The Evening Standard—Saturday, August 6, 1892 Page 2
FALL RIVER’S TRAGEDY.
Many Startling Stories will Bear
Cruel and Unjust Rumors About
Morse and Miss Borden.
True the Lady’s Family Relations
Have Been Strained.
Latest Developments in Poison
End of the Horror.
Bereaved Family Worried by
Watchful Eyes of Police.
Proceeding on the theory that a man will have a difference with Mr. Borden, one of the victims in the double murder at Fall River, entered his house Thursday morning and struck him down, it is marvellous to reflect how fortune favored him. Not once in a million times would fate have paid such a way for him. He had to deal with a family of six persons in a little two-and-a-half story house, the rooms of which are all connected, and in which it would be difficult matter to stifle sound. He must catch Mr. Borden alone and either asleep or off his guard, and kill him with one blow. The faintest outcry would have sounded an alarm. He must also encounter Mrs. Borden alone and fell her, a heavy woman, noiselessly. To do this he must either make his way from the sitting room on the ground floor to the spare bedroom above the parlor and avoid five people in the passage, or he must conceal himself upstairs and descend under the same conditions. The murdered woman must not lisp a syllable, and her fall must not attract attention. He must then conceal the dripping axe, with which the deed was committed, and depart. In order to accomplish this he must find Emma Borden, one of the daughters, on a visit to relatives; Lizzie Borden must be in the barn and must remain there for 20 minutes—five or 10 minutes would not do. The servant must be in an upper story. Her presence in the pantry or kitchen or any room on the first or second floors would have frustrated the fiends designs, unless he killed her too and she died without a murmur. In making his escape there must be no stains on his clothing, for they would betray him.
And so, if the assailant of the aged couple was not familiar with the premises, his luck treated him exactly as described. He made no false move. He could not have proceeded more swiftly or surely had he lived in the modest edifice for years. At the outside he had just 20 minutes in which to complete his work. He must go in after Miss Lizzie entered the barn, and he must disappear before she returned. More than that, the sixth member of the family, John V. Morse, must vanish for two of hours. He could not have been counted upon by any criminal, however shrewd, who had planned the tragedy ahead. Mr. Morse came and went at the Borden homestead. He was not engaged in business in Fall River, and there were no stated times when the wretch who did the slaughtering could depend upon his absence. He cannot loiter about the house and yard after breakfast. He must take a car for some other section of the city and must not return until his host and hostess have been stretched lifeless. The slightest hitch in these conditions and the murderer would have been balked or arrested on the spot. Had this Emma remain deaf home she would have been a stumbling block; had Miss Lizzie left the stable a few moments earlier she would have seen all; had Bridget Sullivan, the servant, stopped work and descended to the second floor, she would have heard her mistress drop as the axe fell on her head; had John V. Morse cut short his visit on Weybosset street by so much as 10 minutes the butcher would have dashed into his arms as he ran out of the gate; had Mr. Borden been on the alert he would have uttered a cry which would have brought at least three people to his assistance, and if he was not asleep and his wife was murdered first, he would have met her slayer face-to-face when the latter descended the stairs.
It is a wonderful chain of circumstances which conspired to clear the coast for the wretch; so wonderful that its links baffle the understanding.
The excitement continues unabated, although there are no new developments. Men are gathered in knots in all of the shops and places they are accustomed to congregate in, and naturally the tragedy is the only topic of conversation.
The details of the killing are no longer commanding public attention, but every team is watched in an attempt to track the murderer or murderess. The consensus of opinion is that somebody familiar with the premises is responsible for the crime, and this conviction deepens every hour. The police are proceeding slowly, however, and no arrests have been made. Both the local force and the State officers are following the clew they struck Thursday afternoon, and the longer they pursue it the more confident they are that they are on the right track. They have the house under surveillance, and nobody is allowed on the premises without a permit.
Searching for the Weapon.
