In Episode 167, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger go trick-or-treating at the haunted Lizzie Borden House and Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. In this Halloween special, we explore the infamous case from August 4, 1892, and the haunt the double-murder left behind. We walk room-by-room with tour guide Sue as we take in the house, examine crime scene photos, and sit where Andrew Borden’s skull was crushed in while he napped. Happy Halloween!
Read the episode transcript.
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Produced and hosted by: Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger
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The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Massachusetts. Photo by Frank Grace.
The Lizzie Borden House parlor where Andrew Borden was murdered. Photo by Frank Grace.
The Lizzie Borden House guest room where Abby Borden was murdered. Photo by Frank Grace.
The skulls. Photo by Frank Grace.
Ray and Jeff get ready to head inside the Lizzie Borden House.
*A note on the text: Please forgive punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. Like us, the transcripts ain’t perfect.
[JUDGE GAVEL BANGING ON THE BENCH]
[MURMERING CROWD NOISE IN COURTROOM]
JUDGE: The jurors for the said Commonwealth on their oath present that Lizzie Andrew Borden of Fall River in the County of Bristol, on the fourth day of August in the year eighteen hundred and ninety-two in and upon one Abby Durfee Borden, feloniously, willfully, and of her malice aforethought an assault did make, and with a certain instrument, to wit, a sharp cutting instrument, the name and more particular description of which is to the Jurors unknown.
JEFF: Ray, this is the trial of the century!
RAY I can’t believe we got a seat in the courtroom!
JUDGE: And the Jurors for the said Commonwealth, on their oath, do further present, that Lizzie Andrew Borden of Fall River in the County of Bristol, on the fourth day of August, in the year eighteen hundred and ninety two, in upon one Andrew Jackson Borden, feloniously, willfully and of her malice aforethought, an assault did make, and with a certain weapon, to wit, a sharp cutting instrument, the name and a more particular description of which is to the Jurors unknown, him, the said Andrew Jackson Borden, feloniously, willfully, and of her malice aforethought, did strike, cut, beat and bruise, in and upon the head of him, the said Andrew Jackson Borden, by the said striking, cutting, beating and bruising, in and upon the head of him, the said Andrew Jackson Borden, divers, to wit, ten mortal wounds, of which said mortal wounds, the said Andrew Jackson Boren then and there instantly died.
RAY: I think it’s pretty obvious Lizzie did it.
JEFF: Yeah, this doesn’t look good for her. And this event in Fall River, Massachusetts, this trial, and this family are going to haunt us.
JEFF: Hi, I’m Jeff Belanger and welcome to Episode 167 – the Halloween Special – of the New England Legends podcast!
RAY: Thank you for joining us on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. New England Legends is more than just a weekly podcast that’s been bringing you strange stories from the northeastern United States for the last 167 weeks in a row, it’s a television series on PBS and Amazon Prime, it’s a free smart phone app with an interactive map to guide you to hundreds of these legendary locations, it’s a super-secret Facebook group, and it’s a Web site.
JEFF: We’re obsessed with haunts, monsters, and other odd history from New England, and I can say the same for our patreon patrons. This group of insiders kick in just $3 bucks per month to get early access to new episodes, plus bonus episodes and content that no one else gets to hear. If you can help, please head over to patreon.com/newenglandlegends.
[COURTROOM MURMERING AGAIN]
[GAVEL ON BENCH]
RAY: Jeff, Lizzie Borden’s trial has been crazy!
JEFF: I agree. At times Lizzie’s testimony was all over the map. It’s pretty clear that all of the circumstantial evidence points to her guilt. But… no murder weapon.
RAY: Look at Lizzie sitting over there. What must be going through her head?
JEFF: Yeah, what about what went through the heads of Andrew and Abby Borden?
RAY: Good point. Shhhh… here comes the judge. The jury was only out for maybe an hour and a half… but I think we’re about to hear the decision.
JUDGE: What is your verdict?
JUROR: Not guilty.
JEFF: I can’t believe it! Look at Lizzie over there.
RAY: She’s sobbing in her hands. I can see her sister Emma is hugging her. People are moving in to congratulate her. What a strange turn of events! And that will bring us back to today.
JEFF: We all know the verdict. So many of us know the case. The reality is two people were murdered at 92 Second Street in Fall River, and no one was punished for the crime.
RAY: Today, the Lizzie Borden house is considered one of the most haunted buildings in New England.
JEFF: I can think of no better place to spend Halloween. You ready for this?
RAY: I’m ready.
JEFF: Then let’s go check out this infamous house.
JEFF: Ray, this is it.
RAY: This is it, we are here.
JEFF: This is — yeah.
RAY: This is amazing. So tell everybody where we are.
JEFF: We are at the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts.
RAY: Never been here.
JEFF: You’ve never — I’ve —
RAY: I’ve grown up — I grew up in Massachusetts, never been to Fall River.
RAY: We passed Battleship Cove.
JEFF: Yeah, that’s so weird to me because I’ve been here like 100 times.
JEFF: But I’m so excited to take you —
JEFF: — for your first time. Because this — like, I’m giddy because I remember what it felt like for me, so.
RAY: I know the story.
RAY: And I actually watched the Christina Ricci movie recently just to —
RAY: — you know, to prep for it.
RAY: So I am — I am in full knowledge of what we’re about to experience here, I think.
JEFF: Well, it’s Halloween. Let’s trick or treat at the Lizzie Borden House.
RAY: All right.
JEFF: Are you ready? All right.
JEFF: Trick or treat?
RAY: Trick or treat.
SUE: Jeff, hey.
SUE: Come on in.
JEFF: Thank you. All right, can you introduce yourself for us, please?
SUE: Hi, Sue Vickery.
JEFF: Sue Vickery. And you have been a tour guide here forever?
SUE: Eight to ten years.
JEFF: Eight to ten years — that’s also like a prison sentence.
