Well hopefully there are enough ideas presented in my reply below to
hopefully 'prime the pump' of this list and get it going again (and
not just to annoy Jeffrey with my continued stance against the
automatic "Lizzie Did It And It's Not Open For Discussion"
>I saw the "Case Re-opened" segment about Lizzie on the learning
>channel the other night. According to the experts on this show,
>Lizzie had people lined up at the front door to kill the Bordens!
I saw the show, too, and the above statement is quite exaggerated....
ONE researcher suggested that there was a conspiracy involving Lizzie,
John Morse, Dr. Bowen, and possibly Emma; I for one was glad to hear
that at least one researcher who is respected enough to be included in
such a program considers both Dr. Bowen and Emma as possibly being
involved on some level, as I thought I was the only one who had ever
The researcher in question only stated that it was a possibility that
Morse and Bowen helped hire someone to kill the Bordens, pointing to
all the eyewitnesses who had seen the strange 'pale' man hanging
around the house that morning...there was never any mention on the
show that Lizzie 'had people lined up at the front door' to do the
>George Quigley spun a conspiracy between the sisters, Uncle John, Dr.
>Bowen, and Billy Borden.
William Borden was never mentioned in the theory regarding the
possibility that a hire killer was found to actually do the murders;
William Borden figured into a separate theory that it was he who
committed the murders because he was upset that Andrew wasn't going to
officially recognize him as his son, and therefore no money would be
left to William...
On the show they had Lizzie helping William, but that doesn't make any
sense to me and I don't see why she would help her illegitimate
half-brother kill her father and stepmother unless there was also
something in it for Lizzie...
(And it's on that point that I can't be totally convinced that Lizzie
did it, or did it alone, because absolutely no one has come up with a
credible motive -- or theory for a motive -- that makes complete
And I can't really buy William acting on his own either (this is
saying that we accept the premise that he indeed was the illegitimate
son of Andrew, or at least William considered himself to be), for the
same reason I have reservations regarding Lizzie's supposed motive for
killing the Bordens...
Namely that we're talking about two individuals who were in their 30s
at the time of the murders (Lizzie was 32 and William was in his late
30s or about 40); if either Lizzie or William had been in their late
teens or early-to-mid 20s when the Bordens were killed, it would make
more sense to consider them as suspects because they wanted to get
their hands on Andrew's money...
But both Lizzie and William had waited so long, why would either one
suddenly act in the summer of 1892 -- unless the status quo had
changed or was slated to change in some manner...?
Something seems to have changed in the Borden household in the 1891-92
period, and uncovering the nature of that change I believe would go a
long way to explaining the murders...
According to interviews in the "Lizzie Borden Sourcebook", friends of
Abby stated that starting a couple of months before the murders, Abby
suddenly started revealing that "Mr. Borden is going to take good care
of me when he dies"...
Now considering that Abby and Andrew were not newlyweds, it's strange
that Abby would not only suddenly start talking about such an intimate
matter, but also sharing such personal information with acquaintances.
It suggests that perhaps there had been some question prior to 1892
regarding what her status would be upon Andrew's death. Perhaps
Andrew, like many of that era, neglected making a will earlier because
of either superstition or because he wanted to keep everyone guessing
as to who would get what...
But in most jurisdictions in that era, if Andrew had died intestate
Abby would have gotten anywhere from one-third to one-half the estate;
in some areas the state ruled that a wife would get half her husband's
estate and any children would share in the other half; other
jurisdictions would have had both the wife and the children sharing
If we factor William Borden into the equation, if he could have
successfully proven that he was Andrew's son, then Lizzie and Emma
would have either had to share their half of Andrew's estate with
William, or the estate would have been evenly divided into quarters
between Abby, Lizzie, Emma and William. In other words, if
Massachusetts had a law where the surviving wife automatically
received one-half of the estate and the children received the other
half, Abby would have gotten 50 percent of Andrew's estate while Emma,
Lizzie and William would have had to share the remaining half amongst
themselves. If Massachusetts law stated that all survivors shared
equally, then Abby would have received 25 percent along with Emma,
Lizzie and William.
For illustration, let's say that Andrew's estate was worth $250,000 at
the time of his death; if the law stated that an intestate estate was
shared evenly amongst all survivors, Abby would have gotten a little
over $80,000 (as would Emma and Lizzie each) if William Borden got
nothing; if William Borden successfully proved he was Andrew's son,
albeit illegitmate, then all 4 would have received a little over
$60,000 each...not a shabby sum in 1892, but perhaps disappointing to
someone who may have had grander plans for their life, as Lizzie is
alleged to have had. But someone could live very comfortably on that
amount if they were content to live an upper-middleclass lifestyle
rather than a Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous...