The search for the weapon with which the murders were committed has developed nothing up to date. John W. Morse in company with D. P. Keefe, looked through the hay in the barn yesterday and made a thorough examination of the carriages and sleighs. The police hunted in a vault and an old well, but found nothing. There is a story that Dr. Dutra of Fall River happened across an axe Thursday night the blade of which had been cleaned, but no stock is taken in it. Morse was very anxious to engage Keefe, or have Keefe hire somebody to bury the blood stained cloths and towels which were used on the victims. He said that the family wanted them put out of sight and would pay well for it. This news was communicated to Medical Examiner Dolan and he ordered that nothing on the premises should be disturbed.
The Course of the Police.
It is plain from the course which the police are pursuing that they are not looking for any farm hands or tenant who might have quarreled with Mr. Borden, and that the persons whom they want are within a few moments walk of the City Hall and are to all intents and purposes under arrest this moment, although the cell doors have not closed on them. In fact the officers admit this and allow that they are waiting for a couple of threads that are out to be unraveled.
Poison End of the Tragedy.
Policemen have visited all the drug stores in Fall River. In addition to the story of Miss Borden asking for poison at Levi Bence’s drugstore as printed in last evening’s Standard it was found that at the apothecary shop of Stephen Brow, corner of Second and Borden streets, a man asked for corrosive sublimate a day or two ago and Mr. Borden refused to give the order. The man wanted it to cure a dog bite, he alleged, and he is known and shadowed. Last night it was learned that Miss Lizzie Borden had inquired at a drugstore for hydrocyanic acid in a diluted form, saying she wished to use it on furs. Medical Examiner Dolan who has been deeply interested in the case, said that the acid would be of little use for such purpose as it had no antiseptic qualities, but it is an exceedingly injurious acid in the human system.
Wanted Hydrocyanic Acid.
Suspicions are cruel and, if unfounded, they burn like hot iron; but in a murder mystery, where every link may strengthen the chain, they rise up at a thousand points and cannot be ignored. If a person wished to kill and avoid detection, and that person were wise, hydrocyanic acid would be first choice among all deadly drugs. It is a diluted form of prussic acid and it does its work surely. It is not necessary to use it in bulk; homeopathic doses are all sufficient. It is absorbed by the nervous system and leaves no traces, and it produces none of the anti-mortem symptoms peculiar to most violent poisons. There is no vomiting, no spasms or convulsions, no contraction of the muscles—hydrocyanic acid simply takes hold of the heart and stops its beating. It may not have been used in this case, and the detectives do not claim that it was.
The theory that Mr. and Mrs. Borden were drugged and then murdered is not believed by the detectives, who contend that there was nothing to indicate a dose of poison heavy enough to cause death or drowsiness. Poisons do not compose people to sleep, as a rule, and if morphine had been administered there would have been traces of it in the physical appearance of the man and woman. Consequently, their theory is that a woman committed the murders.
The Blows Were a Woman’s Blows,
there were many of them; cut after cut was inflicted by a sharp weapon, and no great strength would have been required to wield the axe. A man would have struck once or twice, perhaps three times, and have been contented with his work. Only a woman would make mincemeat of the head of Mrs. Borden and the face of Mr. Borden. This was the view held by one of the most experienced detectives on the case yesterday afternoon. He said that he had talked it over with the other detectives, and that they agreed with him “A breath may come, of course,” he added, “and disabuse us all of this theory, but I shall not abandon it until something transpires which makes it necessary to give it up.”
The stomachs of the victims have been removed and sent to Boston, where the contents will be analyzed. Until the verdict of the chemist has been rendered, no definite conclusions can be reached concerning the use of poison.
Dr. Bowen’s Testimony.
Dr. Bowen’s testimony, as given yesterday, bears out this idea. He said: “When I reached my home, and before I entered it, my wife said to me, ‘You are wanted at the Bordens. Something terrible has happened.’ Without waiting to learn what the trouble was I hurried across the street and entered the house by the side door, which leads to the kitchen. There I was confronted by Mrs. Churchill, who lives next door to the Bordens, and by Alice Russell and Lizzie Borden. Miss Russell was sitting by Lizzie’s side, rubbing her forehead and hands, and otherwise comforting her. I asked what the trouble was, and they told me that Mr. Borden had been killed. I asked how long since it had happened, and they replied that it was only a few minutes. By conservative calculation, I believe it was not over 20 minutes after they said that the fatal blows were inflicted. Alone I walked into the sitting room, and there I saw the body of Mr. Borden on a sofa. I determined to make a thorough investigation without delay, and proceeded. The sofa on which Mr. Borden reclined was mahogany with hair cloth covering, such as was commonly manufactured for a high class parlor furniture 40 years ago. The dead man lay partly on his right side with his coat thrown over the arm of the sofa at his head. He wore a blouse coat, and his feet rested on the carpet, as if he did not care to put his shoes on the upholstered covering. It was his custom to lie in that way.