RAY: Let me shut this door.
JEFF: All right. So we are in the side hallway, entering toward the kitchen, so.
RAY: Well, I guess my first question is what has been done, as far as renovations? How — how authentic is this house?
SUE: Well, right where we’re standing, actually, there used to be a door over here that went into a washroom.
SUE: But the wall has been covered over since.
RAY: Okay. But everything else pretty true to original form?
RAY: Okay, awesome.
JEFF: Meticulously so.
RAY: Except for the cameras on the wall. I doubt they were here in 1860.
JEFF: So the kitchen. So this is — and this is where they still cook for folks. This is an active bed and breakfast, right?
RAY: There’s a stove here.
SUE: We are, yeah.
JEFF: And so we’re going to kind of walk around — I just want to get your reactions.
RAY: Yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that — is that you can stay here. This is a bed — a legit bed and breakfast.
JEFF: Yeah, you can. And even during the time of Covid, they’re under 50% rule, right?
SUE: 50% capacity right now, yeah.
JEFF: Right. But you can still make reservations.
JEFF: But I —
RAY: I would rather stay here with a 50% capacity.
JEFF: Oh, yeah.
RAY: You have the place basically to yourself — almost — sort of.
SUE: Well, like a ten person limit.
RAY: Ten people? That’s great.
JEFF: Are you ready for this, Ray?
RAY: I am ready. As I look around, there’s pictures of Lizzie on the bathroom door with a hatchet — I like that, that’s funny.
JEFF: There’s a lot of kitsch. So this room is sort of significant.
RAY: Ooh, okay.
JEFF: First I want to draw your attention — check out this picture. Can you describe it for us?
RAY: Yeah, that is dear old dead dad.
JEFF: Yes, Andrew Borden.
RAY: And lying on the couch, hatchet to the face.
JEFF: This is the crime scene photo, yeah.
RAY: And there is the — the handless —
JEFF: The alleged hatchet.
RAY: Hatchet, right. It didn’t have the handle because legend has it she threw that away. It may have been bloodied, so she broke the handle off.
SUE: Some people say it may have broken off during the attack.
SUE: Other people say oh, it’s possible it was intentionally broken.
RAY: But did they ever find the handle?
RAY: They didn’t find the handle.
RAY: Burnt with the shirt.
SUE: No one knows.
JEFF: All right. So look at this photo, Ray.
JEFF: Do you see — I mean, that’s the crime — that’s the actual crime scene photo. Now, turn around.
RAY: Yeah, there’s the two doors.
JEFF: No, but I mean look at the wallpaper.
RAY: No, I know, it’s —
JEFF: Look at this —
RAY: — it’s exactly the same. The positioning of the photograph on the wall —
SUE: It’s actually the same —
RAY: — is measured out. Is it the same one? Okay.
SUE: Same photograph on the wall that you see in that picture.
RAY: Has it always been there? Or was it re —
SUE: No, that would have been put up during renovations.
RAY: Okay, okay.
JEFF: Do you dare sit?
RAY: I’ll sit.
JEFF: Go ahead. Now, not the original couch.
RAY: Okay, but still.
JEFF: But one that looks just like it.
RAY: It’s still the area.
JEFF: It’s — that’s exactly where.
RAY: This is exactly where it happened. So I am now sitting.
JEFF: You are sitting exactly where Andrew Borden met his end — just like that.
RAY: Okay. Now, I feel like something should be happening to me right now. Do we want to start talking about ghost stories?
JEFF: I —
RAY: Or would you like to proceed with the tour first?
JEFF: What do you — let’s see the crime scenes.
RAY: Okay. Well, here’s one of them — I’m sitting on a crime scene.
JEFF: This is one, yeah. This is 50% of the crime scene in the house so far.
RAY: Hatchet to the face how many times?
SUE: Ten to eleven.
RAY: Ten to eleven times in the face.
JEFF: You know what? Before we go upstairs, let’s go into here because there’s some things to see in the cabinet.
JEFF: This is the dining room, right next to the — what do we call this room? It’s not the parlor.
RAY: The sitting room?
SUE: The sitting room.
JEFF: Sitting room, sitting room.
RAY: Parlor (laughs).
JEFF: Go over here and look in the cabinet.
RAY: Oh my God, okay.
JEFF: That’s — yeah. Well, you’ve got to describe, you can’t just say oh my God.
RAY: Well, I know, I’m sorry. That’s my initial reaction, now I’ll describe.
RAY: We have the two skulls of Andrew and Abby.
JEFF: Right, replicas of the skulls. And those are the photos of the actual skulls.
RAY: And these were used in the courthouse.
JEFF: That’s the damage that was done —
RAY: That was a lot of damage. I mean, the skull on Andrew on the left side is pretty much caved in.
JEFF: Yeah, significant.
RAY: And the right side of Abby’s head — the back — the side back is crushed in as well.
RAY: That’s amazing.
SUE: It was actually the actual skulls that were used in the courtroom, not replicas.
RAY: Right, right — it was. Which caused Lizzie to pass out.
JEFF: And they would have been laid out in here, right? Oh, yeah, look — there’s —
RAY: Oh, on the tables, that’s right — oh.
SUE: No, no — there’s coroner boards on that wall.
RAY: Oh, these are the coroner boards?
RAY: Oh my gosh.
JEFF: So they would have been laid out in here first, right?
SUE: They were waked in the dining room on the table, but they were autopsied — Abby’s autopsy was actually in the dining room on a coroner board.
SUE: Andrew’s — as you can see from his autopsy photo here, you can see the couch in the background, so you can see he was autopsied right in front of the couch he was killed on.
JEFF: Oh my God, there’s like nothing —
SUE: You can see the board underneath him.
JEFF: That’s his face or what’s left of it — his beard.
JEFF: Absolutely devasted by —
RAY: This is gruesome. I mean, this is — these are actual photos, but this is something you’d see in a horror movie.
