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The search for a motive

The police and other official investigators discussed today what possible motives prompted the murderers, irrespective of who they might be. The motive of gain was considered, as was the suggestion that a person who hated one of the victims and was not friendly to the other, did the deed.

The insanity theory was considered, but the police finally decided that the easiest way to determine the motive was first to catch the murderer. Color was given to the poisoning theory today by the strong rumor that Dr Dolan had received a report from the experts in Boston, who have analyzed the stomachs of Mr and Mrs Borden, saying that traces of poison was found. Dr Dolan refused to deny this. He said that he could not speak of it. He denied, however, the story that he went to the receiving vault in the cemetery to match some hair alleged to have been found on one of the axes picked up in the Borden cellar. There was no hair on any of the instruments found in the cellar.

Another mark against Lizzie Borden

George B Fish, of Hartford, who was visiting here some time ago and who is quoted as saying that there was a strong feeling between Mr and Mrs Borden and Lizzie Borden, is the husband of the murdered woman’s sister, and is conversant with the true state of the family relations.

“With the explosion of the story that Mrs Chace and a young French boy saw a strange man in the backyard on the morning of the murder there comes another black mark against Lizzie Borden, according to the police. After a patient search today, a Dispatch reporter found out who the man was that Mrs Chace saw. He was a stonemason, who was working in a yard adjoining the rear of the Borden yard.

He jumped over the fence to get some pears. This was about the time of the murder, and just the time Lizzie Borden should, according to her story, have passed from the house to the stable. But even if Lizzie Borden did not leave the house the stonemason in the rear of the house, Mrs Buffington on the north side, Mrs Chace on the south, and the French boy in the street, surrounded the Borden house.

Nobody could enter or leave unseen

No one could have entered the house by the rear 20 feet from her, and the boy, who was watching the mason from the street as he picked pears, would have seen anyone pass him either in leaving or entering the house. On the north side, where the side entrance is the boy, the mason and Mrs Buffinton would all have seen the murderer as he entered the house. The police argue that, with all these people watching, Lizzie Borden could not easily have left the house without being seen, and, above all, no other person could have entered or left the house unobserved.

G M Hanscom, assistant superintendent of the New England agency of the Pinkertons, spent the afternoon at the Borden house with Lizzie and Emma Borden. His coming here was first regarded as mysterious, but gradually a story leaked out that the Bordens had brought him there to see that the girls were not arrested. This rumor further insinuated that Mr Hanscom’s dealings with the police had been singularly successful, and that none of the Borden family would be molested.

A reporter took this story to police headquarters and asked if it was true. The police at once denied it emphatically.

Barring out a Pinkerton Chief

Late last night it was said that Chief of Police Hilliard had issued an order which substantially prohibited Mr Hanscom from entering the Borden house and from seeing Lizzie Borden. When the story first came out, a futile attempt was made to deny it, but this afternoon, the police admitted that it was true. The order was revoked this morning, and Mr Hanscom was allowed to enter the house.

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Chief Hilliard, when seen this afternoon, said: “I did not give the order, though I know the matter was being considered by the city authorities last night. In any event I see no reason why such orders are not proper at this time. I do not believe there is any reason why Mr Hanscom, who is an expert detective, and in the family’s employ, should have access to the Borden House any more than the reporters. The reporters are working as hard to get at the bottom of this case as he is, and no class of unofficial investigators should be discriminated against.

“What reason had the Borden girls to engage detectives? Are they afraid that we will overstep the bounds of law in our investigation of crime? If so, why did they not come to us and show us where our act might seem or may be inconsistent? I believe that the course pursued has been taken to protect the living.

“There has been much labor and great effort within the past 24 hours to create sympathy in that direction. In the performance of my duty, I do not forget that there is something due to the dead. Our purpose is to bring the murderer of Mr and Mrs Borden to justice, and our efforts will be rewarded.”

Don’t want outside interference

The police say they believe that Mr Hanscom’s efforts will retard their work. While it is doubtful if the police fear this, yet it is a significant fact that as fast as the police suggest suspicious circumstances which might connect Lizzie Borden, just as fast are these circumstances answered by Mr Hanscom.

Since Mr Hanscom has seen and talked with Lizzie Borden, her story has changed materially in several important points. For instance. In her story, as she first told it, she said that she was in the barn not more than 20 minutes. Mr Hanscom now fixes it at half an hour. But why did Lizzie Borden remain there 30 minutes? Mr Hanscom answers this by saying that she was hunting for something.

But Mr Hanscom adds that she was so weak and rambling in her talk that he could not ask her about such points as why she did not notice her dead stepmother as she passed the door of the room in which Mrs Borden lay dead. If Lizzie Borden is so weak and so rambling in her mind that she cannot answer perplexing questions like that, how is it, ask the police, that she can explain so minutely her trip to the barn, and be so clear about certain other simple points?


Top photo: Lizzie Borden; Photo 2 (set):L Andrew Borden, Abby Borden and Lizzie Borden; Photo 3: The alleged murder weapon

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About this story

Source publication: Pittsburg Dispatch (Pittsburg, Penn.)

Source publication date: August 09, 1892

Filed under: 1890s, Crime, Culture & lifestyle, Events, Featured, Notable people

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