I was impressed at this point with the manifest absence of any sign of a struggle. Mr. Borden’s hands were not clenched; no piece of furniture was overturned; there was no contraction of the muscles or indications of pain, such as we expect to find under similar circumstances. I am satisfied now, as I was then, that he was asleep when he received the first blow which was necessarily fatal. I approached the body and felt for the pulse . It had ceased to beat. Then I examined the body to note its condition and the extent of the wounds. Mr. Borden’s clothing was not disarranged and his pockets had apparently not been touched. The blows were delivered on the left side of the head, which was more exposed than the other, by reason of the dead man’s position. I do not believe he moved a muscle after being struck. The blows extended from the eye and nose around the ear. In that small space there were at least 11 distinct cuts of about the same depth and general appearance. In my opinion any one of them would have proved fatal almost instantly.
“I am inclined to think that an axe was the instrument used. The cuts were about 4 1-2 inches in length and one of them had severed the eyeball and socket. There was some blood on the floor and a spatter on the wall, but nothing to indicate the slaughter that had taken place. I calculated that nearly all the blows were delivered from behind with great rapidity. At this point, as I recall it, I returned it to the kitchen and inquired for Mrs. Borden. Lizzie replied that she did not know where her mother was. She said that she (Lizzie) had been out to the barn and that the servant was on the third floor. Mrs. Churchill suggested that I go upstairs, which I did, entering the front room. I was informed that Mr. John Morse had occupied it the night before. As I passed within I was horrified to see the body of Mrs. Borden on the floor between the bed and dressing case in the northeast corner. I reached over and realized that she was dead, but at the moment I was not sure she had been murdered. I thought it might be heart disease. The sad truth was discovered too soon. Mrs. Borden had also been murdered. There were, however, no signs of a struggle in the surroundings. There was a large pool of blood under the dead woman’s head as she lay face downward, with her hands under her. Her head had been literally hacked to pieces, and I easily made out 11 distinctive gashes of apparently the same size as those on the husband’s face. Some of these blows had been delivered from the rear and two or three from the front. One glance blow cut off nearly two square inches of flesh from the side of the head. In my judgment, the dead woman did not struggle. She was rendered unconscious by the first blow. Not a chair was displaced and not a towel disturbed on a rack near by. I next returned to the kitchen and told the women of my discovery. They were greatly shocked. I visited the dead in company with the police officers, but made no further of observations. It would be impossible to determine the actual time which elapsed after the murders before I was called on to state positively who was killed first.
Blood Stained Clothes Buried.
Yesterday afternoon, under the direction of Officer Chace, the bloodstained clothes, which the family were anxious to dispose of, together with portions of skull which had been cut from the head of Mrs. Borden, were buried near the house. Just what Medical Examiner Dolan will say when he hears of this is not known. Earlier in the day he had forbidden any such interment.
Another matter which is attracting attention is the
Question of Time Which Elapsed
between Mr. Borden’s last appearance on the streets and the first news of the murder. It is evident that there is some mistake about this time. At 11:10 on Thursday forenoon the report that there had been a stabbing affair on Second street reached a local newspaper office. The man who sent the information received it three or four minutes earlier, he thinks about five minutes after 11. At 10:30 Mr. Borden was on Main street. Probably a score of citizens can testify to that fact. He had 35 minutes in which to go to Second street, remove his coat and settle himself for a nap. He could not have reached the house before 10:45, according to those who have studied the case closely, and he is given another five minutes in which to compose himself. At 10 minutes of 11, then it is understood he was alive on the lounge. Lizzie Borden passed through the room that her father was sitting and went to the barn, and if she remained 20 minutes she informed Officer Harrington. The death was known down town before she reached the house. It is therefore argued that she is incorrect as to the time. Allowing that Mr. Borden walked very rapidly to his home, which is not likely, as he was not feeling well, and giving a narrow leeway to the announcement of the murder, it is still evident that the job was done with rapidity that was incomprehensible, considering its neatness. The
Unknown Villain Who Stole In
had everything in his favor, as has been plain from the start, but the police cannot understand how in a few seconds of time allotted to him he could have dispatched two persons in different parts of the house without spilling a drop of blood from his weapon or leaving behind a single trace. That weapon was as sharp as a razor. It cut clean through the hair, flesh and bone. The brain that guided the arm that wielded it acted deliberately, the doctors say. The wounds prove that the blows fell with a precision that was appalling, and that they were not driven home in a wild frenzy.