JEFF: Yeah, this is the autopsy photo and it’s absolutely —
RAY: Are these the actual boards?
SUE: They are used coroner boards; they are local. Whether or not they were used on the Bordens, we have no way of knowing.
JEFF: All right. Let’s go to the second — well, actually first crime scene, right? Like the first murder —
SUE: The first would have been Abby, yeah, upstairs.
JEFF: Right. So well we had to come in downstairs first, so.
JEFF: Let’s go to Abby. We’re going to head upstairs.
RAY: Okay. You know the way?
JEFF: I do.
JEFF: I’ve been here a bunch.
RAY: Show me the way, Jeff. (Singing) Show me the way.
JEFF: We’re passing a picture of Mr. Andrew Borden on the wall.
RAY: Handsome gentleman.
JEFF: Totally handsome. A painting of Lizzie. There’s so much here. So as we head up the stairs —
RAY: Mind your wires, sir. I don’t want you to trip. Or mind my wire. All right. We just came up like a staircase that kind of bent.
RAY: So hold on — let’s go back just a little bit. So I was told that they came halfway up the stairs and about halfway they were eye level with the floor.
SUE: From about the seventh step, you can see right over that landing and — and they could see the body of Abby lying on the other side of the bed.
RAY: So right up — from underneath the bed, they could see the body.
SUE: You can see a clear shot under the bed.
JEFF: So we’re going to go in here, which is now the guest — was the guestroom, right?
JEFF: And right over here you can see the other crime scene photo.
RAY: And people sleep here, by the way — right here.
JEFF: Right here, yeah.
RAY: Right next to Abby. And actually, not just next to Abby, but next to a picture — an actual picture of Abby.
JEFF: That’s — yeah.
RAY: So you are sleeping in the room where she was hacked to death. How many times was that?
SUE: She was hit 19 times.
RAY: 19 — 19 times.
JEFF: My God. So —
JEFF: And you can even see the furniture is the same, the carpet’s, you know, pretty close.
SUE: There’s a second photo right behind Jeff on that.
JEFF: Right. Look at the —
RAY: Oh, my — I mean, her —
JEFF: I mean, you can see the blood coming out of her head and just —
RAY: What head?
JEFF: Yeah. Brutally, brutally murdered right exactly where we’re standing, Ray. Where your foot is right this very second, that’s —
RAY: I mean, that’s her —
JEFF: That’s exactly where it happened.
RAY: This is where — yeah. That’s amazing.
JEFF: Now, the bedspread is a nice, white bedspread on this beautiful bed in here.
RAY: It is now?
JEFF: They — you have one though, right, that’s splattered red?
SUE: We do have one that we put out every August 4th. The Historical Society, however, still has the original.
SUE: And you can still see the blood splatter on it.
JEFF: Oh my gosh.
RAY: Yeah, there are artifacts around town, is that correct?
SUE: Historical Society has most of the artifacts.
RAY: All the — okay.
SUE: Yeah, they can better keep it.
JEFF: And so people — I mean, it’s been a bed and breakfast for how many years now?
SUE: About 20, 21.
JEFF: And people come here to stay in the room where someone was murdered.
SUE: Oh, this is our most-requested room at night. Matter of fact, I was a tour guide the other night and she brought a sleeping bag so she could lay right on the floor where Abby died.
RAY: Oh, my — that’s a little much.
JEFF: Oh, come on.
RAY: I don’t know if I would do that.
SUE: Oh, I wouldn’t either, but yeah, that’s what she did, yeah.
RAY: So what do people tell you about this room? I know everybody feels like they felt something wherever — whenever they go to a place like this. But do people actually walk downstairs in the morning shaking, white as a ghost, saying I just had an experience?
SUE: We have had guests have experience in this room.
SUE: And I, myself, have had many experiences in this room.
JEFF: What happened?
SUE: Usually when I’m giving tours — especially when I first started working here — I’d be being poked in the back while I was talking. I’ve seen white mist form in this room. I’ve got — you know I like to ghost hunt the house, Jeff, so I have a little bit of equipment and Abby speaks to me all the time in this room over the spirit box. Or I’ll put my little light-up toys and say can you walk over and light it up and she does.
RAY: Now, for the most part, these people were nice — they were good people?
SUE: Oh, yeah.
RAY: Or they weren’t evil people; they weren’t bad people.
SUE: Oh, Abby’s still very nice.
RAY: So I would imagine —
SUE: Andrew’s a little grumpy, but Abby’s pretty nice.
RAY: — in the afterlife, they would be nice. These aren’t ghosts that are going to hurt you?
SUE: Abby, anyway. Andrew, ummm . . .
RAY: Andrew, yeah, maybe? Okay.
JEFF: Well, they were victims. I mean —
JEFF: You know, come on, this was — yeah, no, and it’s a powerful place. So talking with LeAnne and speaking with you in the past, I know people come here because they’re true crime fans and people come here because they’re paranormal fans. Some people come here because they’re both, right? And so this place tucked in Fall River — I mean, we’re across the street from the courthouse and we’ve — yet, this time capsule from 1892 sits here.
JEFF: And has been meticulously made to look like 1892.
SUE: Oh, yeah.
JEFF: You know? I mean — Ray, I mean look around. All of this — like if you look at these crime scene photos —
JEFF: — has been pieced together.
RAY: Right. I mean, the actual crime scene photos are here in this room. So this isn’t like — I mean, you’ve got to be a little demented to want to stay here.
RAY: Come on.
SUE: Oh, I don’t know that.
RAY: A little — just a little.
SUE: I mean, we do get a lot of history buffs that don’t even believe in the paranormal.
SUE: Which is fine, I mean.
RAY: Well, those would be the true crime people, I would imagine.
SUE: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
RAY: So you’ve got two sets of people that would want to stay here.
