The Evening Standard—Friday, August 12, 1892 Page 1
ARRESTED AT LAST.
Lizzie Borden Charged With
the Double Murder.
“I Knew it Was Coming” Was
All She Had to Say.
Went Through the Ordeal With
Taken Violently Ill Soon After
Being Locked Up.
Police Confident of Conviction, But
Public Sentiment Divided.
What has been expected for several days in the Borden murder case has at last happened. Miss Lizzie Borden was arrested by the Fall River police, at the instance of District Attorney Knowlton, for the murder of her father and step-mother. The unfortunate young woman spent last night in the Central police station at Fall River, and will probably be transferred to New Bedford to-day. The offence is not bailable.
The inquest has not been finished and the police have not yet given up their surveillance of the other persons whom they have had practically under guard since the day of the murder.
It was intimated last night that the police do not consider Miss Lizzie Borden to have been alone implicated in the crime.
Before the Arrest.
It was growing tiresome in Fall River. The reaction had set in, and yesterday afternoon the community lost its patience. For two days it has been informed that the end was near and that the die was about to be cast; but at 3 o’clock the bulletin boards announced that no action had been taken and no verdict had been rendered, and the crowds muttered and grumbled. They wanted something done; their interest in clews and theories and suspicious characters had about died out. More than that, they were no longer satisfied with reports of the proceedings at the inquest retailed step by step. They demanded the grand finale which would bring the drama to a close or ring the curtain up on a new scene; but it seemed as if the grand finale had been indefinitely postponed. The hours dragged along and the gray walls of the court-house in the square kept their secrets, if they had any to keep. It was the same story over and over again. Witnesses known to be connected with the case appeared and disappeared; officers were sent hither and thither and various rumors were afloat regarding the probable outcome.
At 5:30 o’clock a big crowd had assembled about the police station. A number of women took up their position under an awning and remained until 7 o’clock. The officers did not interfere with them. A little news leaked out from the granite walls. It was announced that the inquest was over, the evidence was all in, and that everything depended on the decision of the district attorney. Then a little more news filtered through the masonry. There was an iron safe in the Borden house and a Boston expert was trying to unlock it. Down at the corner of Court square and Bedford street this report was supplemented by the information that the expert had encountered difficulties in his work, but was expected to strike the combination every moment.
There was more impatience. “What had the safe to do with the inquest? Could anything found in that release from the dreadful suspicion which had fastened itself on Lizzie Borden? If anything in that iron box could confirm the suspicion, why had it not been blown open before?” These and a hundred other questions were asked as fast as thought could frame them.
The clock on the City Hall struck 7 and still the small gatherings lingered. They pinned their faith to the newspapers and they had been told that the end must come before many hours. Either Miss Lizzie Borden would enter the closed carriage a free woman or she would remain in custody for many a day. If this conclusion was correct the public was aware that it could at last judge of the result for itself, and it continued to gaze at the unattractive station house.
A few moments passed and a small group of newspaper men standing in the centre of the square knew that
District Attorney Knowlton Had Made
Up His Mind,
and Miss Lizzie Borden was a prisoner. The news spread and in an instant the town knew that the curtain had fallen on one terrible act. In the same instant the
Populace Took Sides,
and those sides will remain arrayed against one another for many a weary month. Men who had been wavering and tossing between this and that theory for six days, were suddenly possessed of convictions clean-cut and positive. Miss Borden’s supporters were astounded.
They had hoped, cheerfully and bravely, from the first to the last, that she had been unjustly accused; that the suspicion which rested on her was as unjust as it seemed atrociously cruel. They still so hope, and so they will hope to the end, but the iron entered their souls when the arrest was made public. Those who have shaken their heads whenever innocence was suggested, were quicker to believe the grim news. They had contended all along that this would be the end; in a measure the verdict of the district attorney had vindicated them.
The scenes of the earlier days of the tragedy were re-enacted on the sidewalks in the main thoroughfares, in office doorways and back shops, only now the topic of conversation was this last significant move; then it was the murdered and the probable murderer. On the one hand, there had been the feeling that the police might strike, to save their own reputations, tempered by the reflection that District Attorney Knowlton, cool, level-headed, not easily stirred, would checkmate them if they erred.
