The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller

Author:Sarah Miller
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Published: 2016-01-11T16:00:00+00:00


On the morning of May 31, 1893, twelve-year-old Freddy Manchester returned home from delivering milk with his father to find his sister, twenty-two-year-old Bertha, splayed facedown before the kitchen stove. Pools and smears of blood stained the floor, her face, her arms. It matted her long brown hair and dripped through the floorboards to the cellar below. Her neck was slashed, the top of her skull “crushed to a jelly,” and five of her teeth had been knocked from her mouth. The scene, the Evening Standard said, was “fully as revolting as the appearance of either victim in the Borden tragedy.” A bloodied axe was found in plain sight on the woodpile.

Despite the obvious parallels, Marshal Hilliard insisted there was no similarity between Bertha’s murder and the Bordens’. The motive in this case, the marshal said, was obvious: Bertha’s watch and money had been stolen, and her position on the floor indicated that she had “struggled for her honor and her life,” though she had not been raped.

Following the trail of Bertha’s missing property, police soon accumulated enough evidence to arrest a Portuguese immigrant named Jose Correa deMello, who had recently been fired from the Manchester farm without pay.

Jose Correa deMello first pled not guilty, then, most likely in hopes of escaping the death sentence, switched his plea to guilty of second-degree murder. On January 8, 1894, he was convicted and sentenced to the state prison for life.

To the Borden jurors, who were already sequestered before word of the deMello arrest hit the newsstands, it must have appeared that an axe-wielding murderer was still on the loose. Surely they wondered—could it have been the same killer? A coincidence? Or was it what we would now call a copycat crime?

One thing was undeniable: it could not have been Lizzie Borden.

But could Jose Correa deMello have killed the Bordens? At the time of his arrest in May 1893, he had been in the United States for less than a year—possibly as little as two months. Depending on exactly when he arrived, Correa may not have been in the country on August 4, 1892.

Here is something else the Borden jurors could not take into account: two decades after the murder of Bertha Manchester, Jose Correa deMello was pardoned and instructed to go home to the Azores, never to return to the United States again. Why? No one, not even the most exhaustive Borden references, offers an explanation.


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