If Massachusetts law stated that a wife automatically received half of
the husband's intestate estate and the children shared the other half,
Abby would have been in even better straights, as she would have
received $125,000; if only Lizzie and Emma were recognized as Andrew's
children, they would have have each gotten $62,500 -- again, if
William Borden were factored in, then Lizzie and Emma would have had
to share the remaining $125,000 with him, reducing their share of the
estate down to a little over $40,000 each...again, an amount that one
could have lived comfortably on, but not lavishly. And an amount that
was sure to gall any child who felt they 'deserved' a greater portion
of the estate than a second wife who was seen as an usurper...
So even without Andrew having a will, Abby would have been at least
comfortable with what she would have gotten from his estate; the only
ones who would have had a problem would be Lizzie and Emma (especially
Emma), who either would have resented sharing equally with Abby, or
would have been really put out if they only got a quarter of the
estate each, or had to divide their half into thirds to share with
William, while Abby got a full one-half of the estate...
But once again I have to point out that that situation was one of
long-standing (for the 30-something years Abby and Andrew had been
married), and in and of itself would not suggest a reason to murder
Abby (let alone Andrew)...
No, something else seems to have prompted Abby to suddenly in early
1892 become so chatty about her future financial prospects and that
the prospects were suddenly looking much better than they had
previously...and that suggests that not only was there a change made
(or in the process of being made) regarding Andrew's official
designation of who got what, but that something had occured to
suddenly start Andrew contemplating on such matters has his mortality
and what would happen to his estate upon his death...
[WARNING: PURE THEORETICAL SPECULATION FOLLOWS]
Which to me implies that something was going on regarding the status
of Andrew's health, and I suspect that sometime in 1891 (or early in
1892 at the latest) he was diagnosed with a terminal illness; my guess
is that if this was the case, the diagnosis was back in 1891, which
perhaps explains John Morse's sudden appearance back east that same
year. It is a theory that would explain Dr. Bowen's involvement, at
least insomuch that he would have known of Andrew's condition....
Perhaps Andrew did not want his daughters to know about his ill
health, at least not at first. Perhaps he only revealed it to Morse
(and presumably Abby), asking him to come back east to help manage
Andrew's affairs; and perhaps when Andrew revealed to Morse and Bowen
his plans to basically disinherit his own children, they conspired to
murder the couple for the benefit of the Borden daughters. This would
explain why Abby had to die first (because her estate would
automatically go to Andrew for the next hour or so that he was alive),
and would perhaps explain why Dr. Bowen would agree to the murder of
both people, as Abby would be seen as an usurper stealing the Borden
sisters' "rightful" property, and Andrew's killing would perhaps be
seen as a mercy killing by Bowen, especially if Andrew's
disease/condition meant he was facing the prospect of a long and
painful decline before inevitable death...
Morse OTOH seems to have been a fairly amoral character at best, and
probably could have found it just as easy to kill (or have killed)
both Abby and Andrew if the right justification was presented to
We really don't know what Morse's feelings towards Abby were; from
what we have available to study, we are told that their relations were
cordial enough, even seemingly friendly. But I suspect that Morse,
the old horse-trader (equivalent to a used-car salesman today) that he
was, was a master at concealing his true feelings to further his own
aims. He may have resented Abby as much as Emma did (and Lizzie is
alleged to have, although I don't think she resented Abby as much as
Emma did, nor for her whole life), and also viewed Abby as a
money-grubbing usurper; but if he wanted to stay on at least cordial,
if not warm, terms with Andrew Morse would have had to maintained a
facade of being accepting and friendly towards Abby...
But if Andrew announced that he was dying, and that he was putting
together a will that would leave the bulk of his estate to Abby, how
would Morse have reacted, especially if he secretly resented Abby?
Would Dr. Bowen have been sympathetic enough to the Borden sisters'
plight to agree to murder a woman he may have agreed was 'stealing'
what was rightfully Emma's and Lizzie's, and murder a man who was
slated to die a prolonged and painful death anyway (perhaps seeing it
as a 'mercy killing')...
>He's got John killing Abby and Billy killing Andrew!
I'm not sure but that John Morse DIDN'T kill Abby; he really doesn't
have the air-tight alibi that legend has attributed to him, if one
reads the interviews in the contemporary news articles that are
included in David Kent's "Lizzie Borden Sourcebook"...there is a good
20 or 30 minutes unaccounted for from the time he was seen at the Post
Office until he arrived at his niece's house for the alleged visit...