On the other hand, the impression had prevailed that the government had not been strongly fortified in its position by the inquest, and that it was too timid to move. That evidence, circumstantial though it was, which might have answered 72 hours ago, had been weakened in that it had not been reinforced during the three days of the preliminary hearing. Perhaps the most general conclusion reached on all sides was this—there were developments at the inquest of which the community had known nothing, developments which
Tightened the Chain of Circumstantial Evidence
around Lizzie Borden. The police had explained their case to District Attorney Knowlton in a parlor of the Mellen House; in the Second District Court room they had put in that case fully and exhaustively, and last night the district attorney and his associates passed upon it. They concluded that the testimony to which they had listened warranted them in holding Miss Lizzie Borden. In spite of her social standing, her spotless character, the influence brought to bear by friends and acquaintances, the effect upon the community and the many difficulties the mind encounters in comprehending the full import of such a conclusion, the government said calmly and deliberately, “We cannot release Miss Lizzie Borden from custody. An arrest is not a conviction, however, far from it.
She May be as Innocent
as she was a week ago Wednesday morning and a victim to more terrible circumstances than those which surrounded her father and step-mother when they were struck down in their home.”
The case, which is sure to take its place in history with other famous cases, would not admit of hasty action. The evidence was not of a nature to warrant hasty conclusions. It has been necessary from the start to go minutely into what might seem to be the most insignificant details, and all this takes time. Nobody, outside of a small circle of police officials and State officers appreciates the influence which has been brought to bear to persuade them to abandon the theory which has kept them penned in the district court room four days. They have been forced against their better judgment to pursue every clew and demonstrate the absurdity of almost every hobby. Had they refused they would have been condemned in the event of a failure to fasten the crime upon anybody, of neglecting their duty, and every theorist and amateur detective in the town would have been positive to the end of time that his view was unassailable, or that he had seen the assassin. Consequently, theories had to be exploded and bubbles had to be pricked.
It isn’t particularly easy to account for the secretiveness of the officers for the last two days. There are many matters connected with the case on which they were expected to be dumb, but it is equally true that there was news of a general nature which they might have disseminated without prejudice to their cause. They had but one line to pursue and they had collected all their evidence along that line. No witnesses or suspects could escape that, and they might have prescribed to the suspense which existed and have lost nothing by it.
Details of the Arrest.
From the time that the carriage rolled up to the entrance to the Central Police Station at 4:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon and Lizzie Borden, Emma Borden and Mrs. George Brigham dismounted under the watchful eye of Marshal Hilliard, people commenced to congregate about the streets contiguous to the station house. By that intuitive perception by which the general public becomes aware of all important proceedings looking towards the capture or apprehension of criminals in noted cases, it was recognized that the most import movements of a long investigation had been entered upon, and that their passing was fraught with the greatest import to all directly concerned in the case as well as the public, restless under the week’s delay in clearing the way for the arrest of the murderer. There was nothing remarkable in the appearance of the party, Miss Emma Borden being evidently the most agitated. Already in the court room were Bridget Sullivan, District Attorney Knowlton and State officer Seaver. Soon after Dr. Dolan arrived, and then an officer dashed out of the room and hurried to D. R. Smith’s drug store. With him upon his return was the clerk of whom it has been alleged Lizzie Borden endeavored to purchase a deadly poison. The
Excitement Grew as the Hour Passed
and there was no movement from the court room. In the meantime information arrived that an expert safe opener had arrived from Boston, and had been driven hurriedly to the Borden house on Second street. Investigation showed the truth of this story and the further fact that he had commenced work upon the safe in which Andrew J. Borden kept his books and papers. This safe was found locked at the time of the tragedy and the secret of the combination died with the murdered man. The expert believed he could easily open the safe, but found the combination most intricate and he worked away without apparent result.
