Lizzy Borden had been fascinated with axes ever since she was a small child. They were so solid, so useful, so… sharp along the edges. This obsession made her a bit of a social outcast among the schoolchildren, who couldn’t help but notice that she carried a hatchet with her at all times and spoke to them with a disturbing gleam in her eyes. It thus came as little surprise when her stepmother and father were found brutally murdered in their own home, sprawled out on the floor and horribly mutilated by some sort of common, bladed weapon.
Young Lizzy immediately became a suspect, and was taken in for questioning by the local police. She admitted to being in the house at the time, but stated that she hadn’t heard anything other than the usual bloodcurdling screams. Her bad relationship with her parents quickly came out (they rarely ate dinner in the same room, and had divided up portions of the house, ala “I Love Lucy”), as did the fact that her family suffered from a mysterious bout of poisoning shortly before the deadly attacks. Lizzy was further shown to have burned one of her dresses in the kitchen stove a few days after the murders for no particular reason.
She was put on trial for murder, where it soon became a nationwide sensation (she was, in many ways, the O.J. Simpson of her time). Despite the numerous holes in her story, though, she would be found innocent of the crime. Most of the evidence against her was circumstantial, and the judge wouldn’t allow Lizzy’s original testimony to be used. There is also some indication that the all-male jury couldn’t accept the notion of a pretty young girl committing such a horrible act. Women embroidered, they didn’t chop up people or take the law into their own hands!
The bloody murder would result in the following nursery rhyme:
Lizzy Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks,
And when she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
This is of course, a sad reflection of society, because her mother only received 19 whacks (her father got 11). It would seem that even in the 19th century, truth and accuracy were merely quaint customs to be given lip service and discarded when no longer convenient.