Cortland Standard and Weekly Journal, Tuesday, August 16, 1892.
THE POSSIBLE MOTIVE.
Borden Was on the Eve of Making a Will.
LIZZIE WOULD LOSE BY IT.
It Is Alleged That She Knew of Her Father’s Plans, and Perhaps Killed Him to Insure Getting His Money.
FALL RIVER, Mass., Aug. 15.—It seems that the hatchet believed by the police to have been used in the murder of the Borden’s was not an old fashioned one, as has been described, but one of recent manufacture. It was purchased by Mr. Borden about a year ago and was kept on a shelf in the cellar. When the cellar was searched on the day of the tragedy it was not discovered in its regular place. It lay on the floor near one of the axes used to split wood, a most unusual place for it.
The hairs were easily detected on it, but the stains which looked like blood had first to be subjected to a microscopic test before their nature was established for a certainty. It was thought that they might possibly have been caused by rust.
Not Rust, but Blood.
When the physicians held the glass over the spots they found there was no iron rust about them—that they were probably human blood. There was another weapon found by the police in their search of the house. It was a peculiar looking club, and bore marks of having been stained by blood. The doctors have failed to find any wounds that were in any probability caused by such a weapon of wood. Chief Hilliard stated that the hatchet was the only iron weapon which he thought had any connection with the tragedy, laying particular stress on the word iron. The club was found in the room where Mrs. Borden lay dead, the apartment in which John V. Morse slept the night before the murder. That it was well hidden is shown by the fact that it was not found until a most thorough and exacting search was made.
Lizzie Could Not Have Done It.
Deputy Sheriff Graham said that with the ax hatchet or hatchet ax and its handle of two feet long, it would have been utterly impossible for Lizzie Borden to come up behind Mrs. Borden and strike her so as to bury the blade through her dress under the shoulder, for the reason that when she aimed and struck a blow the very weight of the blade would cause the hatchet to glance and it would swing off sideways in the nature of things. How a woman holds a hatchet and delivers a blow with it and how this hatchet must have been held, is a most interesting feature in this case.
A Possible Motive.
Chief Hilliard said that Mr. Borden was about to make a will. This statement was made to the chief by a man whose name he declines to mention. He avers, however, that the old gentleman had been at work making an inventory of his property during the ten days preceding his murder. Mr. Borden had even departed from [his usual] reticence about his own private affairs and had told Chief Hilliard’s informant that he intended to devise his property “according to his own ideas.”
Mrs. Borden was heartily disliked by her stepchildren, Emma and Lizzie. Mr. Borden, on the contrary, had a great affection for his second wife and was greatly influenced by her.
John V. Morse knew of the fact that Mr. Borden was about to draw up the instrument, so did Lizzie and Emma. All three had the same dislike for Mrs. Borden. Mr. Borden resented on all possible occasions the attitude of his daughters toward his wife, and his object in making a will could be for naught else than to leave Mrs. Borden in better financial condition than she would be if he died intestate.
The Evidence Against Lizzie.
The idea that a will was likely to be made any day will explain why Lizzie, if guilty, followed the attempt at poisoning made on Wednesday night with the brutal murder of the morning. She could not afford to delay or the will might be made in favor of the wife. This story of Mr. Borden’s intentions, given on official authority, supplies a hitherto glaring defect in the state’s case.
The evidence that Lizzie committed the crime is purely circumstantial. She was in the barn twenty minutes on the morning of Aug. 4. She left her father alone when she went out, she says, and found him dead when she returned.
Her failure to satisfactorily explain why she went in to the upper part of the stable and stayed twenty minutes in a room where, one physician says, the atmosphere was strong enough to overcome an ordinary person in five minutes, did not create a favorable impression at the inquest.
No one saw her go out to the barn. The dust covered floor proved that no one had been in the upper part of that building. No one saw her return to the house, although Mrs. Churchill was sitting where Lizzie could not have escaped observation had she come and gone as she asserts.
A strange feature of this case is the fact that Emma and Lizzie occupied the room in which their step mother was murdered the next night after the body was found. Emma still continues to sleep there.