At 5 o’clock Marshal Hilliard and District Attorney Knowlton came from the court-room and entered a carriage. Soon the marshal returned, but the district attorney was absent for nearly an hour, and it was reported that he had visited the Second street house and had learned that the safe opener had not then completed his labors. Outside the court-room the stalwart officers kept guard and at the foot of the stairs in the station house the large force of newspaper representatives were on guard. The subordinate officers who have been working upon the case expressed their convictions that the
Long Delayed Arrest was about to be Made,
and that Lizzie Borden would not depart from the station with the remaining members of the household. Soon Bridget Sullivan emerged, and escorted by a police officer walked slowly down the street. The gravity of the situation was apparent, for the natural sternness of some of the officers, including the marshal, was increased to such an extent as to warrant the inference that something of importance in connection with the case was about to happen. Soon the inquisition was apparently ended, and then Lizzie Borden, her sister and Mrs. Brigham were escorted across the entry from the court room to the matron’s room, which is situated upon the same floor. An officer came out and soon returned with supper for the party. Miss Lizzie Borden threw herself upon the lounge in the room, and the repast was disturbed but little.
Across the hall there was grave work, and the decision of the authorities to arrest Lizzie Borden was arrived at after a consultation lasting but 10 minutes. The services of Clerk Arnold were called into requisition. The warrant was quickly drawn, and the result of the long examinations and week’s work of the government was in the hands of the police force of Fall River. At this time the news was among the reporters, but none were certain enough of the fact to dispatch the intelligence to the journals they represented. Excitement became general, and men, women and children stood about the streets and waited.
Soon Marshal Hilliard came out accompanied by Mr. Knowlton, and as they entered a carriage the telephone message informed Andrew J. Jennings, attorney for the family, that the two men were about to pay him a visit at his residence. This information obtained but little publicity, and not a few in the assembled crowds believed that Mr. Knowlton was being driven to the Boston train. The marshal and the district attorney proceeded to Mr. Jennings’ residence and informed that gentleman that the government had
Decided Upon the Arrest of Lizzie Borden,
and, recognizing that his presence at the station would be desirable, had deemed it wise to notify him of the decision arrived at and the contemplated action. Mr. Jennings was not apparently greatly surprised, and at once made preparations to visit his client. The officials returned to the court room and were followed in a few moments by the attorney. George Brigham also came to the station and entered the presence of the women in the matron’s quarters.
There was a moment’s preparation and then Lizzie Borden was notified that she was held by the Government on the charge of having murdered her father and mother. Marshal Hilliard stepped from the court room across the short entry and entered the matron’s room.
Lizzie Borden lay upon the lounge and the marshal walked to that part of the room.
“I have a warrant for you,” he said. The young woman made no answer, but remained in a lying position, staring at the officer and undergoing a most severe mental strain. The information had a most depressing effect upon all the others present particularly upon Miss Emma Borden, who was greatly affected. Upon the face of the prisoner there was a pallor, and while her eyes were moist with tears there was little evidence of emotion in the almost stolid countenance.
The marshal still held a warrant in his hand.
“We will waive the reading of that,” said Mr. Jennings, and he looked interrogatively towards Lizzie Borden. She nodded her acquiescence, but it was clearly an effort for her to even thus express herself.
The remaining members of the party then prepared to depart, and the effects of the arrest became apparent upon the prisoner. She still displayed all the characteristics of her peculiarly unemotional nature, and though almost prostrated she did not shed a tear. A carriage was ordered and Miss Emma Borden and Mr. and Mrs. Brigham prepared to leave. As they emerged from the station into the view of the curious crowds, the women, particularly Miss Emma, looked about with almost a pathetic glance. The people crowded forward and the police pushed them back. Miss Borden appeared to be suffering intensely, and all the external evidences of agitation were visible upon her countenance. Mrs. Brigham was more composed, but was evidently deeply concerned. The party entered the carriage and were driven rapidly toward Second street.
The presentment of the police against Miss Lizzie A. Borden now is founded almost solely on Bridget Sullivan’s evidence, with the other corroborative testimony on the case. From this the officers require Lizzie to account for her time for one hour, from 9:30 to 10:30, or thereabouts, when she was entirely alone in the house with her stepmother, Mrs. Borden, she having sent Bridget out of doors to wash the windows, and also for nine minutes, from about five minutes of 11 to three or four minutes past, when she was likewise alone downstairs in the sitting room with her father. The theory of the government all depends on Prof. Wood’s analysis of the contents of the stomachs and the difference in time which may be down in the arrest of their functions and digestion of the food later that morning at breakfast.
