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The Lizzie Borden House - Fall River Ma.

June 2009


Investigation Report





Lizzie Borden took an Axe …

The Haunted Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast


Written by Karen Mossey

Copyright: All rights reserved.


On August 4th 1892 one of the most heinous and bloody murders of the time occurred at 92 Second Street in Fall River Massachusetts. The hatchet murders of Andrew Borden and his wife Abby sent the town of Fall River reeling. What made it all the more shocking was that the primary suspect in the murders was Andrew’s very own daughter Lizzy.

Andrew Borden was a very prominent man in the town of Fall River. His first wife Sarah had died when his daughters Emma and Lizzie were very young and he had remarried a woman named Abby Durfee Gray. The daughters never cared for the step mother and there were often rivalries that came up due to the things their Father bequeathed to Abby’s family of which the girls believed to be rightfully belonging to them. Mr. Borden, it is said, was thought to be worth 500,000 dollars. This was a great deal of money in the day, all of which would be inherited by Abby Borden and not the daughters, should Andrew die. Lizzy therefore never referred to Abby as a Mother figure but always as “Mrs. Borden.” All of these factors made for a very tense family relationship in the Borden household.

So what do most theorize happened on that fateful day in August of 1892 is that Lizzy, whom some believed also suffered from a mild seizure disorder related to female menses, took it upon herself to eliminate the source of her rivalry, namely Abby; but as her father came home a bit too soon, it became necessary to take him out as well.

The family had not been feeling to well for a few days. Some believe they had flu like symptoms but other think it may have been poisoning. Even Abby, herself, believed they had been poisoned. Andrew, Abby and even the maid Bridgett Sullivan all experienced the nausea. Strangely, Lizzie did not. Ironically, Lizzie had been to the drug store inquiring about obtaining some poisonous prussic acid to kill moths in clothing, but the pharmacist, afterwards, told the court he had not sold it to her.

Lizzy did not join the family for breakfast on the day of the murders. She instead stayed in her room. Emma was away visiting friends in Fairhaven. Bridgett Sullivan, the servant, was told by Abby at breakfast that morning to wash the outside windows. Mr. Borden then went out on business which left Abby and Lizzy in the house alone. Because of a previous theft in the house, Mr. Borden was obsessive about locking all the doors and made sure this rule was carried out by every family member. So when he left the doors were locked and only the family and Bridgett had keys. Bridgett went outside and began her window washing. Now only Lizzie and Abby were in the home. Sometime around 10ish Abby Borden was brutally hacked to death. Experts believe she knew and actually faced her killer without fear initially. The first blow was deemed to have come from the front and to the temple and once Abby fell to the floor; the killer is thought to have straddled her and delivered 19 more blows to the back of her head. It was so forceful that a strand of her hair attached to the ax flew off and was found on the bed spread. She was left lying face down on the floor in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile Andrew had come home a bit early and tried but was unable to unlock the front door. Bridget who was still at her task of window washing heard the frustrated Andrew and came to help him. Later, under testimony at Lizzie’s trial, Bridget heard Lizzie’s laughter coming from the area of the staircase after Andrew and she had unlocked the front door. Here they were met by Lizzie. Lizzie, now realizing her Father had come home earlier then expected knew he would be looking for Abby. She quickly made up the story when he asked for Abby’s whereabouts that she had received a note and gone out to help a friend but that she would be home to prepare his lunch. She thought it would be a good idea since he had not been feeling well earlier to lie down and rest. Bridget in the meantime, herself not feeling well perhaps from heat exhaustion, decided to go to her attic room and lie down as well. Whilst Andrew closed his eyes and around 11:00ish, all leads point to Ms. Ax wheeling Lizzy striking an immediate blow to her Fathers temple so fierce it popped his eye right from the socket and onto his cheek. It is pretty certain the first blow ended Mr. Borden’s life but it was followed up with several more to most assuredly guarantee his demise.