[Popular skip-rope rhyme:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
The Chase Was a Long and Hard One.
Rain, Mud, Distance and Time Prove Obstacles of Little Moment and the Thief and Stolen Bicycle Were Brought Back Yesterday.
Aug. 18.—For the last three days a topic of absorbing interest to Cortland wheelmen and to all friends of Mr. C. H. V. Elliot has been whether his bicycle, which was stolen last Wednesday morning, would ever be found and the thief brought to justice. Just before the STANDARD went to press yesterday afternoon, the wheel and its purloiner arrived in town under the escort of Mr. T. N. Hollister, who had been...the two proceeding days and...to the matter, and we had time only to make the barest announcement of the fact. The story of the capture, and the difficulties Mr. Hollister had to overcome is, however, so interesting that we have secured the details from that gentleman and give them herewith.
The wheel was a Century Columbia pneumatic, No. 6,231, was last [seen] Wednesday morning left unlocked in front of the drug store of Fitz Boyton & Co., of which firm Mr. Elliot is the junior partner. Mr. Elliot missed it at about 9:30. It had not been gone over half an hour. Mr. Elliot at first thought a joke was being played upon him and didn’t say much about it, expecting that there would be a good laugh upon him if he made a big stir about it, and should find the wheel later on. He quietly hunted about though. But when noon came and no trace of the machine could be found, he came to the conclusion that the wheel was stolen, and both he and the Cortland Wheel Club sent notices to all neighboring towns and cities, police captains and sheriffs and to all bicycle papers describing the lost wheel and giving its number.
Meanwhile Mr. Fred Graham had heard of the loss and was pondering in his mind whether it could have any connection with the fact of his having missed a small Columbia air-pump two days before. He knew that a young man by the name of Charles Spear had been hanging around his store a number of times talking about wheels and the pump was missed shortly after one of Spear’s visits. He confided this thought to Mr. Elliot.
Mr. T. N. Hollister, independently of others, was also turning over in his mind another circumstance that had come to his notice. The night before Spear had come into the store of Warren, Tanner & Co. and had bought a pair of bicycle stockings of Mr. Hollister. For two months this gentleman had connected him in his own mind with a peculiar fact. One day he missed his wheel from the side of the store where he had left it. At the same time he saw a wheel passing on the opposite side of Main-st. that he was willing to affirm very positively was his. Spear was riding it. Mr. Hollister called to him and asked if that was not his wheel. Spear replied that it was not, that Mr. Hollister’s brother had his wheel. Mr. Hollister went straight up to his brother’s and found that it was not so. Three hours later the machine was found behind another block on the street. Mr. Hollister always believed that Spear had had it, though he had no absolute proof of it.
On this night when Spear bought his stockings, Mr. Hollister asked him if he had a new wheel. He said that he had. In reply to questions he said that it was a Columbia pneumatic, that he had bought it of his cousin and had paid $75 for it; that it was nearly new. He also volunteered the information that it had no mud guards upon it. When the loss of Mr. Elliot’s wheel became known Mr. Hollister at once in his own mind connected Spear with it. He resolved to earn that $100, if possible, offered by the Pope Mfg. Co. for the restoration of any stolen Columbia bicycle. Mr. Elliot had already fixed on Spear, as a result of the conference with Mr. Graham, and during the afternoon some one was sent down to some friends of Spear’s ostensibly to learn if he had a wheel to sell. The reply was that he was away from town, but that they didn’t believe that he had, as they thought he sold his wheel. When Mr. Hollister appeared to Mr. Elliot with his evidence their joint though independent suspicions were strengthened. Mr. Hollister at once started on the warpath. He learned from the express office that Spear had received no wheel by express. From relatives he learned that Spear had gone that afternoon on a wheel to visit friends at a place that was spelled out to him as “Onenday.”
[Next long paragraph omitted by CC editor.]