The Mayor, Mr. Coughlin, believes Mrs. Borden was killed first; if so, the post mortem digestion ought to indicate the fact. Her body was said to be comparatively cold when found, while Mr. Borden’s was warm and without symptoms of rigor mortis. The analysis of Mr. Borden’s stomach will prove whether or not digestion ceased after it had terminated in Mrs. Borden.
Uncle John V. Morse started out about a quarter of 9; Mr. Borden went down town at 9:15; Bridget Sullivan was sent out to wash the windows all around the house, by Miss Lizzie, at about 9:30. It took her nearly an hour. There were 11 windows. She began on the north side and worked along round by the back end of the house to the south side. In doing this she commanded a view of the side of the door and steps, and saw that nobody entered there during that time. When she got around the south side of the house, working toward the street, she was out of sight of the yard. She was also out of hearing of any heavy sound of a fall in the spare chamber in the extreme northwest front of the house. As she came out to the street she came in view of the front door; she saw old Mr. Borden coming up the street, and ran round to the front door to let him in. This was about 10:40, and all the time Lizzie Borden was alone in the house with Mrs. Borden. Bridget went up to her room at about five minutes of 11. She left Lizzie smoothing the pillows for her father’s nap on the lounge. She threw herself on the bed after attending to little things, but in less than five minutes Lizzie called her. She descended to find Mr. Borden dead.
Officer Medley found the lead in the barn that Lizzie was after to make sinkers. There was about twenty pounds of leaf led in a little jug to the left of the door at which she entered, and two feet six inches from it there was a lot of pipe lead in plain sight four feet eight inches from the door. There was no lead in the barn chamber, and Lizzie says she was out there 20 minutes. That, in brief outline, is the government’s theory against Lizzie A. Borden; and the points she will have to meet, if called upon.
It is very generally conceded that the government must have very much more positive evidence that it has at present to secure a conviction.
“Their only hope,” said an old official, “is to break down Lizzie Borden. Their whole case depends upon that. If she holds her tongue she can never be convicted in this world in my judgment.” On the contrary great stress is laid on the fact that Lizzie has an hour alone with her mother and 10 minutes alone with her father to explain.
The Fall River News publishes a long article appealing to the citizens “to judge not.” Mr. John C. Milne of that paper says that from his own knowledge of the case Bridget Sullivan was not acting under Miss Borden’s orders at all, as the police have it, but was asked to go out and wash the windows by Mrs. Borden herself, the murdered woman, before Lizzie came down from her room for breakfast. He charges some of the extended reports of what goes on at the hearing, which is so secretly conducted that even the court officer is excluded, has been made to conform to the different theories that the different reporters have already advanced and published and emphasizes this evidence in regard to Bridget as only one instance of how many small but most important points there are upon which the authorities have information, but of which the reporters and the public are in ignorance. He says:
“Again we urge that minds be left unbiased as far as possible. Suspicions are not facts or convincing testimony in court. If they were at least two arrests would have been made days ago. Another point on which the formation of opinion is prejudiced by some is the bearing of Lizzie Borden during this trying ordeal. Some construe it as calm and dignified and believe in her innocence on this account. Others look upon it as indifferent, cold and heartless, entirely unnatural and indicating a personality capable of performing such crimes as police suspicion has attributed to her. To these we say: Judge not. Undertaker Winward could tell of scenes of grief that would eliminate charges of lack of feeling; friends who have been with her during the seven awful days can describe yearnings for sympathy, appealing and childlike in their simplicity, that would bring tears to many eyes. We speak whereof we know. Miss Borden has been all that Christian womanhood could ask, outside of the inquest room of which we know nothing.”
Mr. Milne alluded to the frankness of Miss Borden’s statements to reporters and police, made with no regard as to how they might be construed, and says there has been nothing in her deportment which justifies suspicion and belief that she is guilty.
“We ask not for sympathy on behalf of this unfortunate young woman, but justice. Simply that opinions be not formed, or if formed, that they be not expressed until further facts can be obtained.”