Newspaper Accounts

August 4, 1892

The Fall River Herald

The Fall River Herald

A Venerable Citizen and His Aged Wife
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Borden Lose Their Lives
Police Searching Actively for the Fiendish Murderer.

The community was terribly shocked this morning to hear that an aged man and his wife had fallen victims to the thirst of a murderer, and that an atrocious deed had been committed, The news spread like wildfire and hundreds poured into Second street.  The deed was committed at No. 62 Second street, where for years Andrew J. Borden and his wife had lived in happiness.

It is supposed that an axe was the instrument used, as the bodies of the victims are hacked almost beyond recognition.  Since the discovery of the deed the street in front of the house has been blocked by an anxious throng, eagerly waiting for the news of the awful tragedy and vowing vengeance on the assassin.


The first intimation the neighbors had of the awful crime was a groaning followed by a cry of "murder !"  Mrs. Adelaide Churchill, who lives next door to the Bordens, ran over and heard Miss Borden cry: "Father is stabbed; run for the police !"

Mrs. Churchill hurried across the way to the livery stable to get the people there to summon the police.  John Cunningham who was passing, learned of the murder and telephoned to police headquarters and Officer Allen was sent to investigate the case.

Meanwhile the story spread rapidly and a crowd gathered quickly, A HERALD reporter entered the house, and a terrible sight met his view.  On the lounge in the cosy sitting room on the first floor of the building lay Andrew J. Borden, dead.  His face presented a sickening sight.  Over the left temple a wound six by four had been made as if the head had been pounded with the dull edge of an axe.  The left eye bad been dug out and a cut extended the length of the nose.  The face was hacked to pieces and the blood had covered the man's shirt and soaked into his clothing.  Everything about the room was in order, and there were no signs of a scuffle of any kind.


Upstairs in a neat chamber in the northwest corner of the house, another terrible sight met the view.  On the floor between the bed and the dressing case lay Mrs. Borden, stretched full length, one arm extended and her face resting upon it.  Over the left temple the skull was fractured and no less than seven wounds were found about the head.  She had died evidently where she had been struck, for her life blood formed a ghastly clot on the carpet.

Dr. Bowen was the first physician to arrive, but life was extinct, and from the nature of the wounds it is probable that the suffering of both victims was very short.  The police were promptly on hand and strangers were kept at a distance.  Miss Borden was so overcome by the awful circumstances that she could not be seen, and kind friends led her away and cared for her.

A squad of police who had arrived conducted a careful hunt over the premises for trace of the assailant.  No weapon was found and there was nothing about the house to indicate who the murderer might have been.  A clue was obtained, however, a Portuguese whose name nobody around the house seem to know, has been employed on one of the Swansey farms owned by Mr. Borden.  About 9 o'clock this man went to the house and asked to see Mr. Borden.  He had a talk with his employer and asked for the wages due him.  Mr. Borden told the man he had no money with him, to call later.  If anything more passed between the men it cannot be learned.  At length the Portuguese departed and Mr. Borden soon afterward started down town.  His first call was to Peter Leduc's barber shop, where he was shaved about 9:30 o'clock.  He then dropped into the Union bank to transact some business and talked with Mr. Hart, treasurer of the savings bank, of which Mr. Borden was president.  As nearly as can be learned after that he went straight home.  H took of his coat and composed himself comfortably on the lounge to sleep.  It is presumed, from the easy attitude in which his body lay, that he was asleep when the deadly blow was struck.  It is thought that Mrs. Borden was in the room at the time, but was so overcome by the assault that she had no strength to make an outcry.  In her bewilderment, she rushed upstairs and went to in to her room.  She must have been followed up the stairs by the murderer, and as she was retreating into the furthest corner of the room, she was felled by the deadly axe.


The heavy fall and a subdued groaning attracted Miss Borden into the house.  There the terrible sight which has been described met her gaze.  She rushed to the staircase and called the servant, who was washing a window in her room on the third floor.  So noiselessly had the deed been done hat neither of them was aware of the bloody work going on so near them.

To a police officer, Miss Borden said she was at work in the barn about 10 o'clock.  On her return she found her father in the sitting room with a horrible gash in the side of his head.  He appeared at the time as though he had been hit while in a sitting posture.  Giving the alarm, she rushed up stairs to find her mother, only to be more horrified to find that person lying between the dressing case and the bed sweltering in a pool of blood.  It appeared as though Mrs. Borden had seen the man enter, and the man, knowing his dastardly crime would be discovered, had followed her upstairs and finished his fiendish work.  It was a well known fact that Mrs. Borden always left the room when her husband was talking business with anyone.  A person knowing this fact could easily spring upon his victim without giving her a chance to make an outcry.  Miss Borden had seen no person enter or leave the place.  The man who had charge of her father's farm was held in the highest respect by Mr. Borden.  His name was Alfred Johnson, and he trusted his employer so much that he left his bank book at Mr. Borden's house for safe keeping.  The young lady had not the slightest suspicion of his being connected with the crime.  As far as the Portuguese suspected of the crime was concerned, she knew nothing of him, as he might have been a man who was employed by the day in the busy season.  What his motive could have been it is hard to tell, as Mr. Borden had always been kind to his help.