If we accept that the niece and the cousin who actually owned the
house told the truth, they were in separate rooms when Morse allegedly
arrived that morning; they also describe having an 'open house' of
sorts that morning (an unusual time of day to have such an activity),
and describe the morning as being hectic and the house full of people.
In other words, when looked at closely, their statements not only
don't agree on the time that Morse arrived at the house, but show that
they just 'assumed' he was there because someone said he was (in other
words, they didn't actually SEE Morse until some time after he
So not only did the 2 women give different times for when Morse
arrived, or supposedly arrived, they also could not account for his
presence for a goodly portion of the morning, only assuming that he
was about the house somewhere...
Morse himself was extremely vague when pressed for an account of the
time he spent between dropping a letter off at the Post Office and
arriving at the house his niece was staying at, a house that was only
a couple of blocks from the Borden house and about a mile away, and
which lay on the other side of the Borden house from the Post
In other words Morse, who allegedly walked to his niece's, would have
had to retrace his steps and go back by the Borden's house to reach
the niece's residence...
Something else that has been overlooked is the fact that both this
niece and the cousin she was staying with at first stated that DOCTOR
BOWEN WAS AT THEIR HOUSE THAT MORNING, and that Dr. Bowen left their
house at a little after 11 a.m. after receiving a call (they had a
phone at this house) regarding the Borden murders...
This was later amended when the question was raised regarding how Dr.
Bowen could have received a call about the murders some 10 minutes
before the call was made to the Fall River police regarding the
murders...and the inevitable question as to WHO would have made the
call; the other major question was WHY both Bowen and Morse were
attending this 'open house' at the same time, and what perhaps that
would have meant.
So their original description had Dr. Bowen receiving a phonecall at
their house that Andrew Borden had been murdered; this call was said
to have occured at a few minutes after 11 (both the niece and cousin
agreed on the time, and on the time that both Bowen and Morse left
their house); Dr. Bowen left for the Borden house immediately after
the call, and Morse was said to have left at between 11:20 and 11:30
This description of events had some big problems built into it for
both Dr. Bowen and John Morse; first off, it put the two of them in
strange proximity at the time of the murders; second, it has Dr. Bowen
hearing about Andrew Borden's murder almost 10 minutes before the Fall
River police received the call about the murder. Third, it has Morse
leaving at a time that would have been too late for him to have taken
the trolly he claimed to have taken, and for which he had such a
profound memory, even though he couldn't remember much about anything
else he did that morning...
So in a later interview, the niece and cousin amended their story; in
the later version Dr. Bowen was never at their house, but they claimed
that Morse left their house at about 11:15 because HE received a phone
call from Dr. Bowen regarding Andrew being found murdered....
In and of itself this version should have been fine for providing
Morse with an alibi -- except the cousin and niece didn't seem to be
aware of the fact that Morse had given a completely different version
of events to police, claiming to have known nothing about the murders
until he arrived back at the Borden's house shortly before noon and
saw the large crowd gathered outside...
Of course Morse having heard of the murders BEFORE leaving his niece's
house would explain why he did not seem to be the least bit surprised
to find a large crowd gathered outside the Borden house nor interested
in finding out why police were crawling all over the place...but if
that was all there was to it, why lie in the first place? Why not
just tell the police "I was visiting my niece and I received a phone
call telling me that my brother-in-law had been killed and to come
home immediately..."? It seemed that for some reason Morse not only
wanted to disavow any knowledge of the murder before arriving back at
the Borden house, but more importantly disavow any sort of contact,
even if only by phone, with Dr. Bowen that morning...
>And I guess Bridget never saw any of them that day...
What Bridget saw and what Bridget actually knew will remain a
>The recreations of the crimes were the cheesiest I've seen yet.
Agreed. I cringed when I saw that they had the 'slop bucket' where
the women of the house deposited their menstrual pads in the kitchen
instead of down in the cellar...
>Lesbian theory showed Lizzie wearing a fetching "Mr. Fredericks"
>teddy while in bed with Bridget.
Actually it was a long satin nightgown in a 1930s Art Deco style; a
teddy is a short outfit with short panties, either a 2-piece outfit or
a single unit with the panties built in...either way, it wasn't an
outfit appropriate for the era (let alone for Lizzie), unless we are
to believe the nightgown was a little number Lizzie picked up in Paris
on her European trip a few years before... ;-)