The Evening Standard—Wed., August 10, 1892 Page 2
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The Police Place Confidence in
Nervous but Straightforward
Witness at Inquest.
Miss Borden’s Lawyer Refused
Permission to be Present.
Attorney-General Intimates He
Has a Strong Case.
“Police Officers Do Not Tell All
They Know,” He Says.
Instead of subsiding, the excitement in Fall River increases hourly. Yesterday it was at fever heat. In the afternoon, when the carriage was sent to the Borden homestead to convey Miss Lizzie and her friend to the station house, the news that the police had started on such an errand leaked out instantly. Business was suspended in the centre of the town, as it had been suspended on Thursday noon when the story of the tragedy was made known for the first time. What was there to see? A hack drawn by two horses, with two ladies on the back seat, and two officers in citizens’ dress on the front seat, but that appeared to be sufficient. Men on wagons saw the vehicle coming, and drove like mad for the entrance to the station. Men, women and children joined in a hasty scramble for the narrow alleyway, and once more Court square was choked in a twinkling.
It isn’t singular that the tension tightens. The community has reached a point where it feels that it must clear up the mystery or go insane. Men are again complaining that they go to bed with the murder on their brain, and that the same grim problem presents itself for solution the moment they open their eyes. It is the pace that kills, and for five days the pace has been furious.
Government’s Lips Sealed.
It looked all day yesterday as it looked the day before, namely, as if the end was approaching. The lips of the government are sealed, but the public knows that every thread has been wound up; that there are no loose ends hanging, and that a decision must be reached within 48 hours. Will the conclusions of the officials and the prosecuting attorney of the district warrant an arrest? Have they evidence enough in their possession to make them reasonably sure of a conviction in case they do arrest the suspected? They have reviewed and re-reviewed every detail; they have examined Bridget Sullivan for hours, and every word that she has uttered has been caught by a stenographer. They have prepared to interrogate Miss Lizzie Borden and to put her replies and statements on paper. As the situation now stands these witnesses are the only two people on the face of the earth who can assist them. Others have told all that they knew, and it amounted to nothing. If the servant and Miss Borden have been equally frank, the verdict must soon be rendered. The fact that the district attorney was summoned on Monday and that Mr. Pillsbury, the attorney general of the State, was called from Boston yesterday proved that the authorities have abandoned all hope of making further progress along the line they were pursuing. Their conference with Mr. Knowlton proved that there was
in the nature of their evidence. It was purely circumstantial. If it were not strong enough to hold, the suspicion must be lifted from the household where it had rested, the guards on the premises must be called in and the detectives and local force must find a fresh trail. There is no fresh trail, however. The government admits it has had but one theory from the beginning, and that if that theory is incorrect, or if they cannot confirm it, whether it is correct or incorrect, they have none to take its place.
Theories galore have been suggested, of course, and many of them have been tested, but none, with the exception of the one on which they have been proceeding, has been accepted. At 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon it was known that nothing of a startling nature had been developed by the inquest, so far as the examination of the servant was concerned. The girl was cool and collected, and told the story which she related when she was questioned concerning her whereabouts on the morning of the murder, and her experiences bearing on the discovery of the two bodies. She did not halt or hesitate and the cross-examination failed to shake her. The discrepancies in her testimony as given before the district attorney and to the police officers who have interviewed her from time to time are too trifling to be noticed. If Miss Borden is as successful under fire as Bridget Sullivan has been,
The Inquest Will Not Figure Prominently
in the Case.
The former was not placed on the stand yesterday afternoon. Attorney General Pillsbury arrived at the Mellen House before he was expected, and the district attorney, city marshal and others who were conducting the examination, left the courthouse immediately and engaged in consultation with him. It is safe to state, however, that all the evidence, so far as the police are concerned, was in on Monday afternoon, and that they did not hope to add to their case by means of the more formal proceedings which were to follow.