SUE: Some of them are converted by morning, others not.
RAY: (Laughs) Okay.
JEFF: You have to remember too though that like this is an unsolved crime to this day, right?
RAY: Right, no one ever caught the individual
JEFF: And so there’s people that think like well, I — I can solve it, right? I’m going to look at the depositions, I’m going to read all the court — which are all available online.
JEFF: And I’m going to come there — I’m going to look at —
RAY: This would be part of the process, is staying here, yeah.
JEFF: I’m going to be the detective and I’m going to solve this.
SUE: Oh, Jeff, I’ve taken forensic classes through this house, criminal justice; I’ve taken the FBI through the house.
SUE: Yeah, everyone thinks once they, you know, walk through the rooms and know which doors were locked that they’re going to be able to solve it.
SUE: But with this story, the more you know, the more complicated things become.
JEFF: All right — who did it?
SUE: And that’s what I’m saying, Jeff — the more complicated it becomes.
SUE: You really can’t say.
JEFF: Where were you on the night of August 4th, 1892?
SUE: Not here.
JEFF: All right.
RAY: Is there a consensus with the staff here? Have you guys gotten together and said you know what, we’ve come to a conclusion and it was Lizzie who did it; it was anybody?
SUE: No. I’d have to say that, you know, a lot of staff, of course, yes, thinks she did do it.
SUE: But we have a number of people that work here that do not think she did it.
RAY: Hmm, okay.
JEFF: I’m willing to go on record as saying I believe in my heart of hearts she was at least involved — like, yeah, I —
RAY: And if she was involved, was her sister involved?
JEFF: Well, that’s a good question.
RAY: That’s a good question.
SUE: Well, I have trouble believing Emma was involved.
SUE: And I look — I explain it to the guests this way — if I thought — even if I conspired with my sister to commit murder, I know I, myself, couldn’t actually do it. And if I thought my sister could, could I then go move in with her?
RAY: Oh, that’s true, yeah. Would you want to spend time with her, yeah.
SUE: At another house? I’d be afraid to close my eyes at night, you know what I mean?
RAY: She did leave her at one point.
SUE: She did leave her, but after, what, 12 years of living with her over there.
RAY: Was it that long?
JEFF: You’ve got to remember too — this is a deeply personal murder.
JEFF: This is not like I just need you dead — I’m going to poison you or shoot you.
SUE: No, exactly. People come up to me all the time and say oh, she did it for the inheritance — no. Once, twice, you’re dead, you’ve inherited. Way too much passion to be about.
RAY: And it also wasn’t a robbery.
RAY: Somebody didn’t just breeze in.
JEFF: Nothing was stolen, right?
SUE: No, no.
RAY: Because then that’s a — a knock to the head with a bat.
SUE: And you’ve got to remember — some of these doors were locked.
SUE: So you did not have free walk through this house.
SUE: If anybody did walk through certain rooms, they would have had to have been let through those rooms.
RAY: Right. And there must have been a lot of creaking. I mean, just walking in this room now, we’re experiencing a lot of creaking on the floors. When we were walking in, I noticed that, so it’s not a quiet house.
SUE: There weren’t a lot of people in the house, though — there weren’t a lot of people in the house.
RAY: No, but enough. I mean, you would think you would — the maid would have known where —
SUE: She was outside.
RAY: Was she outside at the time?
SUE: She was outside.
RAY: Okay, all right.
JEFF: Where was Bridget at the time?
SUE: Bridget Sullivan, while Abby was being murdered, was outside — the yellow house next door, Jeff, is actually original — the Kelly family live there. She takes this long break, having a conversation over the fence with the Kelly’s family maid — witnessed by them — so she’s got a solid alibi. She was washing windows, so the windows would have been closed.
SUE: Not much sound would have been outside of the house.
RAY: And there was no time to scream either, the way the murders happened.
SUE: No, they think Abby more than likely knew her assailant and most likely was facing that assailant.
RAY: Right. So from what I understand, hit face first and then fell forward on her face because they were —
JEFF: You’ve got a — I mean, an axe to the face when — that’s one shot is going to knock you down.
RAY: Right, but knocked her forward. You know, she spun around.
SUE: Yeah, most likely it — she gets hit to the left side of the face first.
SUE: She’s facing this way, so more than likely it spun her. She either falls or is pushed to the floor.
SUE: That killer would have had to straddle her body in this tight area.
RAY: Right. Yeah, and it is a tight area.
JEFF: Yeah. And this is probably about exactly the space they would have had then, right?
SUE: Yeah. I actually saw my very only apparition in this room giving a tour.
RAY: Did you?
JEFF: Okay, what happened?
SUE: I’m giving a tour. I usually stand right about where he is when I talk.
RAY: Where the murder happened.
SUE: And I’m watching the guests come up the staircase and I look over onto the bed. The last one, this guy had a GoPro — he was the last coming in every room. So I see him come to the top of the stairs, then I look back over and I see like a woman with white on walk past him. So at first I thought it was somebody else on my tour. I says oh, you’re going to have to come in this room. And he turns over his shoulder and he’s like nobody there.
SUE: But then at the end of my tour, he says did you see a lady in white? Is that why you said that? I said oh my God, yeah. He says yeah, I saw her too.
JEFF: Wow, that’s really cool.
RAY: Do people get scared?
SUE: Do I ever get scared?
RAY: Do people get scared here, in general? Do they get scared if they see these things? Or is it more of a comforting sensation?
SUE: It depends. I’ve had people, you know, leave the house.
RAY: You have, yeah.
SUE: Yeah. I, myself, left the house a few occasions.
RAY: I mean, let’s face it —
JEFF: What made you — wait, hold on — what made you leave the house?
SUE: (Laughs) Just being scared. I’ve had a — I was growled in my ear twice down in the basement here, Jeff.
SUE: Yeah. They brought in that psychic, Chip Coffey?
