The Evening Standard—Friday, August 5, 1892 Page 2
HAVE A CLEW!
Police In Pursuit of Assassin
of the Bordens.
Finger of Suspicion Points to a
Singular Stories Told by John
They Fail to Agree in Important
Wonderful Self-Possession of Dead
Police Think Her Conduct is
Unless All Signs Fail Startling
Developments are at Hand.
No Trace Yet of the Axe with Which
Bloody Work was Done.
A most brutal and shocking murder stirred Fall River as it has seldom been stirred yesterday morning, and no crime has ever been committed there which could compare with it in fiendishness. Andrew J. Borden, a highly respected business man, 68 years of age, and his wife, a most estimable lady of advanced years, were literally hacked to pieces in their quiet home at No. 92 Second street in that city, as related in the Standard special dispatches yesterday. The house is a two and one-half story structure, surrounded by a well kept yard and barn, and is located in a thickly settled neighborhood. The family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Borden, an unmarried daughter, Lizzie, and a servant named Bridget Sullivan. Another unmarried daughter is away on a visit to relatives. For some days past Mr. and Mrs. Borden and Miss Lizzie had been feeling poorly, and Wednesday or the day before they suspected that their food was being tampered with, and that they were suffering from poisoning. They had determined upon an analysis, according to the servant, but as far as can be ascertained were not in possession of any definite information which would confirm their suspicions. Wednesday afternoon Mr. Borden was so unwell that he did not attend a meeting of the Massasoit Bank directors, as was his custom, and his friends inquired concerning his health.
Yesterday morning he felt better, and between 10 and 11 o’clock went down town and transacted some business in the First National Bank. Thence he walked up North Main street and at 10:30 was seen standing on the corner of Anawan street, where he owns a handsome brick block. He gave orders to certain workmen, and then crossed the street and walked directly to his home. When he entered his house the servant was in the kitchen, and Miss Lizzie, the daughter, was sleeping in her room upstairs. Just what happened afterwards is not known. At 11:15 Miss Borden awoke and descended the stairs. She passed into the front sitting room on the first floor, and there a sight met her eyes which caused her to cry out in horror. Lying on lounge with his face toward the ceiling was the body of her father. The head was covered with wounds from half an inch to six inches in length and the wall of the skull had been crushed in. One gaping cut extended from the forehead diagonally across the face to the shoulder-blade, and had evidently been inflicted by a butcher’s cleaver or broad axe. The unfortunate man’s blood had flowed on the shirt front and stained the sofa pillow.
Mrs. Churchill, a neighbor, happened to be passing at the time, and noticed the agonized expression on Miss Borden’s face. She hastened in and Bridget Sullivan, the servant, also ran to Miss Borden’s assistance when she heard her scream.
“Where is your mother, Lizzie?” inquired Mrs. Churchill.
Miss Borden who maintained remarkable control of herself, replied that her mother had gone out. She had received a message some little time before, asking her to call on a sick friend, and the daughter supposed that she had gone on an errand of mercy. Still the door leading out to the back yard was open contrary to custom, and the young lady fearing that the conclusion regarding her mother might be incorrect, in company with Mrs. Churchill she went to her mother’s room in the northwest corner on the second floor, where the poor girl’s worst fears were realized.
Stretched in a sickening pool of blood was the wife and mother. The body lay between the bed and dressing case, and the skull had been battered in apparently by the same weapon which had been used on Mr. Borden, although the nature of the wounds suggested that the murderer had dealt his blows with the blunt edge. Miss Borden swooned and Mrs. Churchill and the servant at once raised an alarm. Unfortunately the first notice sent out was to the effect that there had been a stabbing affray on Second street, and it was said that there had been a row in a yard. A few minutes later the most intense excitement prevailed, when it became known that Andrew J. Borden had been murdered, though it was fully half an hour before the details of the awful tragedy reached the public. Business in the centre of the city was practically suspended and men in all walks of life flocked to the scene.
City Marshal Hilliard sent several officers to the house, and all quarters of the town were scoured. The first rumor that reached the police had it that Mr. Borden had been struck near the barn, and had walked back to the house and thrown himself on the lounge to die. Investigation proved, however, that the story was not true, as there was no trail of blood leading into the room where the body was found. The carpet was stained and there were no indications of a struggle.
