Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Statement Analysis: Lizzie Borden Part One

"Lizzie Borden took an axe, and gave her mother forty whacks; when she saw what she had done,
she gave her father forty-one."

Though untrue, it stuck in the mind of those who heard it, just as it has in mine, for decades, after hearing it as a small boy.  

Lizzie Borden was tried for the ax  murders of her step mother ("Mrs. Borden") and her father.  She was acquitted.  Statement Analysis is in bold type with emphasis added to the original.  

The transcript is very long.  This is only Part One.  

Questioning by District Attorney Hosea Knowlton:Q. Give me your full name.
A Lizzie Andrew Borden.
Q. Is it Lizzie or Elizabeth?
A Lizzie.
Q. You were so christened?
A I was so christened. 

Note the parroting of language by the subject.  Note the short responses.  We need to see if she will stay with parroting and short responses.  It is in additional, or extra wording, that we get our information.  Commonly called "leakage" or "language leak", the "unnecessary" words in a sentence, those of which, if removed, still leave a complete sentence, are often deemed "doubly important" to the analyst seeking truth and content.  

Q. What is your age, please?
A. Thirty-two.

Q. Your mother is not living?

A No sir.

This short answer is the first signal that the subject is going to be quite a test for the prosecutor.  If she can keep quiet, and give such short answers, without explanation, he will be on the ropes.  Note that here she does not even say when or how her own mother died. 

Lizzie Borden, the subject, may have been very well prepared by the defense.  We will see if she is able to control herself, even to the point of controlling the interview by stonewalling the prosecution. 

Very short answers are an attempt to not only limit information, but push the prosecutor into asking leading questions, literally teaching the subject how to answer, and perhaps, how to lie.  

Since she has answered, "no, sir", we will seek to learn:

a.  Is this a pattern?
b.  Do any "no" answers cause her to omit the word "sir"?

Q. When did she die?

A She died when I was two-and-a-half years old.

Rather than the date of her mother's death, the subject gives indication that she is "front and center"; this clever answer indicates how focused the subject is on herself; the center of the trial.  

Q. You do not remember her then?

A No sir.

Leading question.  Better would have been "What do you remember of her?" and see if she would become indignant at such a question. 

In the child protective world, when a mother of a new born has tested positive for drugs, the child protective worker will ask the mother (of the newborn), "How do you discipline her?"

The indignant or laughing answer is the only acceptable answer.  You might be surprised to hear some of the responses.

Some are frightening.  

Q. What was your father's age?

A He was 70 next month.

Here she indicates knowledge of her father's birthday.  This was a bit longer than necessary.  She could have said, "69, sir."

What produced a longer response?   A.  Father.  

We now will look for any other indicators of emotion attached to her father, of whom she was accused of axing in his face (personal). 

Q. What was his whole name?

A Andrew Jackson Borden.

Q. And your stepmother, what is her whole name?

A Abby Durfee Borden. 

Q. How long had your father been married to your stepmother?
A I think about 27 years.

"Think" weakens assertion and is used by truthful and deceptive people alike.  That she is not certain of how many years her father and stepmother were married is noted.  Recall that the story told is one of hatred of her step mother and love of her step father.  We shall look to see if the language bears this out.  It is difficult to imagine the love of father given the nature of the crime.  

Q. How much of that time have they lived in that house on Second Street?

A I think, I am not sure, but I think about 20 years last May. 

Father and Stepmother together produced the weakness of "think", repeated, along with the negative of "not sure", but then refuted by something rather precise in "20 years last May."

Q. Always occupied the whole house?
A Yes sir. 

Yes or No question, responded with the word "sir" noted.  

Q. Somebody told me it was once fitted up for two tenements. 

Note:  this is not a question.  In court, whenever a statement is made in cross, I remained silent.  When the attorney said, "Well?", I responded with:  "I did not hear a question."

A When we bought it it was for two tenements and the man we bought it off of stayed there a few months until he finished his own house. After he finished his own house and moved into it, there was no one else moved in. We always had the whole. 

Q. Have you any idea how much your father was worth?
A No sir. 

Q. Have you ever heard him say?
A No sir. 

Q. Have you ever formed any opinion?
A No sir. 

note the consistency of "no, sir" without any change. 