JEFF: Yeah, yeah, we know Chip.
SUE: So I was talking to Chip and I was telling him about it. He says Sue, soon as you told me, a man appeared. He said it was Andrew. You wandered where he was down in the basement and he was trying to scare you out of there. So I said oh, well, good job.
RAY: It worked; he did it.
JEFF: Yeah, scary stuff. Yeah, we filmed Ghost Adventures here years ago.
JEFF: That was one of the first TV projects I worked on here.
JEFF: Actually, no, I take it back. I was here for — God, what was the — the show on the History Channel — MonsterQuest, Ghosts.
SUE: Oh, geez, yeah.
SUE: That’s right, yeah.
JEFF: That is way back, way back when. Oh my God, I was just a kid — just a crazy kid with a dream.
SUE: Yep, yep.
JEFF: All right. So let’s keep moving.
RAY: Okay, yeah.
JEFF: Because, you know, we don’t have much time. But before we go, this — in the corner here there’s a dress worn by Elizabeth Montgomery, of course, when she portrayed Lizzie Borden.
RAY: Oh, yeah.
JEFF: So that’s Elizabeth Montgomery’s actual —
RAY: I just watched the Christina Ricci version.
SUE: Yeah, this one’s the best one though.
RAY: This one’s good? Yeah.
SUE: Yeah. If you can catch it, you should.
JEFF: The Legend of Lizzie Borden.
SUE: She actually turned out to be related to Lizzie.
RAY: No kidding?
SUE: Sixth cousins. Had no idea when she took on the roll though. No wonder she played her so well.
RAY: And she played a witch.
JEFF: And she played Bewitched, right? Of course.
RAY: I mean, there’s something there.
JEFF: Of course. All right, let’s just — you’ve got to check this out. So it’s an interesting layout to the house. Notice there’s not like a hallway. So now we’re in Lizzie’s room — Lizzie’s bedroom.
SUE: This is Lizzie’s. At first it was Emma’s, until about a year and a half before the murders and the girls switched rooms.
JEFF: Got ya. And then this next door is Andrew’s, right?
SUE: The master bedroom.
JEFF: The master bedroom, yeah. So Andrew’s —
RAY: So you had to walk through —
SUE: But this door —
JEFF: You’ll see.
SUE: — would have been locked from Andrew’s side with a desk pushed up against it. Lizzie had this latch lock on her side and her bed was kitty-cornered right here.
SUE: So no one would have been able to walk through this door and discover Abby’s body.
RAY: What’s of note in this room, by the way? There’s a lot of artifacts in all the other rooms.
SUE: Oh, sure — go around to that bookcase there.
RAY: Real quick, Jeff, let’s just go take a look over there.
JEFF: Yeah, sure. This is the only thing that the Bordens actually owned, right? In the bookcase?
SUE: Some of the china downstairs in that front parlor belonged to the Bordens as well. But yeah, all these books on the first two shelves wrapped in plastic?
SUE: Were actually Lizzie’s books. That’s her handwriting — she wrote her initials inside this book behind the scary-looking Lizzie doll here.
JEFF: Notice this book title here?
RAY: I just — yeah, When Ghost Meets Ghost.
JEFF: When Ghost Meets Ghost.
SUE: With Edged Tools.
JEFF: Oh, God.
RAY: With Edged Tools — wow, yeah.
SUE: And this one off to the right, guys — this is about Lizzie Borden, written in her lifetime. And when that was published, she didn’t like that too much. She tried to buy up most of the copies of that book.
RAY: No kidding?
JEFF: That’s one way to make a living writing books is to —
RAY: The Acid (Laughs).
JEFF: Yeah, all right. So we’re going to head into the master bedroom. It feels like an old house, right?
RAY: It does, yeah.
JEFF: I mean, this is just very much like a — I noticed you just knocked on the door?
SUE: Oh, another thing Chip told me to do.
JEFF: Because we’re in here alone.
RAY: There were so many rooms.
SUE: He said announce yourself, Sue, and you might not get growled in your ear as often.
JEFF: So this is the master bedroom, Andrew’s room. People often leave coins for him.
RAY: I have no coins.
JEFF: And don’t take any.
RAY: (Laughs) If I want to get out.
SUE: No, bad things happen to people who take his change.
JEFF: And then —
RAY: A wedding dress.
RAY: Sandalwood fan shawl.
JEFF: All right. So let’s head upstairs now. We’re going to see a little bit more.
RAY: There are bedrooms everywhere, by the way.
RAY: In such a small — but it’s not that small.
SUE: Yeah. But that would not have been a bedroom back then.
RAY: This wouldn’t have been. So we’re looking at a bedroom right off of the bedroom.
SUE: No, that was Abby’s changing room and that was Andrew’s office. It was robbed about a year before the murders.
RAY: Okay. So that was kind of common, right? Just people walking into houses and robbing them?
SUE: Well, no. Andrew had a feeling that that was an inside job.
RAY: Oh, was it? Okay. Oh, yeah, yeah, because she was a little —
JEFF: So as you can see, there’s another set of staircase up here so you could —
RAY: Yeah. Where do these stairs go?
SUE: Back down to the kitchen.
JEFF: Right to where we came in.
RAY: You’re supposed to say they go down.
JEFF: They go down; they do go down. And up here — we’re going to head up to the third floor, some carpeted stairs.
RAY: And this is where Bridget, right?
JEFF: Bridget, the maid, was up here.
RAY: Bridget, yes. Bridget, the maid — is that what they called her?
JEFF: They called her Maggie, right?
JEFF: And they called her Maggie — this is like a crazy story. They called her Maggie because the maid before was named Maggie and they couldn’t —
RAY: (Laughs) It was just easier.
JEFF: — they couldn’t bother to learn a new name.
SUE: Just Lizzie and Emma called her Maggie.
JEFF: Which is just wonderful. So there’s Bridget — a picture of Bridget right on the wall.