According to the inquiry Lizzie then ran to Bridget and asked her to come quickly and obtain help and stated that her Father was dead; killed by an intruder. Bridget then went to get the doctor and a neighbor, Mrs. Churchill, came into the house. It was Mrs. Churchill and Bridgett who eventually came upon the body of Abby in the upstairs room. Mrs. Churchill ascended the stairs and could see the body under the bed from half way up the stairs. She refused to go any further and sent Bridget to identify the body.

Lizzy always seemed to have an alibi. I was outside or I was in the barn eating pears. Someone must have snuck in and killed them both.

Autopsies were performed right there in the dining room of the home. The back of Abby’s head was shaven to reveal the penetration point of the ax. What was left of Andrew’s head was examined and the eyeball placed, as best as could, back into the socket. They were laid out in the dining room for visitors’ and the bodies would be placed in a tomb before final burial. Because of the inquest and impending trial the heads were removed from the body and held as evidence to be presented in the trial. Abby and Andrew were ultimately buried but without their heads. The heads were buried later and after the trial three feet down in the approximate place where the head on a body would be.

Lizzie was the prime suspect and was interrogated and incarcerated. The trial was only a few weeks long and arduous but eventually because of inconclusive evidence and the rise of the women’s separatists movement which sympathized with Lizzie, she was acquitted of all charges and lived a shunned life of an old maid for her remaining days in Fall River at the Maplecroft Mansion that she and her sister Emma purchased. She died in June of 1927 of pneumonia. Emma died nine days later having sustained a fatal fall.

In ensuing years our guide told us the Inn was used as a boarding house and owned by several other owners.

Now for our overnight adventure in the Lizzie Borden house. We arrived and felt an immediate pressure just walking through the front door. I really wanted the John Morse room. This is the room where Abby was murdered and where so many stories of frightening experiences by former guests had been reported. Since no one else wanted that room it was mine for the taking. The students and adults we were with had plenty of space. We had the whole house. Most of the kids wanted to stay in the attic as they believed this would have the least possibility of ghostly happenings.

After everyone was settled in we all had some down time before the tour began after 8:00 PM so we decided to visit the cemetery where the Borden’s were buried and Maplecroft mansion where Lizzy and Emma lived out their lives after leaving the Borden home on Second street. It was a damp gray day which inhibited our visit a bit but definitely added an ambiance to the whole nature of a haunted adventure. Lizzie and Emma are buried in the family plot with Abby and Andrew.

Now on to the experiences we had during our investigation there. You could feel a heavy pressure even as you walked through the door and entered into the Borden home. Because we knew much of the history this added to the angst of what we thought we would encounter during our overnight stay there. The first thing we did upon entering was to search out a favorite room and put our equipment and belongings down. I, of course, went straight to the John Morse room where Mrs. Borden was killed. I was all excited by this opportunity and without fear….at least at this point. Later that night, after all the stories I was told by our guide and hostess and a very eerie EVP captured in that room by Mike, I have to admit the fear of being in there alone was creeping up on me. Our guide Shelly had told us of big and brave Harley guys that stayed in the room and ran out screaming half way through their stay in the room. Okay, that raised a few hairs on my arms but still I remained brave. But then when Mike captured a most bone chilling EVP that said “Here they Diiiiiieeee,” I thought am I going to be able to do this? Well as it turned out two of the chaperones had chosen the Emma Borden room and one decided to sleep in the parlor with several of the students. Not wanting to sleep alone Suzanne decided to share the murder room with me. Now here’s the surprise. We had no encounters during the night and into the wee hours of the morning. I was even able to catch a few hours of very comfortable and sound sleep. Was I surrounded by too much protection? Did Abby take a liking to me and decide not to frighten us? Who knows? But the experience, nevertheless, was without haunted incident. Not so for those in the other rooms of the Inn.

In the Abby and Andrew Borden room one chaperone, who stayed in this room alone, experienced the strong smell of roses (Abby’s favorite scent and something our host had told us many other guests had experienced). She also saw a mist float by the mirror and the sounds of muffled voices. She turned her head in the bed when she heard a noise and saw an object on the bureau move across it. All this and yet she remained quiet, fearless and in control. She said the happenings were obvious but she was not fearful. Abby and Andrew were more then likely just going about their business. It is often thought that spirits can coexist with us and many who have strong attachments to places will remain there or visit there just as if it were still their time of physical life. Their intention is not to harm and often they are not even aware that someone else is there. It is a residual type of haunting where daily events are simply playing out over and over as they did in the time they lived.