It was given out at 4:30 that there would be no arrest last night, but that announcement caused no surprise. The inquest had not been finished and it was known that the government wished the attorney-general to pass on the case. He had not had time to hear all the evidence or to weigh it carefully, and while there were reports to the effect that several arrests would be made before midnight, they were not generally credited. There is one able detective who seems to have dropped out of the case entirely for the past two days, and he is Mr. Hanscom of the Pinkerton Agency. He gave an opinion on Sunday, was credited with having incurred the hostility of the local force and out-of-town officers who arrived earlier on the scene, and disappeared from the newspapers. It would be interesting to learn just what his relations to the government were and what course he advised. A great deal is sometimes taken for granted, and
Mr. Hanscom’s Summing Up the Situation,
coupled with the orders issued Sunday night relative to visitors to the Borden house, led to the conclusion, and possibly a hasty conclusion, that the local force did not intend to lend him any assistance The other officers and officials were fully occupied yesterday. When they were not in attendance at the inquest they travelled in pairs. The city marshal had State Officer Seaver for a constant companion. Medical Examiner Dolan and State Officer Rhodes hurried about in a coupe. And all four were grouped every now and then about attorney-general Pillsbury and District Attorney Knowlton.
None of the quintet cared to talk for publication. The attorney-general left the city at 3:40 and the inquest was resumed. Mr. Pillsbury was a trifle sarcastic. He said, just before he left, that he did not think the case was so mysterious as has been reported, and joked with the press representatives concerning their clews. He was informed that the murder was mysterious enough to baffle the police and that five days had elapsed and there had been no arrest. Somebody took the pains to further inform him that the evidence was entirely circumstantial. “You newspaper man know, or ought to know,” said Mr. Pillsbury, “that you may not be in a position to pronounce on the case. There may be some things that you have not heard of and which may have an important bearing.” The reply was to the effect that the head men who had been working on the murder had allowed at noon that they had no other evidence and that they ought to be pretty good authority.
“Police Officers Do Not Always Tell All
was a parting shot of the attorney general. After Mr. Pillsbury’s departure the examination in the court-house was conducted until 6 o’clock. Last evening District Attorney Knowlton issued the following brief bulletin—he was told it would grow before morning: “Inquest opened at 10:00 a.m. this morning before Judge Blaisdell. District Attorney resepnt (?) conducting. Inquest adjourned to Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.”
At 5 o’clock Bridget Sullivan left the police station in company with officer Doherty and passed down Court square. She was dressed in a green gown with hat to match and appeared to be nervous and excited. Nobody knew her, however, and she attracted no attention whatever. She went to the Borden house for a bundle and, still accompanied by Officer Doherty went to No. 95 Division street, where her cousin, Patrick Harrington, lives, and where she passed the night. She was allowed to go on her own recognizance and seemed to be much relieved to get away from the Borden house. The government impressed her with the necessity of saying nothing about the proceedings at the inquest and she was warned not to talk with anybody about her testimony. Bridget Sullivan is one of 14 children. She came to this country six years ago. For three years she worked for a number of families in Fall River, and the police say that she bears an excellent reputation. For the last three years she has lived with the Borden family, and for some time past has been threatening to return to Ireland. She says that
Mrs. Borden Was a Very Kind Mistress
and that she was much attached to her. Mrs. Borden used to talk to her about going home to Ireland, and used to tell her that she would be lonely without her. Accordingly, the girl says that she did not have the heart to leave, but she never expected to be in an awful predicament like this. She had been terrified ever since the tragedy, she said.
Prof. Wood of Cambridge arrived on the 4 o’clock train yesterday afternoon, but was not called on to testify at the inquest yesterday. He was questioned regarding the nature of his visit, and stated that he had come to this city to see what there was for him to do.
“Have you examined any axe, Professor?” was asked.
Prof. Wood hesitated a moment, and said: “I have seen an axe.”
“Will you make an examination down here?” was the next question
“I do not expect to,” was the reply. “I could not very well bring down my laboratory.”
At 6 o’clock Miss Lizzie Borden, accompanied by her friend, Mrs. George Brigham, and Marshal Hilliard, entered a carriage and drove to Miss Borden’s home. The excitement was not over for the day but the district attorney’s bulletin made it plain that the authorities would make no further move last night. When the inquest adjourned the situation in a nutshell was this: The authorities were evidently convinced that they could rely on Bridget Sullivan, and she was released from custody, for she has been in custody since Thursday noon. Miss Lizzie Borden has been partially examined, and the police had completed their work on the case, so far as the collection of evidence is concerned.