And so the state officers and police refuse to accept the theory that Mr. Borden and his wife both lost their lives after the former’s arrival home. They insist that
The Woman was Killed First.
The blood on the floor of the bedroom as compared with the blood that stained the lounge, confirmed that view. It is true that the woman’s body was the warmer when discovered, but that is accounted for by the fact that she was extremely fleshy, while Mr. Borden was spare and thin. If this conclusion is correct the murderer was hiding in the house awaiting Mr. Borden’s coming and he had already completed one awful job.
Attempt to Mob Morse.
Last night a crowd of fully 1500 people surrounded the fated house, and at 7 o’clock, when John Morse and the servant appeared, the curious followed them down the street to the post office. The crowd was augmented by hundreds. There is not a bit of evidence to warrant such demonstration as was made against him last night. Someone who knew him told some body else that he was Morse. It was like ringing an alarm of fire. People ran for him from every direction. It was a mystery where they came from. Two police officers, appreciating his position, went to the rescue. They acted as bodyguards with drawn clubs. There were murderous cries of “That’s the murderer,” and “Lynch him!” ” Lynch him!” There were enough present to do so, but no one dared to take the step. Morse did not appear in the least bit frightened, for he is a cool-nerved sort of a man. The officers escorted him to the post office and back. The incident went to show the intense excitement in this city over the affair.
Morse May Prove an Alibi.
The Fall River News says:
One of the most cruel incidents in connection with the murder has been the groundless speculation that has been cast upon Mr. John V. Morse, of Iowa, who was the guest of Mr. Borden for a few of hours preceding the horrible affair, and who is still stopping at the house, under the constant surveillance of the police. Mr. Morse tells a straightforward story, and his time is easily accounted for. His story, which completely relieves Mr. Morse from any connection with the affair, could have been verified by a half hours work on the part of any of the reporters who have spread his name broadcast over the land as the possible assassin.
Mr. Morse is a brother of the first wife of Mr. Borden and always between the two men have existed the kindest feelings of friendship and regard. Mr. Morse states that he came to Fall River from New Bedford last Wednesday on the 12:35 afternoon train. He arrived at the Borden residence about 1:30 and found Mr. Borden, his wife and daughter at home—all of them sick. He stayed until between 3 and 4 o’clock, when he went to Kirby’s stable, hired a carriage and drove to Luther’s Corner on business. He returned about 8:30 to 9 o’clock and sat chatting with Mr. and Mrs. Borden for some time. The former retired shortly after 9 and he and Mr. Borden a little after 10. Thursday they breakfasted about 7 o’clock, and about a quarter before 9 he walked down town to the post office, wrote a postal card and mailed it, and from there walked via Bedford, Third and Pleasant streets to No. 4 Weybosset street to Mr. James Emery’s, where Mr. Borden had informed him the night before that some relatives were visiting. These were a son and daughter, about 16 and 19 years of age, children of a brother of Mr. Morse’s, residing in Minnesota, whom he had not seen for a number of years. He found that the younger relative was out, but the elder was then, although indisposed, and he spent the forenoon with her and Mrs. Emery until towards noon. They invited him to stay to dinner, but he excused himself, that he had a previous engagement, Mr. Borden’s last words to him being, “John, come to dinner with us.” Returning, he took a street car on which six priests were passengers, three of whom sat on the seat with him. He left the car at the corner of Pleasant and Second streets, and walked direct to Mr. Borden’s residence. He did not enter the house, but went to the garden in the rear for a pear or two, and when he came back was met by the girl Bridget and a man Sawyer, who asked: “Did you know Mr. and Mrs. Borden had been murdered?” This must have been very near 12 o’clock.