Another statement made by the police, and which, though apparently light, would bear investigation, is the following: Some two weeks ago a man applied to Mr. Borden to the lease of a store on South Main street that was vacant.  After a short time as Miss Borden was passing the room loud words were heard her father making the remark: "I will not let it for that purpose."  Quietness was restored in a short while, and when the man departed her father said: "When you come to town next time I will let you know."  This was two weeks ago; but in the mean time the store has been let to another party, but why a person would commit such a brutal affair because of being refused the rental of a store is hard to see.  Miss Borden thinks that the party wanted the store for the sale of liquor, and her father refused.  It was dark at the time of his calling and she did not recognize his features.


At 12 :45 o'clock Marshal Hilliard and Officers Doherty and Connors procured a carriage and drove over to the farm, hoping that the suspected man would return there in order to prove an alibi.  The officers will arrive at the place some time before the man, as the distance is some ten miles, though it is hardly probable that he will return there.  What makes it rather improbable that the man suspected is a Portuguese laborer is the statement of Charles Gifford of Swansey.  Mr. Gifford says that the only Portuguese employed on the upper farm is Mr. Johnson, and he is confined to his bed by illness.  Another man might be employed by Mr. Borden on the lower farm for a few days, but he does not believe it.  An attempt was made to reach Swansey by telephone, but no answer was received.


Among the significant incidents revealed in the search through the premises was brought to light by John Donnelly, who with others searched through the barn to see if any trace of the fugitive could be found there.  In the hay was seen the perfect outline of a man as it one had slept there overnight.  Besides this, it was evident that the sleeper was either restless or had been there before, because an imprint was found in another part of the hay that corresponded with the outlines at the first impression.  Somebody may have been in the habit of going there for a nap, but the imprint was that of a person of about five feet six inches tall, and was shorter than Mr. Borden.  This has given rise to the suspicion that the murderer may have slept about the place and waited for an opportunity to accomplish his deed.


Another sensational story is being told in connection with the murder.  It appears that the members of the family have been ill for some days and the symptoms were very similar to those of poison.  In the light of subsequent events this sickness has been recalled.  It has been the custom of the family to receive its supply of milk from the Swansey farm every morning, and the can was left out of doors until the servant opened the house in the morning.  Ample opportunity was afforded, therefore, for anybody who had a foul design to tamper with the milk, and this circumstance will be carefully investigated by the police.

Medical Examiner Dolan, who promptly responded to the call for his presence, made a careful examination of the victims and reached the conclusion that the wounds were inflicted by a heavy, sharp weapon like an axe or hatchet.  He found the skull fractured in both instances and concluded that death was instantaneous.

As to the blow which killed Mrs. Borden he thought that it had been delivered by a tall man, who struck the woman from behind.


It is reported that Mrs. Borden received a letter this morning announcing the illness of a very dear friend and was preparing to go to see her.  This letter has turned out to be a bogus one, evidently intended to draw her away from home.  In this case it would look as if the assault had been carefully planned.  A suspicious character was seen on Second street this morning who seemed to be on the lookout for somebody, and the police have a description of the man.

Marshal Hilliard, Officers Dowty and Connors went to Swansey this afternoon, but found the men at work on the upper farm who had been employed there of late.  The lower farm will be visited at once.  William Eddy has charge of this one.

At 2:15 o'clock a sturdy Portuguese named Antonio Auriel was arrested in a saloon on Columbia street and brought into the police station.  The man protested his innocence and sent after Joseph Chaves, clerk for Talbot & Coo, who recognized the man, and he was immediately released.

Andrew J. Borden was born in this city 69 years ago.  By perseverance and industry he accumulated a fortune.  A short time since he boasted that he had yet to spend his first foolish dollar.  Mr. Borden was married twice.  His second wife was the daughter of Oliver Gray and was born on Rodman street.  He had two children by his first wife, Emma and Elizabeth.  The former is out of town on a visit and has not yet learned of the tragedy.

Mr. Borden was at the time of his death president of the Union savings bank and director in the Durfee bank, Globe yarn, Merchants and Troy mill.  He was interested in several big real estate deals, and was a very wealthy man.