Q. Do you know something about his real estate?
A About what?

Q. His real estate.

A I know what real estate he owned; part of it. I don't know whether or not I know it all or not. 

Here, she veered off the safest path and spoke, in the negative, about something that she should not have.  She offered what she did not know.  She also offered unnecessary information:  that she did not know if she did not know all.

The topic of worth is now to be considered sensitive to the subject.  There may be things that he hid from her, which, if she loved him deeply, might cause just as deep feelings of betrayal, perhaps even displacement if she thought he revealed these things to "Mrs. Borden."

That she was so young when her mother died, it is not expected for her to not embrace a step mother as a mother, seeing she did not know her own mother.  We are possessive creatures (see the pronoun "my") in life, and those without a mother often clamor for a mother.  

Remember:  we are not simply looking for deception, guilt, or innocence, but for the subject to reveal to us who she is. 

Q. Tell me what you know of. 

Here is an excellent question (in the imperative), worded perfectly.  No "please" and no request.  He has put the pressure on her to give detail.  Should she choose not to, the jury or judge will take note.  Should she pause, the best response is, 

"I'm listening..." and put the polite onus upon her to continue.  

A He owns two farms in Swansea, the place on Second Street and the A. J. Borden Building and corner and the land on South Main Street where McMannus is and then a short time ago, he bought some real estate up further south that formerly, he said, belonged to a Mr. Birch. 

Although dead, she refers to ownership in the present tense, while the purchase is, appropriately, in the past tense. 

Is this an indication of love, where she is not accepting his death?

I think not.  

He still "owns" it, legally, until the trial and will reveal otherwise.  Even if deeded to her in the will, she is facing the death penalty and would not "own" it from prison or the gallows.  

Q. Did you ever deed him any property? 

The question is about the subject, herself, deeding property to the father.  I find this odd.  Her answer, however, shows that the prosecutor knew what he was asking:  

A. He gave us, some years ago, Grandfather Borden's house on Ferry Street and he bought that back from us some weeks ago. I don't know just how many. 

Recall her answer about the length of the marriage.  He is now asking her something that was only "weeks" ago.  He does not let it go:  

Q. As near as you can recall.
A. Well, I should say in June, but I am not sure. 

"I should say" is a polite phrase, yet weak, and the weakness is further shown by the word "but" and "not" in her answer.  There may be something within this transaction that bothers the subject and the prosecutor should stay on it.  

Q. What do you mean by 'bought it back'?
A. He bought it of us and gave us the money for it.

Q. How much was it?

A. How much money? He gave us $5,000 for it. 

By introducing the word "money" the subject may be revealing a belief that he did not pay them full value. This should be explored.  Is there resentment?

Q. Did you pay him anything when you took a deed from him?
A. Pay him anything? No sir. 

The analyst must be open to a simple explanation of sensitivity.  Sometimes a word or phrase is repeated because it is sensitive, that is, important.  It may also be true that the subject repeats it back to ensure she has heard it correctly.  Always remain open.  It can be a pause, to think (sensitive) or it could be that the words, themselves, are bothering the subject, or it could be due to noise in the room, or poor articulation or hearing.  

Q. How long ago was it you took a deed from him?
A. When he gave it to us? 

Question answered with a question.  This is now noted concerning the topic:  deeded property.  

Q. Yes. 

A. I can't tell you. I should think five years. 

Note "can't" indicates restriction.  Is this due to faulty memory?  Or, is it for another reason.  "I should think" or even "I think" is a weak assertion which allows her to "think differently" later, just as others might.  It may be simple uncertainty, or it may be something more important.  We continue to progress, line upon line, looking for the subject to guide us.  

Q. Did you have any other business transactions with him besides that?
A. No sir.

Q. In real estate?

A. No sir.

Q. Or in personal property?

A. No sir.

Q. Never?

A. Never.

Q. No transfer of property one way or another?

A. No sir.

Q. At no time?

A. No sir.

Q. And I understand he paid you the cash for this property?

A. Yes sir.

Q. You and Emma equally?

A. Yes sir.

Nothing here has caused her to drop the polite, "sir" in her responses.  I venture a guess that at this point, this subject is "cool" and collected, likely confident from solid preparation.  

The prosecutor needs to find an emotional weakness and I love this next question because it seems to come from out of nowhere:  

Q. How many children has your father?

A. Only two.

She should have said, "two, sir."  By using the word "only", there is an emotional crack here.  Did she expect children from the step mother?  What about having a male heir to the property?

