True Grue: The Killing of Abby and Andrew Borden


Welcome to “True Grue,” a weekly article that dives into real life, harrowing horrors. For the interest of good taste, this graphic feature aims not to be exploitative, but rather informative, and rest assured, there are many different territories that will be strictly off-limits. But for those with a hungry mind and a strong stomach, read on at your own discretion…

Despite having won her day in federal court, the loss in that of public opinion was devastating to Lizzie Borden, who soon went into seclusion under the pseudonym “Lisbeth.” If Borden is as responsible for the crimes as she was perceived to have been however, then that’s a worthy price to pay for getting away with the most gruesome murders of her time.

Lizzie never had an upbringing too far beyond the ordinary, growing up religious with a compulsive father, considerate sister and an antagonistic stepmother. By all accounts, Lizzie was also a known humanitarian, having spent most of her time growing up attending church events and community building services. Lizzie was even known for supporting women’s rights, immigrant rights and even animals rights, yet found her relationship to her family taxing on her psychological state.

Shortly before the murders, tensions in the Borden home were at an all-time high. Lizzie and her sister, Emma, were constantly at odds with their stepmother, Abby, whom they referred to only as “Mrs. Borden.” Furthermore, the normally frugal Andrew had begun lavishly spending on property and gifts to Abby or her family, much to the frustration of Lizzie and Emma. Lizzie became extremely detached from her father when he killed a group of pigeons with a hatchet, even though Lizzie had personally built a roost for the birds in the family barn.

On the night of August 4th, an unknown assailant attacked both Andrew and Abby Borden. Andrew was attacked while sleeping, dying after being hit in the head 11 times with a hand-axe. In fact, the coroner only suspected Andrew had been sleeping when attacked, as his eye was split in half from behind his head. Her stepmother, Abby, was even worse-off, having been stabbed with the axe 18-19 times on her back, skull and face. Police often theorized Lizzie as the killer, as she had often backtracked on her statements, given unreasonable explanations for her alibi and fit the match for Abby’s murderer, who was claimed to have been lightweight enough to sit on Abby’s back while delivering the multiple fatal blows.

The crime scene was gruesome, and the trial was sensational, sweeping up the public’s interest even after Lizzie’s acquittal. The event inspired headlines, multiple fictional adaptations and even a folk rhyme entitled, “Lizzie Borden Took An Axe.” You can see the NSFW photos of Abby and Andrew post-murder below at your own risk…

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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