It is certain that the murder was committed between 10 and 11 o’clock, and at that time, according to the testimony of Mr. Morse and the ladies whom he visited, Mr. Morse was at No. 4 Weybosset street, more than a mile away. Mrs. Emery states that Mr. Morse came to her house “not long after breakfast,” and that he stayed there until about 20 minutes after 11. She invited him to dinner, but he declined, saying he had an engagement. She fixes the time by saying that she had some trouble with a lock of the door when he went out. That immediately after he had gone she went for her hat to go to the store to make a purchase for dinner. It was half past 11. At the store she again looked at the clock there, wondering how much time she still had left to get dinner. The store clock said 11:40.
Mr. Morse’s niece confirms the story, and Mrs. Horace G. Kingsley, who resides on the first floor apartment, says that she saw Mr. Morse, come to the house early in the forenoon, and that she heard the trouble he had at the door and saw him as he was going away. She was getting her dinner at the time and it was after 11 o’clock, though she did not notice the exact hour.
The conductor of the car yesterday was a “spare,” named Whittaker, and the News has been unable to find him to-day, as he would probably remember the circumstance of the six priests and Mr. Morse’s riding with him. Mr. Morse’s story has, however, been confirmed, so far as the priests being on a car is concerned, by Conductor Kennedy of the car going east, who says he passed the car with the priests on the hill by the Pocasset engine house, about where Mr. Morse took the car, and that he took its time and it was just 22 minutes after 11 o’clock.
Mr. Morse is a gentleman 59 years of age and of comfortable fortune. He is the uncle of the Misses Borden, his deceased sister being their mother. “I have never borrowed a dollar of Andrew Borden in my life,” he said this morning, and no financial differences ever existed between us. Abraham Borden’s will left me no property, and my father’s will left none to Andrew Borden, the murdered man. A letter from a cashier in an Iowa bank of recent date, shows a handsome balance to Mr. Morse’s credit. Mr. Morse wears a suit a light grey clothes, all he has with him since he has been in the city. There is not a spot apparent on them. “Look at me,” he said, ” as a man of common sense, and say if I could have committed such a horrible butchery and present the appearance I do.” The last remark shows keenly the unhappy man feels the injustice that hasty suspicion has done him.
The Borden Family Nervous.
The Borden family are growing nervous under the constant watch which is being kept upon them. Lizzie Borden was only seen by two or three of her friends yesterday. She had made arrangements to go to Marion the first of next week for a short visit, and just before the tragedy wrote a letter to her friends advising them of her plans. Towards the close of the afternoon Morse also grew irritable, and had quite an altercation with David P. Keefe, who hired a man to bury the blood-stained clothes and pieces of skull for him. Keefe charged $5 for the work and Morse pronounced it robbery. Keefe said that he wouldn’t do the job for $100, though under some circumstances he allowed that he might be glad to do it for nothing. Morse finally paid $3. Later, he locked the barn when a couple of Boston newspaper men were inside, and found considerable fault with the liberties people took with the premises. He was reminded that a reward of $5000 had been offered, and that everybody was intensely interested.
Miss Borden’s Family Relations.
A great deal has been published concerning Lizzie Borden’s relations to her father and mother, and intimates of the family, who were not numerous, by the way, agree that her life at home was not the most agreeable possible. It has been reported that her allowance was small, and that outbreaks were frequent, but it may be that some of the statements will bear modification. Last Fall the young lady made an extended tour of Europe, and some of her acquaintances say that she had everything necessary to make her comfortable. She is a devout member of the Central Congregational church, and has been prominent in the work in which the young people of the society are engaged.
Removal of the Lounge.
The day’s incidents about the Borden homestead wound up with the removal of the lounge on which Mr. Borden was stretched when the axe split open his skull. It was placed in a wagon and taken to Windward’s warerooms.
Miss Borden’s Condition.
From midnight last night Mr. Morse summoned Dr. Bowen to attend Miss Lizzie Borden for the third time in 12 hours.