What caused her to say "only" needed exploration, not repetition, but "on the fly" is very challenging and rehearsals are so helpful.

Q. Only you two?

A. Yes sir.

I would like to dig at this a bit.  Was there a bitterness that the step mother did not grant a brother or sister to the subject?  Or, was she glad there were no children?  

What is it that caused her to add the word, "only"?

The prosecutor may have figured it out:  
Q. Any others ever?

A. One that died.

Perhaps this is the reason the word "only" crept into her answer.  

Q. Did you know of your father making a will?

A. No sir, except I heard somebody say once that there was one several years ago.  That is all I ever heard.

The answer, "no, sir" could have sufficed, but perhaps concern of someone contradicting this, she offers an exception:

"I heard someone say once" is passive voice, withholding the identity.  This is not lost by the prosecutor.  Also note "that is all I ever heard" should cause the prosecutor to find out what else she heard, that came into her mind when she used these words.  

Q. Who did you hear say so?

A. I think it was Mr. Morse.

Q. What Morse?

A. Uncle John V. Morse.

Q. How long ago?

A. How long ago I heard him say it? I have not any idea.

"I have not any idea" similar to our "I have no idea" is not to be accepted as a stop sign, instead view it as a lazy or unwilling mind needing a push and go forward to learn that one does have an idea, or a clue.  

Q. What did he say about it?

A. Nothing except just that.

Q. What?

A. That Mr. Borden had a will.

Q. Did you ask your father?

A. I did not.

Here she stops herself from parroting.  

Q. Did he ever mention the subject of a will to you?

A. He did not.

Q. He never told you that he had made a will or had not?

The prosecutor does not believe it, yet she stays with the short polite denial:

A. No sir.

In Part Two, we see the Prosecutor's impatience grow as more specifics are addressed....

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Anonymous said...

Interesting. I look forward to the next part.

Anonymous said...

I think time and place need to be taken into account. It bears on the speaker's internal dictionary.

Also, for Lizzie not to give a year or a number of years since, but to relate her mother's death to her own age is normal, given that she was 2 1/2 when her mother died.

trustmeigetit said...

Love that you are again looking at this case more.

I am not sure if you know but there was rumor that Mr Borden DID in fact have another child…. A son(William Borden). Apparently not with a woman he was married too. But not sure if it was every 100%.

They have even claimed he may have been responsible for the murder.

I however think it was Lizzie and that her sister was aware.

Also, please when you get to the part of the trial with the doctor that lived across the street, him along with Lizzie are asked about her dress that she burned.

You did a section on that a while back when I sent you the transcripts in which you noted then sensitivity. I think he was involved.

Especially since there were rumors they were having an affair.

This is a very interesting case.

trustmeigetit said...

Also, the reason I don’t think it was this possible half brother that did the murder is that I do not think if Lizzie knew about him, and there was a chance it was him, that she would not speak up and rat him out. She was facing murder charges.

Also to me, I have never heard anyone describe her as scared. Even in the trial, it seems to me that she was more indignant.

And from my observations, those that are guilty act that way frequently…. Where those that are innocent would be scared to death.

Not always the case, some are better actors that others… Like Oscar Pistorious (I think his crying is all an act - there are even rumors he took an acting class to help)

But it does seem that way to me more often than not.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic but I found it interesting and think some of you will too.
I googled Darlie Routier this morning to see if her execution date has been set. The first thing that came up was a Gofundme page for Drake. He was the baby when the two boys were murdered. He has leukemia.
Anyway, Darlie Sr. is the creator of the gofundmepage. She is using it too for a platform to talk about
the injustice that Darlie Jr. is suffering.
Also, Drake does not look like Darlie or Darren....just sayin

elf said...

Please take a moment and say a prayer for my friend Tracy Pickett missing for 22 years today from Joplin Mo. She was only 14 when a stranger gave her a ride. We never saw her again.

Anonymous said...

I wish Peter would analyze some of the Gofundme pages.

Anonymous said...

Blogger elf said...

Please take a moment and say a prayer for my friend Tracy Pickett missing for 22 years today from Joplin Mo. She was only 14 when a stranger gave her a ride. We never saw her again.