Then there were the phenomena that were occurring in the attic. The students initially thought the attic would be the least haunted area of the Inn. The attic served as Bridget Sullivan’s room. No one died there as far as we knew and so why would anyone haunt there. But rumor had it and our guide told us a tragedy may have occurred near the home with two children drowning in a well. The Inn has even placed toys in the several chests in the attic for the ghosts of these children. Several of the students and chaperones that stayed here heard the sounds of marbles rolling around in the chests. Two of the girls said their beds starting shaking and they could hear footsteps coming up the stairs. But here again, when I listened to them tell their story to me I sensed they were not afraid. Startled, indeed, but not afraid.

We all shared our experiences over a delicious breakfast and finished off the morning trying to record for a few more messages from of unseen friends. In one recording we were almost sure when we all said good bye and thank you we received a nice “good bye kids,” response. The overall experience was a fascinating one for us all and several of us can’t wait to go again.

So unless you have a fear of sharp objects and things like a body falling to the floor that go bump in the night, you should definitely plan a visit to the very haunted Lizzy Borden Bed and Breakfast. The tour you get from your very informed guide is a lesson in history and a true reenactment of the actual crime. It is quite the entertainment. The breakfast you get served the next morning includes some of the original food, such as Johnny cakes, that Abby and Andrew had for their last meal that fatal morning. There is a gift shop for a keepsake or two. But most exciting about your visit there is that you may, if you are lucky, have an actual paranormal encounter of your own. So hold onto your head because plenty happens there and as we were told mainly between 2:00 and 5:00 AM. You can find out all about it here at this link to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast. http://www.lizzie-borden.com/Default.aspx



Why Didn't You Die - Recorded by Mike Sullivan.     An voice says "Here" in a very drawn out way followed by a girl who seems to be humming. This is followed by a low whisper that we believe says "Why didn't you die".

Knocking - Recorded by Karen Mossey.    Karen says "So Sorry Abby" and her recorder captured two knocks that were not heard at the time she spoke.

I'm Here - Recorded by Mike Sullivan.

Bye Bye - Recorded By Karen Mossey as we were getting ready to leave.

Good Night - Recorded by Mike Sullivan.       Mike says "Good Night" and a female voice says "Good Night" back to him.

Who's There - Recorded By Mike Sullivan.

It's Alright For Now - Recorded by Karen Mossey.

Shutup JoAnne - Recorded by Karen Mossey.    Our friend JoAnne calls to Karen. Because Karen is recording someone says "Shutup JoAnne" and the spirit mimics it.

Thank You, We Like Her - Recorded by Karen Mossey.      Karen asks "Is there a message for JoAnne?"

Get Out - Recorded by Mike Sullivan.   During the same recording session, Karen asks "Is there a particular reason why JoAnne feels drawn to the Lizzie Borden House?"

Well, Ya - Recorded by Mike Sullivan. 

Never Said That - Recorded by Karen Mossey.

I'm Coming - Recorded by Karen Mossey.

I'm Cut - Recorded By Mike Sullivan.

Good Morning - Recorded by Mike Sullivan.

Help Me - Recorded By Mike Sullivan.

Thief - Recorded by Mike Sullivan.       The word "Thief" was captured by his recorder just before Leo speaks.





The Lizzie Borden House - Taken by Karen Mossey. 

Taken By Karen Mossey


Taken By Karen Mossey

Our Wonderful Tour Guide Shelley, Reenacts The Murder Of Mr. Borden, played here by Mike


Taken By Karen Mossey





The Maplecroft Mansion Where Lizzie Lived After The Murders

These Three Pictures Were Taken By Karen Mossey Seconds Apart (In Sequence From Left To Right)



The Six Pictures Above Were Taken By Leo Monfet Using Infrared Film

The Three Interesting Photos Above Were Taken By Our Good Friend JoAnne  

Copyright 2009. Karen Mossey/Mike Sullivan. All rights reserved.