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"The Strange Man" (Part 2 of 3 -- The Mysterious Loiterer[s])

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  • revcoal@mindspring.com
    The following are all from The Lizzie Borden Sourcebook, by David Kent. My comments are in parenthesis... Attempts have been made to-day to connect John V.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 16, 2004
      The following are all from The Lizzie Borden Sourcebook, by David Kent. My comments are in parenthesis...

      "Attempts have been made to-day to connect John V. Morse
      "with the crime in the role of accessory, by the story that a
      "stranger seen on the steps of the Borden house on Monday,
      "tallies in description with the chief of a band of itinerant
      "horse traders whose headquarters are at Westport. This is
      "near South Dartmouth, where Morse had been staying
      "previous to the murder. He had done some business in
      "horses and from that theorists jump to connecting him with
      "the gang."

      -- The New York Herald, August 6, 1892 (Kent, p. 18, col. 2)


      "The residence of Dr. Chagnon on Third street is situated
      "close to the Borden property, both being divided by a fence
      "about seven feet high. Mrs. Chagnon and her daughter
      "Martha, say that Wednesday night about 12 o'clock they
      "distinctly saw a man jump over the fence into the Borden
      "yard, and subsequently they heard a slight noise in the barn.
      "The women were much frightened and told the story to the
      "doctor on the morning of the day when the murder took
      "place. Owing to the darkness of the street, they could not
      "see the man plainly enough to give any description of his

      -- The Fall River Herald, August 8, 1892 (Kent, p.24, col. 2)

      (One wonders why, if these 2 women were so frightened, that they waited until the next morning to mention it to Dr. Chagnon?)

      "SHE SAW A MAN

      "Mrs. Chace, who lives over the store of Vernon Wade's
      "grocery, the second house south of the scene of the
      "tragedy, says that about 11 o'clock she was on the roof
      "of a building east of her house hanging clothes. While
      "there she could overlook Mr. Borden's yard. At the time
      "a man was sitting on the fence filling his pockets with
      "pears. He appeared to be a medium sized man, but as
      "he was in a crouched position it was impossible for her
      "to tell his height accurately. On looking up he noticed
      "her watching him, and immediately jumped the fence and
      "passed through the east end of Dr. Kelly's property to
      "Third street."

      -- The Fall River Herald, August 11, 1892 (Kent, p. 26, col. 2)

      (The Kelly house is the first house to the south of the Borden's; east of Chace's house would be towards the backyards of hers, Kelly's, and Borden's residences -- putting her right where masons were supposed to be working [see below])...

      "There was...a fine circumstantial story let loose in the
      "morning papers about the 'unknown man'...This mysterious
      "being called last Monday at Mr. Borden's house, leaving a
      "companion in a buggy outside. Just before the time of the
      "murder, that is about half-past-ten Thursday morning, he
      "called again and was afterward seen climbing over the
      "fence at the rear of the house, being easily distinguishable
      "by a pair of baseball shoes and his odd patterned trousers.
      "Even the name of the witness, a respectable woman who
      "lives opposite the Bordens, was given to bolster up this
      "interesting narrative. Then the story led to a neighboring
      "village and a band of gypsy horse dealers, and then the
      "strange man disappears."

      -- The New York Herald, August 7, 1892 (Kent, p. 30, col. 2)

      (A couple of things to note in the above article -- first off, it is obvious that The Herald has decided to discount any and all witness accounts of seeing anyone strange hanging about the Borden residence. Second, unless The Herald had additional information which isn't included in this article, then there is no EVIDENCE that the man seen going into the Borden residence on Monday morning, the "strange man" hanging around on Second street Thursday morning, and the man seen pilfering pears around the time that Andrew was murdered are one and the same man...they could be 3 different individuals, but The Herald makes it seem like they are all one man...

      (And perhaps none of them had anything to do with the murder -- but the pear-pilferer at least had a view of the Borden's yard at the time Lizzie said she went to the barn, and so at least would have been valuable as a witness, and yet this is discounted by The Herald and, as we shall see, by the police...)

      "Patrolman Hayes distinguished himself to-night by suddenly
      "reporting that on the morning of the murder he had seen a
      "man loitering about in front of the Borden residence. He gave
      "a sort of half description of the man. As nobody else saw him
      "and Hayes did not explain why he had held back his information
      "the clew (sic) is not regarded as greatly important."

      -- The New York Herald, August 7, 1892 (Kent, p. 32, col. 1)

      (The Herald obviously didn't do its homework, as obviously Dr. Handy also saw a strange man that morning...)

      "A statement of a boy that on Thursday morning, the morning
      "of the murder, he saw a man on the fence at the rear of the
      "Borden house. Great stress has been laid on this as showing
      "how the murderer got away.

      "But the man whom the boy saw was found today and turned
      "out to be a harmless mason. There are pear trees in the
      "Borden back yard and the pears are about ripe. The mason
      "was at work in the yard immediately behind the Bordens' and
      "climbed the fence to get a pear. The boy identified the mason
      "and the mason acknowledged his share in the performance,
      "and thus disposed of another promising clew. (sic)."

      -- The New York Herald, August 8, 1892 (Kent, p. 35, col. 1)

      (Except that Mrs. Chace should have had a clear line of sight to where these masons were working, but she never mentions them in her account, and she has the man she saw jumping down into the Kellys' property and then going to Third Street and leaving the scene -- NOT going back to work with the masons on the property immediately in back of the Bordens'.

      (It's a shame that The Herald didn't establish the TIME that this boy [could this be the same boy that was mentioned earlier?] saw his pear eater -- it may not have been the same incident as Mrs. Chace's. Even if the pear-pilferer(s) wasn't involved in the murder, one would think the police would be interested in knowing what he may or may not have seen occurring on or about the Borden property or in the house at the time.)

      "Lucy Collet then took the stand. She said she lived on Borden
      "street, but on the day of the murder was on the piazza of Dr.
      "Chagnon's house about 15 minutes to 11 and stayed there until
      "11 o'clock. Her testimony was short and of no importance.
      "When cross-examined by Mr. Jennings, she admitted that a man
      could have gone through the Chagnon yard without her seeing
      "him. During the morning she had seen two men. One was a Mr.
      "Robinson of Somerset, who called at Dr. Chagnon's for medicine
      "and another was a man whom she did not know..."

      -- The Fall River Herald (Kent, p. 169, col. 1)

      (Interesting that she didn't see any pear-pilfering mason...)

      June ;-)
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