August 12, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Will do elf! It's time for a fresh set of eyes and some new forensics on this one, considering they have a person of interest.(I read an article about her on the Charley Project.) so sad

Anonymous said...

new prosecutor for moorers


Anonymous said...

I do get the impresion she wants her inheritance and she doesn't want to give the impression she wants it. however -- that's to be expected weather she killed him or not.

Anonymous said...

so many old cases looking back -- it seems maybe they didn't get the right person(s).

the lindberg baby looks like an inside job w/ modern reflection. anybody remember te footage the lindbergs put out when their baby was kidnapped? there was all this coverage of the baby up at the window but it was intercut with an exterior shot from outside the window -- very unnatural for a home video -- and very emotionally triggering -- to imagine the approach on unsuspecting baby in the window here he was supposedely kidnapped.

Anonymous said...


what objectivity!

but look at the footage of the baby that family supplies -- how did they get that exterior shot of baby in window?? thats a second story window! they had to get up there with the camera… why? why take such odd footage if it wasn't meant to tug at heart strings of public imagining kidnapping?

Buckley said...

I love this case! Thanks for analysis- I'm looking forward to part 2.

Anonymous said...

Off topic but I was hoping someone would do a statement analysis of the brown case in St Louis I just wonder if that young man who was a witness is being completely truthful not saying I think he isnt at all just wondering if anyone saw and sensitvity. Also if he was truthful a statement analysis of someone who is truthful would be a good contRast and comparison


Anonymous said...

Off topic but I was hoping someone would do a statement analysis of the brown case in St Louis I just wonder if that young man who was a witness is being completely truthful not saying I think he isnt at all just wondering if anyone saw and sensitvity. Also if he was truthful a statement analysis of someone who is truthful would be a good contRast and comparison


Anonymous said...

the St. Louis case is so sad, St. louis is crazy segrigated. it's like pre civil rights era there in lay out of neighborhoods and poverty.
I wish I wanted to read more about it - but I can't see any mystery in it - which is usually what draws me to a story.

I don't doubt the story that the teen was killed unjustly because of the climate of that city ---

Anonymous said...

Just a thought but might she have answered "only two" because, in those days, two children was an unusually small family?

It might therefore be sensitive but not for any nefarious reason but rather for social inadequacy or embarrassment.

trustmeigetit said...

The part that really made me sure of her guilt outside of the SA side of it with regards to the dress she burned….

Was that even right after the bodies were discovered, she sent everyone away to get other people. Staying alone in the home. NO FEAR of an ax murderer still in the home that was 4 stories by the way if you count the basement. So plenty of places they could have hidden.

Then that night, despite the familys wealth, she choose to stay in the home and on top of it all, the parents bodies were cut up (autopsy done there) and in the kitchen. YUCK

Then, despite all the creepiness of all this, she went downstairs once with her friend, and then a few minutes later again ALONE where she was stooped down near the sink for about 20 minutes but one of the police officers patrolling the home.

I would never be able to stay in my home if family was murdered. She was totally comfortable even doing down into the dark creepy basement alone.


Anonymous said...

So sorry elf. :( I'll keep her and you in my thoughts.

S + K Mum said...

That's so sad Elf. Do you think her case will ever be re-opened? Thinking of you and her family.

C5H11ONO said...

Q. What dress did you wear the day they were killed?
A. I had on a navy blue, sort of a Bengaline silk skirt with a navy blue blouse. In the afternoon, they thought I had better change it. I put on a pink wrapper.

--Maybe this was the straw that broke the camel's back? They though she had better change it...Who is they? Her dad and her step mom? They died soon after.

This part of her testimony had me wondering. Sadly he didn't catch on that there was a discussion that morning about what she was wearing.

Anonymous said...

This case is fascinating! Thank you for posting the analysis. I too wonder who is the " they" that suggested she put on a pink wrapper. The blue skirt and blouse were the same color as the navy blue dress she burned. Also it's interesting that her uncle who mentioned the will was the same uncle who came to visit the night before the murders. He had only come twice in like 14 years she stated. Obviously his presence in the home on "business" matters triggered something. I agree with the above poster that it is completely weird that she, her sister, her uncle and a neighbor stayed in the house the night of the murders, even after the autopsy done in the dining room/kitchen. That is beyond creepy considering they could afford to stay elsewhere.