Newspaper article, 1893
It will be a certain relief to every right-minded man or woman who has followed the case to learn that the jury at New Bedford has not only acquitted Miss Lizzie Borden of the atrocious crime with which she was charged, but has done so with a promptness that was very significant.
The acquittal of the most unfortunate and cruelly persecuted woman was, by its promptness, in effect, a condemnation of the police authorities of Fall River and of the legal officers who secured the indictment and have conducted the trial . . . .
She has escaped the awful fate with which she was threatened, but the long imprisonment she has undergone, the intolerable suspense and anguish inflicted upon her, the outrageous injury to her feelings as a woman and as a daughter are chargeable directly to the police and legal authorities. That she should have been subjected to these is a shame to Massachusetts which the good sense of the jury in acquitting her only in part removes.
The theory of the prosecution seems to have been that, if it were possible that Miss Borden murdered her father and his wife, it must be inferred that she did murder them. It was held, practically, that if she could not be proved innocent, she must be taken to be guilty. We do not remember a case in a long time in which prosecution has so completely broken down, or in which the evidence has shown so clearly, not merely that the prisoner should not be convicted, that that there never should have been an indictment.
We are not surprised that the Fall River police should have fastened their suspicions upon Miss Borden. The town is not a large one. The police are of the usual inept and stupid and muddle-headed sort that such towns manage to get for themselves. There is nothing more merciless than the vanity of ignorant and untrained men charged with the detection of crime, in the face of a mystery that they cannot solve, and for the solution of which they feel responsible. The Fall River police needed a victim whose sacrifice should purge their force of the contempt that they felt they would incur if the murderer of the Bordens was not discovered, and the daughter was the nearest and most helpless. They pounced upon her.
. . . We cannot resist the feeling that their conduct in this matter was outrageous; that they were guilty of a barbarous wrong to an innocent woman and a gross injury to the community. And we hold it to be a misfortune that their victim has no legal recourse against them and no means of bringing them to account. Her acquittal is only a partial atonement for the wrong she has suffered.
New York Times, June 21, 1893, quoted in Forty Whacks: New Evidence in the Life and Legend of Lizzie Borden, by David Kent (Yankee Books, 1992).