The Mystery About the Inquest.
There was almost as much mystery about the scenes incidental to the inquest yesterday as there was about the murder. In the first place the authorities seem to want it understood that there was no inquest. Some of them intimated that the government was simply conducting an informal examination with a view to drawing from the witnesses their last stories and making a comparison of them. In fact, that was the impression which prevailed in town up to full talks up and folded piece of footage noon, and it was reported that the oath was not administered. Nevertheless the great pain which all connected with the proceedings took to keep information from the police made it plain that the officials were winding up the case.
The District Court room, which is usually open to all who care to visit it, and which is usually visited by the idle element, was guarded as jealously as the Borden house on Second street During the morning an officer sat at the head of the stairs leading from the guard room, and in the afternoon two patrolmen were on duty, one at the top of the staircase and one at the foot, and warned off those who attempted to approach, and of course all those who went in or came out refused to utter a syllable.
Neither the servant nor Miss Borden was represented by counsel, and that fact occasioned some little combat. It is known that A. J. Jennings, Esq. called at the city marshal’s office and applied for permission to look after the interests of the witnesses, but it was refused. It is stated that Mr. Jennings, who can protest on occasion, argued at length against being excluded, but the government would not yield, and he was obliged to withdraw. Consequently it was doubted last night if he were any better informed than the public regarding the nature of the testimony. He had a short talk on Main Street with Detective Hanscom, and went home early
It was whispered in police circles during the evening that
There Was Something Very Significant
in the fact that Bridget Sullivan, the only government witness, with the exception of Miss Lizzie Borden, and a person on whom the prosecution must rely to explain certain occurrences before and after the tragedy, was allowed to go on her own recognizance, and at 6 o’clock the bearing of the officials who have worked up the case indicated that they were in possession of information which they considered as very valuable, and which they had hitherto been unable to secure.
The servant, who is intelligent and well informed, must be more intimately acquainted with the conditions of things in the Borden household than anybody outside of the family. She had worked there three years, and, as a rule, servants are observant. A friend of hers said yesterday afternoon that she knew that Bridget Sullivan wanted to tell the truth and that she had nothing to conceal. The government dismissed her solely on her promise to return in case she was wanted, and this is taken to mean that the theory which has been entertained all along is to be abandoned, or that the servant’s testimony, as taken by Miss White, the stenographer, contains all the information the police can possibly get from her. This was mere supposition, however, and nobody felt any too sure concerning his conclusion.
The following brief conversation took place when the servant went to the Borden house for a bundle at 5 o’clock. Miss Lizzie had not returned from the police station and her sister was keeping house:
“Are you coming back to-night, Maggie?” asked Miss Emma.
“Not to-night, Miss Emma,” was the reply.
“Are you coming back to-morrow night?”
“Not to-morrow night, Miss Emma,” said the servant again.
“I just wanted to know,” said Miss Borden, as she bade the servant good night.
Yesterday the public looked for some action by the police as the outcome of District Attorney Knowlton’s arrival Monday and conference with the city marshal, medical examiner and the State officials. The rumor that either one or two warrants had been prepared Monday evening and lacked only the signature of the city marshal to warrant their execution also impressed the public. What actually happened, however, was not in the nature of
A Decisive Movement By the Authorities.
They only proceeded to further investigation, being led to this action by a desire on the part of District Attorney Knowlton to secure better grounds for suspecting the family then have yet been discovered. The conference Monday night was not attended, it is to be noted, by any member of the family or representatives of the Borden girls, who have two of the ablest friends they could possibly have on their side—Mr. A. J. Jennings, their lawyer, and detective Hanscom; nor was there any attendance of their friends or advisers at the inquiry yesterday forenoon. This remarkable feature of the case, of course, deepens the distinct impression which has been prevalent since the day of the crime was discovered, that the authorities are unfriendly to the family, or at least, find reasons to make them strongly suspect that the
Misses Borden Know More or Less About
It is very seldom that when a murder is committed in a family, the family is not taken into the confidence of the police, and much more seldom that a family has to prepare to fight the law officers of a whole city and county.
