The Fall River Tragedy

Edwin H. PORTER (c. 1864 - 1904)

The story of how Lizzie Borden supposedly murdered her parents has passed into American folklore, partly thanks to the albeit inaccurate playground rhyme, "Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother 40 whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41." Here we have the 'true' story, as reported by the local police reporter who attended the trial and lived only streets away from the Borden home with his young wife. After the trial, Porter 'disappeared' and it was widely speculated he had either been murdered or bribed to disappear in order to suppress the book. His reappearance some time later put paid to the first theory. After his death at age 39 from tuberculosis, a new theory emerged, that he had been away for treatment while keeping his illness secret. Meanwhile, the trial itself was noteworthy for several reasons: it was one of the first to be followed by nationwide press, providing a template for today's tabloid and cable coverage of major trials; it also had some distinguished personnel: one of the prosecutors, Frank Moody, later became the attorney general of the United States and was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Theodore Roosevelt; and Borden’s defense attorney, George Robinson, was the former governor of Massachusetts. The appearance of Professor Wood of Harvard University was an early use of an expert witness at trial.

Genre(s): True Crime

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 00 Preface Lynne T
00:02:53
Play 01 Discovery of the Murders Lynne T
00:28:44
Play 02 Police Searching the Premises Lynne T
00:14:57
Play 03 The Borden Family Lynne T
00:07:08
Play 04 Hiram C. Harrington’s Story Lynne T
00:07:36
Play 05 The Search of the House Lynne T
00:07:53
Play 06 The Funeral Lynne T
00:05:28
Play 07 A Reward Offered Lynne T
00:15:21
Play 08 A Sermon on the Murders Lynne T
00:15:17
Play 09 Theories Advanced Lynne T
00:11:07
Play 10 Chapter X Lynne T
00:25:33
Play 11 Miss Lizzie Borden Arrested Lynne T
00:19:53
Play 12 Lizzie Borden Pleads 'Not Guilty' Lynne T
00:25:17
Play 13 The Preliminary Hearing Adjourned Lynne T
00:36:15
Play 14 Dr. Dolan Cross-Examined Lynne T
00:07:26
Play 15 Second Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:21:44
Play 16 Third and Fourth Days of the Trial Lynne T
00:21:39
Play 17 Fifth Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:27:02
Play 18 Sixth Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:21:50
Play 19 District Attorney Knowlton’s Argument. Lynne T
00:20:23
Play 20 Lizzie A. Borden Indicted Lynne T
00:06:52
Play 21 The Trickey-McHenry Affair Lynne T
00:35:37
Play 22 Beginning of the Superior Court Trial Lynne T
01:01:08
Play 23 Third Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:06:30
Play 24 Fourth Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:16:59
Play 25 Fifth Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:07:58
Play 26 Seventh Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:04:14
Play 27 Eighth and Ninth Days of the Trial Lynne T
00:02:22
Play 28 Tenth Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:09:52
Play 29 Eleventh Day of the Trial Lynne T
00:32:32
Play 30 Twelfth Day of the Trial Part 1 Lynne T
00:52:54
Play 31 Twelfth Day of the Trial Part 2 Lynne T
00:57:26
Play 32 Twelfth Day of the Trial Part 3 Lynne T
00:52:05
Play 33 District Attorney Knowlton’s Plea Part 1 Lynne T
00:53:46
Play 34 District Attorney Knowlton’s Plea Part 2 Lynne T
00:43:48
Play 35 Judge Dewey’s Charge to the Jury Lynne T
00:23:59