Category Archives: Legal & Forensics

Legal proceedings, physical evidence, The Lawyers.

The Fall River Tragedy – Rare Book FREE Online

(Recycled from March, 2009)

The first book to be published on the Lizzie Borden case was right after her Trial in 1893 by Edwin Porter, a reporter for the Fall River Globe and a chum of some of the police officers who provided some inside information.

BK-FRTragedy-multi pages

The first edition, the original, is not easily found and when it does appear, such as on eBay, usually sells for $300 or more.  Some antique book dealers list it as high as $2,000.  The book itself is really not all that rare.  I addressed this issue in detail in a previous blog which can be found by clicking HERE.

Lizzie’s lawyer, Andrew Jennings, on behalf of the Borden sisters and John Morse,  threatened Porter and the publisher with legal action if any pictures of “the family” appeared.  Well, pictures of the “dead family” appeared and no suit followed.

When the book was first published, it was sold on subscription, and one of the “Lizzie Legends” is that Lizzie bought out the printer and had the copies burned.  Not true.  A goodly number were purchased – and to some Fall River notables at that. The one found AT THIS SITE was owned by Charlotte Brayton and she donated it to the Harvard Library.   The Braytons were one of the prominent founding families of Fall River.

By clicking to advance the pages , you will immediately see the handwritten inscription on the inside cover:  “Israel Brayton”.  This particular Israel Brayton* was born in 1874 and died in 1961.  He married Ethel Moison Chace (1880-1960), and they had three children, including Charlotte Brayton (1913 to 1994).  Charlotte never married.  For whatever reasons, Charlotte preferred to donate her father’s copy of The Fall River Tragedy to Harvard rather than the Fall River Historical Society.  Lucky thing for us she did.

The book is rich in photos of key players not found in other books and includes the old “Ferry Street” homestead, the house Andrew deeded to the girls over the Whitehead fiasco.  Well, that house was practically a prototype of the home he purchased in 1872 at 92 Second Street.  Greek revival, two-family home.  Andrew was worth a small fortune by 1872 but he didn’t exactly move “up”.   Anyway, here’s a picture of both houses:



Virtually, the same house.  Two stories and an attic built for 2 families with identical floor plans on the first and second floors.   Lizzie was 12 when they moved and she could not have been too impressed.  The only difference was after a short while they had “the whole house”.  So that was different.



*Source: The Braytons of Somerset and Fall River by Roswell Brayton, page 34. (Note: Charlotte is pictured with several generations of Braytons in this book; also pictured are her father and mother.)


Andrew Borden and the Missing Prince Albert

(Recycled from March 2008)


James E. Windward, “funeral director to the stars” or at least to all the best Fall River families (translation: Bordens, Braytons, Durfees, Chaces, etc.) during Lizzie’s time, was at the Borden house with his assistant around 4:00 pm on August 4, 1892. As Doctor Dolan testified, it was Undertaker Winward who removed the money from Andrew’s clothing and gave it over to him.

Winward had to wait until the in-situ crime scene photographs were taken and preliminary autopsies were concluded before he could claim possession of the bodies for preparation for Saturday’s funeral services. Could it be that Lizzie told him directly or had it conveyed to him as a discreet request by another (Alice? Uncle John?) that she wished her father to be “laid out” in his Prince Albert coat because it was such a signature garment to all those that knew him? The same Prince Albert coat that was photographed crumbled up under his head on the sofa. The same Prince Albert coat that his usual custom was to hang on a hook when switching to his more comfortable coat in which he wore in death? The same Prince Albert coat that is not on the list of clothing buried nor presented at Trial. The same Prince Albert coat that magically disappears like socks in the dryer. The same Prince Albert coat that District Attorney Knowlton alluded to as a possible shield against the assailant’s own clothing during his Trial summation? The same coat that had it been laid out and studied would have had telling blood splatters and not just a large stain from the seeping wounds of the ten hatchet blows to his head.

