-possession is expressed in her looks. I do not think she it; afraid of many things. She must know that she is under constant police espionage and suspicion, but there is nothing in her appearance to show that she is concerned about it. She declined today to make any statement about her case. "
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Postby SallyG » Mon Aug 21, 2006 10:52 pm

RayS @ Mon Aug 21, 2006 4:40 pm wrote:Is there any documentary proof for this speculation?
Then what is its purpose? I thought people in those days had to be pretty far gone to be institutionalized.
Keep in mind that "insane" in those days pretty much meant "suffering from the last stages of syphilis".
That's what any talk about "insanity in the family" meant. They would never use the S-word in polite society.

Also, I read that "bad breath" was the usual sign of syphilis. Think of all those ads for breath mints then or now. Or the older remedies.


Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!, Ray. My grandfather was judged insane by his doctor because he suffered from extreme panic attacks, and was scheduled to be institutionalized at age 42. He committed suicide before they had a chance to take him away! Today it is politically incorrect to use the word "insane". We have many diagnoses for many different mental illnesses.

By the way, Ray, what is your documentary proof that insane in those days meant suffering from the last stages of syphilis?
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