Dr. Bowen, who resides near the murdered man, was the first to enter the house after the crime was committed. He learned the following facts: When Mr. Borden returned from the bank he removed his coat, put on a thinner garment and sat down on the sofa to read a paper. The servant Bridget Sullivan, passed through the room on her way upstairs to wash the windows. Observing Mr. Borden and remembering that he was not as well as usual, she asked him how he was feeling. “No better or worse than yesterday,” was the reply. Bridget passed Miss Borden on the stairs. The latter went out through the room in which her father was sitting and entered the barn to get a piece of iron with which she intended to mend a flower pot. She thinks that she was not absent from the house more than five minutes. She, too, noticed that her father was occupied with a newspaper, and merely nodded to him. When she returned the frightful scene which has been described met her gaze. Dr. Bowen is positive that Mrs. Borden must have entered the room where Mr. Borden sat just as the murderer finished his bloody work, and that the fiend chased her up stairs to her room, where he struck her down, as the blows were inflicted by a person who stood beside her.
Nothing was taken by the murderer, and it is conceded that he was not intent on plunder. Mr. Borden was a reserved, courteous gentleman, who amassed a fortune when a member of the firm of Borden & Almy, undertakers. He retired from business many years ago and invested largely in real estate. He was president of the Union Savings Bank, a director in the B.M.C. Durfee Safe Deposit and Trust Co., and was interested in several of the manufacturing corporations of the city. Deceased was of a retiring disposition and never figured prominently in public life. He was twice married, his second wife, who was murdered yesterday, being a daughter of the late Oliver Gray. Two unmarried daughters by his first wife survive him.
A great many people thought it incredible that a murderer could enter a house on one of the principal thoroughfares of this city, commit such a deed as startled the community yesterday, and departed without attracting attention, but when one reflects, it wasn’t remarkably strange after all. If there was no outcry or commotion, not only one man, but three or four men might appear and disappear in any building that could be selected, and the chances are that they would not excite curiosity. At all events, it is certain that the fiend who struck down Mr. and Mrs. Borden was not seen about the premises by any one, and several theories have already been exploded. At noon City Marshal Hilliard and a posse of officers drove across the river and visited the property of Mr. Borden in South Swansey. He owned two farms there, and there was a story to the effect that a Swede or a Portuguese employed by him had called at the Second street house early in the morning and demanded money. One version had it that the man was under the influence of liquor, and that Mr. Borden told him he would not pay him while he was in that condition, and another, as already related, that Mr. Borden promised to go down town and get the money. It is known now that Mr. Borden had no trouble with any of his men on the farms, and that no Portuguese had been in his employ. His relations with the farm hands were of the pleasantest nature, and Marshal Hilliard and his officers found all of the latter at work.
The deed was done by somebody nearer home, but strange to relate, nobody has the slightest suspicion of who the guilty man can be. Miss Borden says that a week or two ago, a man whom she didn’t know called on her father and wanted to hire a store which was vacant. The man would have used it as a saloon and Mr. Borden refused to let it. A few days ago the same man called again and was again refused. He appeared to be somewhat angry, but was certainly not provoked enough to commit the murder, and thus far there is nothing to indicate that Mr. Borden had any serious difference with anybody. He was a stern man, just to all, and demanded his rights on all occasions, but at the same time he was not quarrelsome, and treated everybody fairly and courteously.
The murderer, whoever he was, struck to kill at the first blow, and accomplished his purpose, as not a sound escaped from either of the victims. If Mr. Borden had so much as spoken, his daughter and the servant must have heard him, and the same is true of his wife. Whether she was murdered before or after her husband was cut down is a question. The police contend that she would surely have screamed had she happened to enter the room where her husband was lying, and argue from that, that she was put out of the way first. It is not improbable, however, that she was speechless with fright and ran to her own room. It is also possible that she was in the sitting room when the murderer entered and withdrew, thinking that the latter wished to talk business with Mr. Borden. In that case, the murderer, aware that he had been observed, might have followed Mrs. Borden up stairs after he killed her husband.
State Officer Dexter arrived at the house soon after the news was made public, but confessed that he could not find the faintest clew to assist him. Two arrests which aroused the town afresh were made at about 2 o’clock. The Central Station police locked up a couple of young men for fast driving and in five minutes Court Square was packed with an excited crowd. A little later the police of the Eastern Station took into custody William Daily of Roxbury, who said that he had arrived in the city Wednesday night. There were blood stains on his clothing, which the prisoner said were two days old, and it is believed that he was telling the truth. It was as though the murderer and his clumsy but effective weapon had been swallowed up by the earth, and at last accounts yesterday afternoon the police had no clew to follow.
The police have a theory.