Let us assume that the Prince Albert coat was indeed removed from the premises by Undertaker Winward at Lizzie’s request. Let us further assume it was subsequently cleaned, pressed and put back upon the corpse of Andrew Borden. It would seem such an appropriate thing to do that his open coffin next to Abby’s in the Sitting Room would warrant narry a comment pertaining to evidence. “How peaceful he looks with his head on the side, and isn’t it natural that he should be wearing that oh so familiar coat?”, one might have commented to another.

Fast Forward – Oak Grove Cemetery:

The mortal remains of Andrew Jackson Borden lay crushed from a collapsed coffin, wood fragments embedded in the decomposed and tattered fabric of a certain Prince Albert coat. A high school ring dangles from his skeletal finger and his skeletal foot stretches out to just inches above Lizzie’s head. Each day at the stroke of 11:00 am, he shoves his foot against her head and in a muffled but strident voice only the dead can hear he speaks out to her: “Bad girl, Lizzie. Bad, bad, girl.” Thus, every day throughout eternity she hears those words at the stroke of Eleven – Lizzie’s own hellish, eternal doom.

I’d be willing to bet if Andrew’s grave were dug up, the collapsed coffin opened, there we would find the mortal remains of Andrew Borden. His head would be detached and displaced but he’d be dressed in that Prince Albert coat.

Clever girl, Lizzie. Clever, clever girl.

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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Legal & Forensics, Oak Grove Cemetery


OJ Sheridan Tells Paranormal Investigator About The Day of the Murders

Really good job here by Oj Sheridan, tour guide at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum. (Side note: The oldest child of Eliza Borden managed to escape her mother’s attempt to push her into the well and went on to live out a long life all in Fall River).

Lizzie Borden Investigation Part 1
Hunters of Ghosts, the HOGs crew get locked down to spend the night in the infamous Lizzie Borden House. We captured some amazing audio and visual

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Owning the Lizzie Borden Name

Image by

Image from Fall River Historical Society

Came across this article from 2009, but it’s worth showing again.

Note my comment at the end.    LINK

After three years, Fall River, under Mayor Will Flanagan, is finally beginning to embrace it’s #1 tourist attraction.

(Hatchet Logo Designed by Faye Musselman a ® Trademark of Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast / Museum)


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Lizzie Borden Ponderables

Have you ever wondered why:

Winnie French was so adamant to testify on behalf of Grace Howe & Helen Leighton at the Probate Hearing against Charles Cook’s claim of ownership of the Henry House?

Orrin Gardner had so little tribute in ink when he died, although it was highly deserved?

What specifically Bailey Borden sold of Lizzie & Emma’s possession in his Fall River store acquired from Hamilton Gardner?

Why there was so little reporting of Lizzie writing a blank check to Ernest Terry as she lay dying on her last day of life?  (All those people at the bank knew.)

Why Charles Cook parked his car in Lizzie’s garage and then charged the heating to her estate?

Why Ernest Terry went to work for Charles Cook after Lizzie died?

Why Grace Howe, with a keen eye for antiques, left so much of it?

Why so many of Lizzie’s good books ended up with Marian Reilly?

Well, I hope to have answers to some of this to post later.

Back home and much to catch up with.


Note:   Some people wonder the same thing as stated in this comment I received from “Norman Pound”:

“Inquisitive thirst comes on strong as I wait for your book and/or screenplay! This theatrical passage is evidence that it is impossible to endure another year without the pleasure of your literary talent and aptitude for investigation collected in manuscript form. Us Lizzie lovers await, chatting numerously, “When Phaye? When?””

The answer is:  “I don’t do things in a hurry.”   ;)

There’s much to wonder about in the Lizzie Borden case, whether at its core or on the periphery.  Here’s just a few things:

Have you ever wondered if Lizzie knew Nance O’Neil had married Alfred Devereaux Hickman in 1916, becoming his second wife?   (A widower for only one year, his first wife died in 1915).

