The Lizzie Borden House in Massachusetts is easily one of the most well-known haunted locations in the world. The property has been covered on numerous TV shows, documentaries and is the subject of books discussing a wide range of theories. Whether you believe Lizzie killed her parents, a stranger committed the act or an illegitimate son of her father is to blame, there’s no denying the fact that something weird happened in the house and may continue to happen in one form or another to this day.
Haunted Massachusetts: The Lizzie Borden House
Lizzie was born to Andrew and Sarah Borden on July 19th, 1860. Sarah tragically passed away soon after delivery due “uterine congestion.” The family included an older sister, Emma and a middle daughter who died at the age of two.
Andrew took Abby Durfree Gray as his second wife in 1865. The family lived together quietly however the unassuming front may have concealed unbearable tension building within the household.
Andrew Borden came from wealthy, influential bloodlines but struggled financially when he was a young adult. As he aged, he managed to find prosperity through the furniture and (ironically) casket manufacturing business. Despite his comfortable financial status, he was still extremely frugal. He owned significant amounts of property, was president of the Union Savings Bank and director at the Durfee Safe Deposit and Trust Company. Despite the titles and income, Andrew refused to install plumbing in his home and chose a very modest lifestyle.
He started giving gifts to other members of the family. This angered Lizzie and Emma. Relatives of their step mother were given a house, which prompted the daughters to demand a rental property. Andrew gave them what they wanted but they later sold it back for cash.
The entire household became severely ill before the murders. The family physician stated it was related to consuming food left out on the stove for days but Abby believed they had been poisoned. Her husband was not known a well-liked man in the area.
Andrew Borden had breakfast on August 4th, 1892 and went through his usual routine. He returned to the house at 10:45 am. Bridget Sullivan, the family’s maid, was on the third floor cleaning windows when Lizzie frantically shouted up at her from the lower floor around 11:10 am. She yelled “Maggie, come quick! Father’s dead. Somebody came in and killed him.” The use of the name Maggie was not strange at the time because this was the name of a previous maid which the girls usually used when addressing Bridget.
Andrew was discovered slumped over on the couch, deceased. He had been struck 10 or 11 times with a hatchet or similar weapon. Neighbors and doctors were called over to tend to the oddly calm and detached Lizzie. Abby’s mangled body was found in the upstairs guest bedroom. Abby had died from 19 blows to the head, which crushed her skull.
A handle-less hatchet was found in the basement by police. Lizzie was arrested on August 11th. This began what would later be recognized as a landmark trial because of the media circus that surrounded the proceedings. Lizzie was eventually acquitted, although many still believed she was the murderer.
Lizzie and Emma moved into a large, modern home located in a fashionable community. Lizzie switched to “Lizbeth” and named their new property “Maplecroft.”
Life was not great for the girls after the trial ended. Many locals ostracized them. Emma and Lizzie did not get along well during this time and Emma eventually moved out after an argument over a party Lizzie gave for stage and silent cinema actress Nance O’Neil.
Lizzie survived to the age of 66, dying after a bought with pneumonia in 1927. Emma lived to the age of 76 and passed away in a nursing home in New Hampshire.
Both daughters are buried side by side in Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River. Andrew and Abby’s bodies were also interred in the family plot at Oak Grove, where Andrew’s first wife and middle daughter were already buried. The murdered Borden’s heads had been removed during the trial so their skulls could be used as evidence. The skulls were later buried at the foot of each body so the whole family is together again (in its entirety).
Paranormal Activity at the Lizzie Borden House
A variety of paranormal reports have come from the Lizzie Borden House. Of course it’s important to remember that a location with this kind of notoriety is also going to attract thrill seekers and the less scrupulous interested in making a buck off of ghost footage or sounds.
Despite a lot of questionable paranormal content out there related to the Lizzie Borden House, the building has produced some intriguing stories. Paranormal TV show Ghost Adventures filmed their October 21st, 2011 episode at the house. During the episode, they related stories about the murders of other family members on the property before Andrew and Abby’s grisly attack.
Paranormal investigators Matt Moniz and Tim Weisberg were in the basement of the Lizzie Borden House during a tour when a woman in the group was suddenly scratched by an invisible entity. Weisberg responded by saying “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” as he stood by a door. After antagonizing the entity, Weisberg was violently shoved backwards. No living person had touched him during the incident. The assault was aggressive enough to leave obvious hand prints along Weisberg’s raised arms.
Moniz set up a camera on the third floor during the investigation, focused on a bed. A few people walked into the room and, as they did, the camera inexplicably shifted to look at them. They tried to recreate the incident in case someone had accidentally pulled a wire or somehow shifted the camera. They could not reproduce the effect. After the attempt, they set the camera back up and it immediately did the same thing again, turning to face the people standing in the room. No one was near the device and no explanation was ever found. Click here to jump to this segment in the Ghost Adventures episode.
Tour guide Eleanor Thibault also shared her experiences in the creepy Borden House basement. She said she went down to get supplies one day. As she moved down the stairs she heard the distinct sounds of footsteps behind her. When she turned to look, no one was there. She promptly exited after the incident.
Some investigators hold seances at the Lizzie Borden House in an attempt to connect with whatever energy may linger there. Psychic Medium Liz Nowicki participated in one such seance when her view grew fuzzy and she became disoriented.
An NBC news segment covering the Lizzie Borden House also describes reports of flashes of energy focused on the couch where Andrew was slain. A photograph allegedly shows a bizarre cloud hovering where he met his end. See the video clip below for the full segment.
NBC news segment covering the Lizzie Borden House
The Lizzie Borden House Today
The Lizzie Borden House is still standing today and is open to visitors as a creepy bed and breakfast and museum. Many flock to the site to capture evidence of the paranormal and to learn more about events surrounding the historic murder trial. The location and its story continues to appear on crime and paranormal TV shows. It was featured on the July 23rd, 2001 episode of Unsolved Mysteries and the October 21st, 2005 episode of Ghost Hunters. There’s also a nearly hour-long Scared!: The Lizzie Borden House documentary. The crime and those involved are now part of the past but the gruesome and haunted legacy of the Lizzie Borden House lives on.
Have you been to the Lizzie Borden House (or would you like to go)? Share your personal experiences or investigative approach to this location in the comments.