It cannot be said that the more the police reflect on the double murder which shocked Fall River yesterday, the more they are mystified, but at midnight it was true that the more they studied the case the greater was their astonishment. State officers, as well as the men of the local force, agree that there has never been such a murder in these parts. In broad daylight, with many people within hailing distance, and at least two people within a stone’s throw of the house which was the scene of the awful tragedy, two persons are cut to pieces, and there is no more commotion about the accomplishment of the foul deed that would result from slicing an apple. More than that no such killing was ever accomplished so neatly. In spite of the fact that a frightful weapon was used the blood spilled could be covered by a napkin. A pool had formed under Mr. Borden’s head, and his shirt was drenched with the crimson tide, but the walls and the sofa bore no traces of the deadly work. Beyond a few spots on the shams of the pillows in the spare bedroom where Mrs. Borden’s body was found, there was the evidence of the same neat handled work. There had been no bungling blows, no conflicts, the aim of the fiend who took the lives of the aged couple was true. Mrs. Borden had received no wounds as she was escaping, if she attempted to escape. She had been felled as a butcher would fell an ox, in her tracks, and nobody, neither her daughter nor her servant, knew that she had perished.
There is somebody else who was ignorant of this pitiless attack and his name is John W. Morse. Years ago he resided in Fall River; originally he hailed from Dartmouth. He went West to seek his fortune, and his sister married Andrew J. Borden, the murdered man. Morse located in Hastings, Iowa, and it is said that (continued on page 7)
Friday, August 5, 1892 Page 7
HAVE A CLEW!
(Continued from Second Page.)
he was engaged in the cattle business and prospered. Two years and a half ago he returned and has since lived in the East. On Wednesday he went to Fall River from this city on the noon train, and went to Mr. Borden’s house on Second street. He remained but a short time and then drove over the river and visited Mr. Borden’s farm in Swanzey. At night he drove back, ate his supper in Mr. Borden’s house, and slept there occupying the spare bedroom in which his hostess was killed. He told the following stories yesterday. The word stories is used because those who listened to him say that they do not agree in certain important particulars.
John W. Morse’s Stories
He said that about 20 minutes after 9 o’clock in the morning he left Mr. Borden’s house and walked to the City Hall, where he took a car for Weybosset street. He arrived at No. 4 Weybosset street at 9:30 and called on a niece and nephew, who were visiting a family there named Emery. “The first I knew of this affair,” said Mr. Morse yesterday noon just after 12 o’clock, “I received a telephone message and went down town. I arrived at Mr. Borden’s house at 11:40 and walked in at the gate. I picked up a couple of pears, and glancing in at the door, saw the uniforms of policemen. Bridget met me and said ‘Do you know what has happened? The folks are killed.’ I went in and saw Mr. Borden’s body lying on the lounge; then I went up stairs and saw Mrs. Borden’s corpse.”
Morse is a tall man, who looks like a farmer. He has a closely cropped beard and moustache, and his eyes are bloodshot, or have prominent veins in them. He has been on intimate terms with Mr. Borden’s daughters of late, and has been driving with them frequently.
Mrs. Emery Talks
Mrs. Emery, upon whom Mr. Morse called, was disposed to talk freely to Officer Medley, who interviewed her last evening. She said in reply to questions that she had several callers during the day, and that one of them was Mr. Morse.
“Was Morse the name we heard?” asked the officer of a companion.
“Yes,” retorted Mrs. Emery, quickly, “Morse was the man. He left here at 11:30 o’clock this morning.”
“Then you noticed the time?” observed the officer.
“Oh, yes,” was the reply. “I noticed the time.”
“How did you fix it?” was the next question.
After some little hesitation, Mrs. Emery said that one of her family was sick, and that Dr. Bowen was her physician. “Dr. Bowen came in just as Mr. Morse left.”
“Did they meet?” queried the officer.
“No, they did not,” said Mrs. Emery.
At this point, the niece in question entered the room and corroborated Mrs. Emery’s statements, though both women finally fixed upon 11:20 as the exact time of Mr. Morse’s departure.
Mr. Morse states that he was in the Borden yard at 11:40, and it is a quick trip from Weybosset street to Second street in 10 minutes. He needed the extra 10 minutes which the women gave him. It is necessary to be accurate.
Mrs. Emery volunteered information that Mr. Morse was well-to-do, at least that she supposed he was comfortably off and that he had come East to spend his money. She was not positive on this point, however. Morse’s niece was asked if she had ever seen her uncle before, and replied that she had. She had met him when she was five years old, and three weeks ago he had taken her from the cars at Warren to the Borden farm, Swanzey.
Mr. Morse’s memory in regard to his niece is somewhat defective. He had said that he went to call on her for the first time yesterday. He was interviewed again.
“I thought that you told me, Mr. Morse,” said the interviewer, “that you never saw your niece before to-day?”