And, have you ever wondered if Lizzie went to any of those movies Nance O’Neil was in?  She certainly lived long enough to read, if not actually see, Nance’s transition from the theatre to the silent screen and then in speaking roles.

And – as to those movies – here’s an interesting tidbit:

John B. Colton (1889–1946),  was a New York dramatist whose plays include Nine Pine Street (1933), based on the Borden murder case.  (He also co-wrote Rain (1922), based on a Somerset Maugham story).   But here’s the thing – Colton co-wrote “Call of the Flesh”, a film featuring Nance O’Neil released August 16, 1930.  And less than 3 years later on April 27, 1933, Nine Pine Street premiered at the Longacre Theatre and starred Lillian Gish as “Effie Holden.”  It played for 28 performances and closed in mid May, 1933.  Do you wonder if  Colton spoke to Nance about Lizzie Borden and was thereby inspired to write Nine Pine Street?  Something to ponder.

Here’s what was going on around that time:

February 18, 1933 New York Magazine article on LMH “the mysterious alter ego of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
March 24, 1933 4th & Final Probate Court acctg. filed by Cook on Lizzie’s Will – period Nov. 28, 1932 thru March 3, 1933.
March 3, 1933 Grace Hartley Howe & Helen Leighton sign 4th & Final Account of Probate.
March 4, 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. president.
April 13, 1933 Emma’s estate sells Maplecroft.                                        (LR561)
April 27, 1933 The play: Nine Pine Street opens on Broadway at Longacre Theatre starring Lillian Gish as Lizzie Borden.

And here’s something else I have always wondered about:

Why didn’t Abby have Bridget fix eggs on that August 4, 1892 Thursday morning instead of the 5 day old cold mutton and mutton soup?  After all, Uncle John Morse had picked them up from Frederick Eddy at Andrew’s farm in Swansea just the evening before and brought them back per Andrew’s request.  Those eggs were most likely in the kitchen pantry Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  I wonder if Abby asked Andrew what he wanted for breakfast and suggested the eggs.  I wonder if Andrew, with both testeronic and assertive dominance said: “No.  I’ll be selling those eggs.  Serve the mutton.  Waste not, want not.”   If so, one cannot help but wince and sigh yet again for poor Abby.

Too bad Lizzie didn’t get up earlier.  Abby might have asked her what she wanted for BREAKFAST instead of (according to Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony) what she wanted for dinner, i.e., the noon day meal.  I wonder if Lizzie would have stomped her foot and said: “Mutton?!!  No!!! I want eggs!”

Just a few things to wonder about.  There’s more, but I’m out of time and American Idol is on with the results of the next four to get booted off.

Hmmm, something to ponder.



Lizzie Borden Past & Present plus The Knowlton Papers Available Here!


Have you been wanting affordable copies of Len Rebello’s Lizzie Borden Past & Present? And have you been on the hunt for the Fall River Historical Society’s The Knowlton Papers? Well, you’ve landed in the right place.

Now – Are you looking for these?


Well, I’ve got several of each and the prices will be the best you can get. You can purchase  one (or both).  Simply email me at

These are $145 each.  The Knowlton Papers are generally around $400 these days.  All have dust jackets.

Lizzie Borden Past & Present by Leonard Rebello are in vg condition with dust jackets.  Some of the Rebello’s are autographed by the author and come with mylar covers.  Again, only $145 each  or $165 for autographed copy.

These books are OOP and hard to find, especially at this price.

First person to email and send in payment, and payment clears, gets the books!   🙂


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William H. Moody for the Prosecution of Lizzie Borden


The prosecution team in the matter of the Commonwealth vs. Lizzie Andrew Borden was led by 3 times Governor George D. Robinson but included the formidable William Henry Moody, whose stellar career surpassed all others associated with the case.  An extraordinarily handsome man, in my opinion, he remained a life-long bachelor.