The Inquest Begun.
At 9:30 o’clock a.m. yesterday Bridget Sullivan was notified that her presence was required at police headquarters and she went to the Central Station under escort of Officer Dougherty. Awaiting her presence were District Attorney Knowlton, State Officer Seaver, Marshal Hilliard and Medical Examiner Dolan, and soon after they were joined by Mayor Coughlin. A report that an inquest was under way quickly spread, but received prompt denial by the marshal. When asked the meaning of the gathering he said it was an inquiry and the officers were searching for information. The domestic was in the presence of the officials for several hours and was subject to a searching
cross-examination, every detail of the tragedy being gone over exhaustively.
Upon the arrival of the Sullivan woman at the Second District Court, which adjoins the police station, the officers were all in readiness, and a swarm of newspaper men sought admittance to the room They were hurried out and the door closed. But Fall River it is a leaky place, and at 12:30 o’clock, after the hearing adjourned for dinner, the proceedings were revealed. There were present Judge Blaisdell, District Attorney Knowlton, City Marshal Hilliard, district officers Seaver and Rhodes, Medical Examiner Dolan, the district attorney’s stenographer, Annie Read, and a couple of police officials, who were among the first called to the house of the Bordens last Thursday. Bridget Sullivan
Was in Deep Distress,
and, if she had not already cried her eyes out, would probably have been very much agitated. On the contrary, while tremulous in voice and now and then crying a little, she was calm enough to receive the interrogatories without exhibiting much emotion and answer them comprehensively. The first question put to her was in regard to her whereabouts all through the morning of Thursday up to the time of the murder. She answered that she had been doing her regular work in the kitchen on the first floor. She had washed the breakfast dishes. She saw Miss Lizzie pass through the kitchen after breakfast time and the young lady might have passed through again. Bridget continued that she had finished up her work downstairs and resumed window washing on the third floor, which had been begun the preceding day. She might have seen Mrs. Borden as she went upstairs; she could hardly remember. Mr. Borden had already left the house.
The witness went up into the third floor, and while washing windows talked down to the sidewalk with a friend. She went on with the windows and might have made considerable noise as she raised and lowered them. She heard no noise inside the house in the meantime. By-and-by she heard Miss Lizzie Borden call her. She answered at once and went down stairs. Miss Borden did tell her what the matter was when she called her. Bridget said she went down stairs to the first floor, not thinking of looking about on the second floor, where Mrs. Borden was found dead shortly afterwards, because there was nothing to make her look around as she obeyed Miss Lizzie’s call. She found Mr. Borden dead and Lizzie at the door of the room.
The last point touched yesterday was the letter sent to Mrs. Borden warning her that she might be poisoned. Bridget said she knew nothing about this matter at all. Judge Blaisdell dines at 12 o’clock with great punctuality, but he waited considerably later to get as far as possible with the Sullivan woman’s testimony. The poor girl begged to go home when the hearing was adjourned, but she was not allowed to.
About 1 o’clock p.m. yesterday the city, already excited and expecting a development in the Borden case, somehow found out that the authorities were going to
Bring Miss Borden to Police Headquarters.
The city marshal and Officer Harrington drove to the house in a hack at 1:40 o’clock. Apparently the entire business portion of Fall River expected the arrival of a hack at the Borden house. People gathered on all corners by which the carriage was to proceed is going to and from the house, and lined Second street sidewalks, while a long string of horses and wagons, some containing people who were out driving, were ranged in the street in front of the house.
City Marshal Hilliard does not ordinarily served subpoenas, but he served one on this occasion. It was a regular summons to appear as a witness at an inquest. He found Mrs. George S. Brigham, an old friend of the Borden girls, in the house with the ladies. Just after the marshal entered the house Mrs. Brigham left the house and crossed the street to the office of Dr. Bowen opposite. The crowd were much excited by this, for they supposed it betokened the illness of one of the inmates of the house, and this, following upon the visit of the city marshal, looked as if the marshal had announced that it was his duty to arrest one or more of the inmates of the house. But a moment later Mrs. Brigham left the doctor’s office and re-entered the Borden residence.