JEFF: And this would have been her quarters, right?
SUE: Mm-hmm. Bridget in her old age. She actually lives until 1948.
RAY: Oh, wow. She held some secrets, I’m sure.
JEFF: You wonder.
SUE: I’m sure she did.
JEFF: Do you think she knew something?
SUE: Yeah, I think so. I think as soon as Lizzie called her down the stairs, I think she did know. And she may have even helped clean up the crime scene.
JEFF: So right — she was here when Andrew — so Andrew was killed, what, an hour or so after Abby?
RAY: Hour and a half.
SUE: About an hour, hour and a half, yeah. At that time, Bridget would have been up here actually. She just come up to lie down on her bed before the noon meal.
JEFF: Ray, you’ve been in this house now enough.
JEFF: You’re laying here, someone is getting hacked to death on the first floor.
JEFF: Twelve times, right?
SUE: Ten to eleven times.
JEFF: Yeah. You’re not going to hear that? You’re not going to at least come — like, excuse me, everything okay?
SUE: Actually, you know, Andrew was taking a nap. He might have just let out a little sound after the first blow. I don’t think she did hear anything.
JEFF: We’re going to have to do an experiment.
RAY: The hits — I would think you’d hear the thuds — the thud of the body falling.
SUE: No, he was on the couch.
RAY: But of Abby.
JEFF: Well, no she was outside at the time.
SUE: Abby, she was outside.
RAY: Oh, she was outside — that’s right, I’m sorry. Okay, I could see that being quiet.
JEFF: Well, when you crush a skull with a hatchet, Ray, it sounds kind of like — oh, I’ve said too much.
SUE: But you’ve got to remember — there’s so many closed doors between here and that sitting room.
RAY: And it was two stories down.
SUE: And two stories down.
JEFF: All right, all right.
SUE: These walls are solid.
JEFF: All right, that’s true — this is a solid, old house. All right. We’re going to take a quick look and then I’d like to take you to the basement where I had a ghost experience.
RAY: Never start a sentence with that — I’d like to take you to the basement, Ray.
JEFF: Yeah. Yeah, it’s going to be great.
RAY: Lead into that with something positive and fluffy.
JEFF: Hop in the van, there’s puppies and candy. (Laughs)
SUE: The creepiest room in the house is straight ahead.
RAY: Oh, good.
JEFF: Straight ahead.
RAY: This right here? Yeah?
JEFF: I’m going to — the chest full of toys. I’m going to tell you a story that LeeAnne told me because we — we can’t talk to her, unfortunately — she’s tied up today.
JEFF: But she told me — and this was probably the first time I asked her about it — I mean, years and years ago. It was one of her first nights sleeping in the house and she had said that she had woken up and there was a rocking chair, right? A rocking chair in the corner.
SUE: In Bridget’s room.
JEFF: Yeah, so she was sleeping in Bridget’s room and I guess she went to the bathroom and the chair was rocking. And she had said that she went to sleep that night and like okay, the chair stopped, a little freaked out. She wakes up and the chair had been moved to right next to the bed.
SUE: Oh, yeah.
JEFF: And she sees the chair — I’m, ugh — come on.
RAY: I’ve got goosebumps.
JEFF: I am into this stuff.
RAY: That’s amazing.
JEFF: And like —
JEFF: That’s when you’re like check please, but you own the place so you can’t check please, you have to stay.
RAY: I think if I was staying here, I would be sleeping next to the closest exit to the street, not to like a staircase.
JEFF: Right, right.
RAY: I’m not on the third floor. Although I’m intrigued now — would I stay here?
JEFF: So this is the Hosea Knowlton room. And, Sue, why is this the freakiest room?
SUE: Worst night of my life in this room, Jeff.
JEFF: What happened?
SUE: LeeAnne had to leave the property one time, so she said Sue, you’re going to have to sleep in the house with the guests. Normally we get to go home at night. She said the whole second floor is rented; we haven’t done the beds yet in the first two rooms up here, so you’re going to have to stay in the Knowlton room. Now, I hate this room most of all, Jeff, because there’s stories that sometimes people are in this bed and the toys in that toybox will come on at night.
RAY: Oh, no.
SUE: Yeah, I don’t do that whole kid thing.
SUE: So I had my sister come — my niece.
RAY: No clowns?
SUE: No. I made my niece come stay with me that night. I gave my tour, hung out with the guests; 2:00 in the morning, all the guests come to bed, so my niece and I came up here. Now, I had a night vision camera in the corner over there; I had an SP7 spirit box; I was sitting on this bed playing with dowsing rods. So I asked if anybody was up here. The rods slammed together for yes.
SUE: I said is that you, Andrew? Slammed together for yes. I said where are you? The rods bent behind me. Now, I’m always told my grandparents protect me in this house.
SUE: So I said, you know, mama, papa, are you up here? And they slammed together for yes. I said where are you? They pointed behind me. Hey, I had my niece take my picture — check this out.
JEFF: Oh, look at that.
RAY: Oh, wow — orbs.
JEFF: So we’re looking at a picture — Sue is holding dowsing rods and there’s two like orbs right by the dowsing rods.
SUE: And she says they’re right where they’re standing — said they were standing, right?
SUE: And then all the voices start coming over the spirit box. Now, I had put my cell phone down on the nightstand over there.
SUE: I says what do you want to do? We’re not sleeping. She says, Auntie, I recorded the Patriots game, let’s watch that. I said all right.
SUE: Now, Jeff, we had every light on in this attic, trust me.
SUE: I reached over to get my cell phone and before I even reached the nightstand, it was like I got electrocuted in thin air.
SUE: So I yanked my hand back and I called my niece around the bed. I said hey, put your hand out near the nightstand. She yanks her hand back; she’s like what the heck, right?
JEFF: Yeah, right.