If Lizzie continued her reading of Harper’s Weekly, she may have seen the December 29, 1906 issue below and its cartoon cover story on one of the men who played a part in a “most interesting occasion.”  Most all of the text which follows comes from that article.


William Henry Moody was born on December 23, 1853, in Newbury, Massachusetts, the son of farmers. He graduated from Phillips Andover Academy in 1872 and Harvard in 1876, leaving Harvard Law School after four months to read law under Richard Henry Dana. After admission to the state bar in 1878, Moody practiced law in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he was elected city solicitor (1888-1889). In 1890, he was named the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Massachusetts.


In 1895, he was elected as a Republican to fill a vacant seat in Congress, and subsequently elected three more times. He impressed his congressional colleagues with his command of legislative details and debating skills, and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.


Theodore Roosevelt first met Moody in 1895 and quickly came to admire a man with a similar physical build, athletic interests, and a progressive Republican perspective. In 1902, Roosevelt appointed Moody as secretary of the navy.


Moody served in that capacity for two years, working to expand and improve the U.S. naval fleet, and reform the navy’s organization.


In June 1904, the president named him as the U.S. Attorney General. In his new position, Moody became a key advisor to the president and played a leading role in the prosecution of the administration’s antitrust lawsuits, successfully arguing Swift and Company v. United States (1905) before the U.S. Supreme Court. He agreed with Roosevelt’s distinction between “good” and “bad” trusts.

MoodNavyThe Justice Department under Moody negotiated agreements with large business corporations that it deemed were working in the public interest, such as International Harvester and U.S. Steel, but prosecuted Standard Oil because its economic power and business activities were considered contrary to the public interest. As attorney general, Moody took a case concerning peonage of blacks to the Supreme Court, and ordered contempt proceedings against a sheriff who allowed a black rape suspect to be lynched.

MoodycartoonHarper’s Weekly was concerned about the centralization of governmental power during the administration of Republican Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), and in December 1906 criticized an address in which Secretary of State Elihu Root called for federal intervention in situations where the states failed to act. Root’s speech, which the newspaper assumed was actually written by President Roosevelt, is excerpted in the caption of the featured cartoon. The cartoon warns that William Moody, whom the president had recently named to the U.S. Supreme Court, will be a judicial tool by which Roosevelt can expand federal powers at the expense of state control through new “constructions of the Constitution.” On the right, Secretary of War William Howard Taft sits studying the “Simplified Constitution” while waiting his turn for the next appointment to the Supreme Court.


When Justice Henry Brown resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court in 1906, President Roosevelt tried unsuccessfully to convince Taft to take the position and then considered appointing a Southern Democrat. Finally, on December 12, 1906, the president announced the selection of Moody, emphasizing the attorney general’s nationalist philosophy by describing him as a follower of Alexander Hamilton and John Marshall, not states’ rights advocates Thomas Jefferson and John C. Calhoun. The Senate approved the nomination on December 17.

Moody-JusticeDuring Moody’s brief tenure on the Supreme Court, he wrote 67 opinions, including 5 dissents. His most famous dissent came in the Employers’ Liability Cases (1908) in which his minority opinion upheld the constitutionality of a congressional statute protecting employees involved in interstate commerce. The constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, he argued, included the authority to legislate labor-management relations. Despite his general support of enhanced federal powers, Moody’s most important majority opinion (later overturned) ruled that the federal constitutional provision in the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination did not apply in state courts (Twining v. State of New Jersey, 1908). Moody’s judicial career was cut short when he developed debilitating rheumatism in early 1909 and was increasingly forced to neglect his judicial responsibilities. In 1910, Congress passed legislation that permitted Moody to qualify for federal retirement benefits, and he retired from the Supreme Court.

A saddened President Roosevelt remarked, “there is not a public servant, at this particular time, that the public could so ill afford to lose.” Eventually incapable of moving his arms and legs, Moody lived seven more years with the painful disease, cared for by his sister until his death on July 2, 1917.