“I never did,” replied Mr. Morse.
“She says,” was the rejoinder, “that you met her in Warren and drove her to Swanzey.”
“Ah, that is so. I did,” said Mr. Morse. “I saw her for just a moment or so.”
“And I thought you told me,” resumed the interviewer, “that you first learned of this affair by a telephone message when you were in another part of the city?”
“You are mistaken,” said Mr. Morse, “I said no such thing.”
“But you did,” persisted his questioner, “and I will take my oath on it.”
“You are mistaken,” Morse replied once more.
Miss Lizzie’s Self Possession.
Officer Harrington, who talked with Miss Lizzie Borden, says that the young woman’s self-possession was wonderful. He saw her just after the murder had been committed, and said: “I suppose you are so disturbed, Miss Borden, that you don’t care to say anything just now?”
Miss Borden replied “I can talk about it now as well as any other time.”
To all outward appearances she was perfectly composed.
“How long were you in the barn?” asked the officer.
“Are you sure about the time? Aren’t you overstating it?”
“No; I am positive that I was in the barn 20 minutes.”
“What happen then?”
“I came into the house and saw father lying dead on the lounge.”
“What did you do?”
“I screamed for Bridget.”
The police considered it singular that Miss Borden called to the servant, and it would seem that her first impulse would have led her to summon her mother. It may be that she remembered, however, that her mother had been summoned to call on a sick friend.
In the excitement that letter to Mrs. Borden, which figured prominently in the morning investigation, has been overlooked. It is now known that Bridget Sullivan, the servant, had been sent to the upper story of the house to wash windows, and that may account for the fact that she heard no unusual noise in the house. It is further learned that Mr. Borden had recently been settling up the estate of his father, Abraham Borden, of whose estate he was an executor, and that within a few days had sold some property. Abraham Borden left no will, and his estate was not large.
The first man arrested was John Joseph Maher. He was found by an officer in the outskirts, under a car on the New Boston road. He was considerably under the influence of liquor, and apparently knew so much about the murder that he was locked up. It was found that all he knew was what somebody else said about seeing a man coming down Second street and going up Pleasant street. This man had a small dark moustache. He went up Pleasant as far as Seventh. Maher was locked up on general principles and held for drunkenness. Two suspicious peddlers of jewelry, which they were ready to exchange for old clothes were overhauled on Bay street. One of them was a Jew. They were in a side bar top buggy and were arrested on suspicion by Officer Harrington. They told two different stories, saying at one time they had come from Brockton direct, and at another they stopped in Taunton Wednesday night and came to Fall River yesterday morning. They were arrested about half past one, and the pair were located in the vicinity of Second street in the forenoon as early as 10:40 by the police. These were all the parties under arrest last night, but the police are vigilantly watching all avenues and chasing down every clew. Alfred Johnson had worked for Mr. Borden 12 or 14 years, and the family scout any idea of suspicion against him.
Mr. Borden’s Career.
William Cook, a cousin, stated that Andrew J. Borden was a member of the famous old Fall River Bordens. He was a cousin to Jerome and to Ludovico and others. He was a son of Abraham Borden and years ago was the head of the old firm of Borden & Almy in the furniture business, investing his money later in real estate. Mr. Borden was about 65 years of age and a very venerable looking man. His wife was about 60. The community is deeply shocked.
Taunton Probate Records Searched.
It being learned that the police are watching Morse, the brother of the late Andrew J. Borden’s first wife, an effort has been made at Taunton to obtain information relative to the condition of the property left by Abraham B. Borden, father of Andrew. It appears that Morse has been at Borden’s house for the last two days, and that a settlement of the estate is in progress. It was thought that the will of Abraham Borden might have left the property in such manner as to revert to Morse in case of the death of Andrew Borden, but a search at the probate office at Taunton shows that no will was left by Abraham, and that Andrew J. was appointed administrator of the estate. Andrew J.’s mother left a will. But her property amounted to less than $3000, and that was all willed to her brothers and nieces.
Startling Developments Looked For.
The police have been unable to find the axe with which the bloody work was done, although they have searched carefully. They believe that it is still on the premises and admitted last night that they have a clew worth following. Unless all signs fail there will be startling developments to-day.
Scenes Never to be Forgotten.
Yesterday’s scenes will never be forgotten. All day long people surged about the house where the murder had been committed, and photographers who attempted to get a snap at it were obliged to depart because of the crowds. Up to midnight groups of excited men were gathered on all street corners eagerly discussing the details of the crime. Some of them say that they didn’t dare to go home to sleep and all of them admitted that they were dumbfounded.