The city marshal served his paper, which summoned Miss Borden to the inquest, and soon after that young lady, Mrs. Brigham, the city marshal and Officer Harrington drove away from the house. They arrived at the police station at 2 o’clock. A larger crowd was waiting to see who was in the carriage. Miss Borden, who was dressed in black, but not deep mourning, got out of the hack last. She was pallid and bit her nether lip as she went through the crowd, but she stepped lightly and entered the door without assistance.
What transpired after the party entered the Second District Court room cannot be known at present. The doors were locked, and no one but the county and city officials who are conducting the inquest was allowed within. The hearing must have been an extended one, for Miss Borden did not leave the court room till 6 o’clock. She was then driven back to her home in a carriage, Mrs. Brigham and the city marshal with her.
The Lowell Times says:
Has this possibility been before suggested? May not the assassin have concealed himself in the house the night before and shadowed the members of the household? This question may be answered by another: Why then did he not do his murderous work and escape in the night? Possibly because his purpose was only to kill Mr. Borden, and so he waited to catch him alone. While shadowing his intended victim, may he not have been discovered by Mrs. Borden and killed her to escape detection? May not the absence of Miss Lizzie from the house and that of the servant from the lower floor have given him the very opportunity which he awaited?
As an hypothesis this is tolerable, whether we believe the murderer to have been in collusion with certain members of the household or not. At least it is certainly tenable if we are to believe that there was such collusion. It may be said that the felon could not have escaped by daylight. Yet to the best of our knowledge and belief the assassin did escape by daylight. Indeed, we are forced to accept this or the conclusion that Lizzie Borden or the servant girl did the deed. Morse was not there, be it remembered. All that we claim for our supposition is that—it gets the murderer into the house under the cover of darkness, and thus disposes of one great difficulty. How he got out unobserved is another matter, but, we repeat, he did get out unless one of the two women did the butchery. That the actual killing was done by a woman of
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the 19th century, and particularly by a refined and cultivated woman, we hold to be clearly impossible. As to complicity nothing can be said at this time.
A Singular Coincidence.
A singular coincidence in connection with the Borden murder is that the calendar pointer on the old fashioned clock, at the residence on Second Street, stopped on the fourth, the date of the murder, and still points to that date. The other works of the clock are not impaired, but tick off the minutes and the hours with usual regularity.
Trial by Newspaper.
The Boston News says:
It is a serious matter to accuse a person of having taken the life of a fellow being. The gravity of the charge is augmented when a homicide must, of necessity, have been delivered and premeditated, with every circumstance of cold-bloodedness and precaution to add to its atrocity. How much more care and circumspection of judgment must therefore be exercised in laying the fell accusation of murder at the doors of a woman and a daughter, the accusation of murder in this most hideous form, of parricide, and double parricide at that! When the suspected person enjoys an unblemished reputation, the possession of all the Christian and social virtues and holds a recognized place in society, every canon of mercy, justice and common sense demands that no word shall be breathed against her character, no suspicion entertained that is not based on unimpeachable evidence. That is not what certain newspapers are doing with regard to the Borden tragedy in Fall River. In the absence of fundamental facts, they intimate by innuendo and direct assumption that Miss Lizzie Borden, the daughter of the murdered pair, with her own hands committed the frightful deed. There is no evidence in support of such an assumption. Miss Borden is connected with the affair by reason of her being one of the two persons in the house at the time and the one by whom the alarm was given. There is nothing whatever to show that her hands are red with the blood of her father and step-mother. A motive is conspicuous by its absence. The theory of insanity has fallen to the ground. It is by no means certain that she will be financially bettered by her father’s death. By the law of the land she should be held innocent until proved guilty, if ever, but the newspapers aforesaid have tried her and found her guilty on these slender grounds. It is unfair and unchivalric. Let every honorable man and reputable newspaper suspend judgment until satisfied by the evidence one way or another.
The Boston Journal says: The theory on which the Fall River Police appear to be working in the Borden murder case is so monstrous and so intrinsically improbable that every day which passes without the discovery of evidence increases the public impatience with it.