The Strange Case of Lizzie Borden slide talk June 23
Camden — The brutal double murder of Lizzie Borden’s parents in Fall River, Mass. in 1892 remains the most notorious unsolved mystery in United States history. Lizzie was vilified and demonized by both police and press. Arrested within 48 hours, no other suspect was ever arrested.
Dr. Richard Cornelia will present a slide talk on “The Strange Case of Lizzie Borden” at the Camden Public Library at 6:30 p.m. on June 23.
“This case was characterized by false press reports, judicial misconduct, police abuse, and political excess,” said Cornelia of Lincolnville, in a news release. Cornelia’s talk will use vintage photos and discuss all aspects of the crime. “And yes,” he said, “the likely murderer will be identified.”
Fall River is forever linked with the name of Lizzie Borden. There are still residents of Fall River who remember standing in front of the Borden home and reciting:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done,
Gave her father forty-one!
The Borden house is now the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River. The owner, Donald Woods, said “like it or not, she put Fall River on the map.”
Lizzie graduated from a public high school in Fall River and became involved with a variety of organizations consistent with the image expected of a young woman from a well-off family in a small New England city. She was a member in good standing of Central Congregational Church, where she taught Sunday school.
Serving as secretary-treasurer of the Christian Endeavor Society, she was also active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and in the antipoverty Fruit and Flower League. Both Lizzie and her sister Emma lived at home, and in outward appearance Lizzie was an admirable and always composed young woman devoted to good works. She awaited trial in jail for almost a year as police searched for a murder weapon and other evidence, and while prosecutors built a case against her. Lizzie continued to live in Fall River after the conclusion of the trial.
According to Wikipedia, the Borden murders were among America’s first crimes to play out under the glare of the mass media. The case was covered extensively by New York’s strenuously competing newspapers, and Lizzie Borden granted interviews in which she tried to influence public opinion. To forestall the impression that she seemed emotionless in the face of her parents’ deaths, she told the New York Recorder, “They say I don’t show any grief. Certainly I don’t in public. I never did reveal my feelings and I cannot change my nature now.” When her trial finally began, on June 5, 1893, Borden had a celebrity attorney in her corner: former Massachusetts Gov. George Robinson. One of the prosecutors, Frank Moody, was a future U.S. attorney general.
The talk by Dr. Cornelia is one of the Camden library’s “American Cultural Journey” lectures through the summer of 2011, culminating in a talk by historian and author David McCullough on Aug. 13.