SUE: So we’re sitting here googling it and she comes up with this website that says if you touch a spirit, it feels like an electrical spiderweb. Well, the second she says spiderweb, every light in this attic went out at once.
SUE: So I’m like forget that, we’re not sleeping up here, right? We put our cell phone flashlights on, grabbed all our stuff, huddled together running out of the attic. We get to the landing, all the attic lights came back on.
SUE: And then all the lights from the second to the first floor went out. I couldn’t leave the house, so we just kept running to that first room, the front parlor.
RAY: Where the light was — follow the light.
SUE: And we just sat there, huddled, watching the Patriots until the cook got there.
JEFF: Who would have thought that a house where two people were murdered and no one was ever punished for it would be haunted all these years later?
RAY: (Laughs) Right.
JEFF: I wouldn’t get it. All right. Let’s head down to the basement and then I want to show you where something weird happened to me.
JEFF: Trust me.
RAY: I don’t trust that face.
RAY: You can’t see that face, folks, but there’s something sinister behind it.
JEFF: The first time — I’ll tell you on the way down.
RAY: Yep, go ahead.
JEFF: The first time I came to the house, it was for — we were doing a live radio broadcast, Spooky South Coast, my buddy, Tim Weisberg — hi, Tim. LeeAnne had some minor renovations going on, so the house was shut down and we were the only people in it. There were four of us. And we had done the show probably about 11:00 p.m. and then around 11:30, we all went down here to the basement.
RAY: Okay. Thank you.
JEFF: Thank you, Sue. So we went down here to the basement.
(Sound of footsteps on stairs)
JEFF: And we had just got to the bottom of the stairs.
JEFF: And we’re standing right about here, where we are, and all four of us hear like two sets of scampering footsteps — not one, two — going from the side door right into the kitchen, just like thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, right?
JEFF: And we all looked at each other and went oh no — like no one thought ghost.
JEFF: We thought kids from Fall River just broke in; LeeAnne trusted us with the place; we’ve got to call the police; we’ve got to manhandle them out, whatever.
JEFF: And we were up those stairs — however long it would take you to run up those stairs — five, six seconds, right?
RAY: Yeah, sure.
JEFF: And we get to the kitchen — there’s no one there.
JEFF: We check the door — it was locked, just as we left it. Then we all look at each other and went okay. Now, I know that’s not as profound as seeing mists and getting electrocuted, but like — you know, this doesn’t happen to me often.
JEFF: And this is one of those places where I just went okay, I can’t explain that. And I’ve been in this house many, many times since — I’ve not heard the footsteps since.
JEFF: There’s nothing that could make that — it was two people, that like ran.
SUE: Probably the kids, yeah. I’ve heard it occasionally. Like you said — you could be in this house a hundred times and not have an experience.
SUE: But that 101st time, you might hear the footsteps go across the ceiling above you.
JEFF: So you mention the kids — and you’re talking about Borden kids, right? The next door?
SUE: They are Borden kids. They actually would have been Andrew Borden’s cousins.
JEFF: So the Bordens were not the first two people murdered in this vicinity — Andrew and Abby — they weren’t even the first two Bordens murdered in this vicinity. Next door, right? It was —
SUE: That’s correct. That yellow house next door, in the 1840s, belonged to Andrew Borden’s uncle, Lawdwick Borden.
SUE: He lives there with his wife, Eliza, and three young children.
JEFF: And so one day the wife snaps and tries to drown three of her children in the cistern.
JEFF: Succeeds in killing two of them, Holden and Eliza, and then slits her own throat and kills herself.
JEFF: And that happened right there.
RAY: Right there.
JEFF: Like feet away from us, right?
RAY: And they were familiar with this house at the time?
SUE: Absolutely. It was 1840, so it was like all one property back then.
JEFF: Yeah. So we’re talking 50 years before Andrew and Abby, that happened. So there was a newspaper report from 1892 that said is there like a black cloud hanging over this property? Because this is now like, you know, four Bordens and, you know?
JEFF: Like brutally murdered.
SUE: Deadly grounds, huh?
JEFF: Yeah, scary. And so those footsteps, they sounded like scampering kids when we were here. They sounded like — they didn’t sound like adults stomping or walking, they ran.
RAY: Sure. Light footsteps running, yeah.
JEFF: And yeah. And one other thing before we head upstairs.
JEFF: So the couch is right about here-ish, right?
JEFF: So, Ray, the blood would have been dripping.
JEFF: And I believe they’ve used luminol at some point, right?
SUE: I’ve heard the detectives from L.A. came out here and sprayed the luminol and saw blood. Whether or not that’s true, Jeff, I can’t really say.
JEFF: Sure. Luminol looks for, I believe, the iron content of the blood. It can light up for years and years later. And, I mean, the blood would have soaked the couch, soaked the floor, and soaked this wood.
RAY: Right, gone through the floorboards, yeah.
JEFF: Right above our heads right now. Ugh.
RAY: Wow. Wow.
JEFF: So this is the Lizzie Borden basement.
JEFF: This house has been here — how — what year was it built?
JEFF: 1845. So the house has been here a long time.
JEFF: And it’s haunted.
SUE: Back there is where I got growled in my ear — that back room.
RAY: Okay, I’m going to stay away from there. (Laughs)
JEFF: So let’s head back up and we’ll —
SUE: You don’t want to show him this?
JEFF: Oh, the cistern, right?
JEFF: Oh, please, yes — sorry, thank you.
RAY: The what room?
JEFF: The cistern. And this is important to the case, right?
RAY: All right, stay close to me, will you? I don’t want to be the last one.
JEFF: So we’re looking at like a pot in like a brick wall here.
SUE: Like a laundry.
JEFF: It’s like a — yeah, it’s an old cistern.
RAY: Okay. Oh, more pictures.
SUE: So it’s pretty cool — now, we can’t say this is paranormal, but anytime we bring guests down here and we tell them to put their flash on. You know, it’s original and we tell them take you a photograph.