When Mr. Hollister reached Cortland he made another call upon the friends of Spear who had told him about “Onenday,” and found that it was really Onativia to which Spear was said to have gone. Mr. Hollister then retired from active life [pursuit] for a rest of a few hours. At 6 o’clock he called on other friends of Spear and proceeded to work up several other points of clue.
Yesterday morning at about 4:30 he started on his wheel in a pouring rain for Homer. There he learned that Spear expected before he returned to visit cousin Lyman Hayes in Manlius. Mr. Hollister took the early train from Homer and went to Onatavia, and thence proceeded on his wheel to Lafayette. At this place Mr. Hollister made inquiries for one Addison Miller, whose name had been mentioned to him in connection with Spear. He found that he lived about four miles north. Thither he proceeded through the rain and mud, making frequent inquiries and getting no news of his man until within a mile of Miller’s he found an old lady, who had seen going by the house the day before about 1 o’clock a man whose description answered. She also knew of a lady from whom the man on the wheel made inquiries. If this man was the right one as he afterwards proved to be, the clue obtained in Tully and from the bicycle on the train was a false one. It seemed best to follow this up and he found a young man here at the house whose services he enlisted in his cause. The young man found out from the second lady above referred to that the wheelman was asking the road to Cazenovia. From the Millers he found that the young man had been there the day before, and that his name was Spear and that he had gone to visit relatives in Manlius. While the young man was making these inquiries Mr. Hollister with not a dry thread upon him was roosting upon a stone wall under an apple tree in a pouring rain, endeavoring not to be seen by the Millers. The young man was then engaged to carry Mr. Hollister back to Lafayette. The wheel was loaded into the buggy in front of the two men and they were soon back in the village.
There Mr. Hollister called up the central telephone office at Manlius and inquired if Lyman Hayes lived there. An affirmative answer was given, and the operator was requested to find out if possible without letting Mr. Hayes know of the inquiry if a young man named Spear was at his house, who had in his possession a Columbia pneumatic wheel No. 6,231. The operator was requested to call Mr. Hollister as soon as he learned the facts. Forty minutes passed and no reply came. Then Mr. Hollister called and found that the operator had lost his address. He had found out that Spears was there and had the wheel, that he was just on the point of starting for Cazenovia. Mr. Hollister told him that a warrant was out for Spear and asked him to get a constable and have him detained and he would get over there with all speed. Mr. Hollister had already engaged the best horse he could find in Lafayette and a man to drive, and within two minutes they had started for Manlius. The distance was fifteen miles and it was covered in one hour and a half. Men, horse and carriage were plastered with mud.
Arrived at Manlius they found that Spear had confessed his theft and expressed his willingness to return to Cortland. The constable there evidently took [an] active detective for a constable for he took his address and told him that he had some business for him to do for him very soon. There was scarcely a stop of five minutes at Manlius, for Mr. Hollister wanted to get back to Jamesville in time to get the afternoon accommodation train for Cortland, so he could attend the Wallace party last evening. They had thirty minutes in which to make the seven miles through the mud. Spear got into the carriage with the driver and Mr. Hollister rode the wheel. After going a mile or so Spear expressed his willingness to ride the wheel and they changed places. Train, carriage and wheel drew up to the station at exactly the same time. Mr. Hollister had an opportunity of whispering a message to a friend on the train and at the first stop a telegram came over the wires to Cortland to Mr. Elliot telling of the capture. At Cortland Spear stepped off the train into the arms of Deputy Sheriff Richard Miller and was taken at once to jail. He was astonished, not knowing that a warrant was out for him, but he had believed that he would have an opportunity of settling for the offense.
This morning at 10 o’clock the police court was well filled with wheelmen interested in the case of Spear which was set down for that time. Spear was not accompanied by counsel, but pleaded not guilty to the charge and waived an examination. He was held in $1,000 bail to appear before the grand jury and for want of that amount was committed to the county jail.
Had it been any other machine than a Columbia that was stolen it is likely that both machine and thief would still be at large, as no other company that the Pope Mfg. Co. is known to have a standing offer for the restoration of stolen wheels, and it is hardly probable that any one from a solely disinterested point of view would take such a chase as did Mr. Hollister.