RAY: Let me do it.
SUE: You give it a try.
RAY: All right. Flash on? Or does it matter?
SUE: Yeah, put your flash on.
RAY: I’m going to do one without. And I’m going to do one with the flash.
JEFF: And what was the significance of this cistern with the case, right? Wasn’t her — her dress in it or?
SUE: Lizzie was seen coming down here a few days after the murders. She walks past the privy and she goes this way. So the officer looking through the side window ran around the back of the house to see what she was up to. Now, at some point she had squatted down in front of a sink and then in front of this. As you can see, Jeff, all these bricks have been searched. They didn’t find anything, but she was obviously up to something here.
JEFF: Yeah. So possibly trying to hide something or whatever.
SUE: Could be or cleaning something.
RAY: For some reason my flash won’t go off. Ooh, maybe that’s a thing.
SUE: Could be.
JEFF: Hit it.
RAY: I am. I think it’s too bright.
JEFF: Got it. So it’s trying to correct for you. So yeah, all right, so this is the cistern.
SUE: Here, I’ll show you my photograph.
JEFF: All right. So Sue is showing us her photo.
RAY: And what are we — are we looking for more orbs?
JEFF: Oh, like a face, yeah. I see it —
RAY: Oh, yeah.
SUE: You can see here the same eye is messed up.
RAY: Oh, wow.
JEFF: Oh, yeah.
SUE: Now, whether or not this is Andrew, I don’t know. But I’ve heard it’s a psychic impression.
RAY: Yeah, the hairline and — you can see it —
SUE: Doesn’t it match up?
RAY: You can see it, oh yeah, it does.
JEFF: All right, I’ll try this. I’m going to try to take a picture — same thing.
RAY: And have you examined that with like a flashlight to see if you can see it?
SUE: You can see it by shining a light.
SUE: I’ve heard it’s a psychic impression in the wall and that it is Andrew Borden.
JEFF: Oh, I see it right now.
SUE: Yeah, isn’t that wild?
JEFF: Yeah, there it is. See?
RAY: Oh, that’s — yeah, look at that.
JEFF: So I just took a picture. We’ll post this with the episode. Yeah, you can —
RAY: Yeah, we’ll get a few more pictures too, right?
RAY: Who’s going to do laundry down here? And do they come down in pairs?
SUE: Housekeeping does it.
JEFF: Yeah. Oh gosh, it’s already —
RAY: Do you have to hire outside people to come in and do this kind of stuff?
SUE: Oh, yeah.
RAY: And they’re — they’re okay with it, obviously. Do you lose a lot of people?
SUE: I mean, some of the housekeepers get freaked. We have had a housekeeper make the bed, turn back around, and saw a big indentation on the bed, and never came back.
RAY: Sure. (Laughs)
JEFF: Perils of the job. Okay, we’re going to head back upstairs and we’ll finish this up.
RAY: I’m not going last, so. Yeah, Sue’s going last, yeah.
JEFF: Good luck. All right, we’re heading back upstairs, back to the kitchen area — right about where we started this whole grand tour. And this is where the final meal would have been prepared that day, right here in the kitchen.
JEFF: Mutton; mutton. Sue, thank you for doing this with us.
RAY: This is great.
SUE: It was my pleasure; my pleasure.
RAY: So glad we did this. Thank you.
JEFF: You got to see the Lizzie Borden House.
JEFF: What’s your reactions now? You’ve been to a place — two people were murdered here.
JEFF: And you were right there.
RAY: Four on the grounds.
JEFF: Four on the grounds.
RAY: My impression is it’s a nice place. I know you were growled at and I didn’t experience anything like that, but I feel comfortable — much like I did in the Conjuring House.
RAY: I have no like bad feelings, but I also feel like some stuff happened here. You know, you can sense that walking through the house.
JEFF: There’s a heaviness to it. And I think, especially when you know the story — when you know a little bit about the history, and you walk where history happened — where, you know, where people lost their lives.
JEFF: You connect to it and that’s not being psychic, that’s just being human.
RAY: Right. And I do feel a connection — luckily it’s not a negative connection.
JEFF: Right. But it’s —
RAY: But who knows? If I stayed here a little while longer?
JEFF: Yeah, it gets late.
RAY: I could change my views.
JEFF: It gets quiet.
JEFF: It’s Halloween, of course.
JEFF: And yeah, scary things are afoot.
RAY: I mean, you have to take into account the creaks — there’s just the natural creaks of the house.
SUE: Yeah. And, you know, this is — like Chip told me, you know — Sue, nothing demonic in the house. But it is a little unnerving if somebody talks in your ear and there’s nobody standing there.
RAY: Oh, sure — that’s not a creak in the floor.
SUE: Or you get touched or, you know, you hear the creaks in the floor, the footsteps above you.
RAY: Or you get zapped by an entity, yeah.
SUE: You know, zapped in mid-air, you know?
RAY: Yeah, okay.
JEFF: So as dark as the history is, of course — people were murdered here, we know that. But at the Lizzie Borden House, it’s safe to say, they do treat you like family.
RAY: They DO treat you like family at the Lizzie Borden Borden House.
JEFF: That they do. We’d like to thank the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast and Museum for giving us the run of the place for a little while. And thanks for Sue Vickory for leading us through and sharing her stories.
RAY: Happy Halloween to all of our legendary listeners. We appreciate you guys. So please do us a favor and help spread the word. Post your favorite episode on social media, and leave a review for us online. That’s how we grow. And you can also call or text our Legend Line anytime at 617-444-9683. You can even leave our show closing on there for us.
JEFF: We’d also like to thank Tim Ellis and Brad Blair from the Creaking Door Podcast for lending their voice acting talents this week. And our theme music is by John Judd.
VOICEMAIL: Hi, this is Stephanie Roswell from Austin, Texas. Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.