Testimony of John V. Morse in the Trial of Lizzie Borden
June 7, 1893

Q. [By Mr. Moody] Will you give us your name, sir?
A. John Vinnicum Morse.
Q. Where is your present residence?
A. South Dartmouth.
Q. Be good enough to give us your age, sir.
A. About sixty.
Q. Your residence had been in the west?
A. Three years ago last April I came east.
Q. Prior to the time of coming east had you been a resident of the west a number of years?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Did you bear any relation to the first wife of Mr. Borden?
A. She was a sister to me.
Q. And you are therefore an uncle of the prisoner and of Miss Emma Borden?
A. Yes sir.

Mr. Borden had three children by his first marriage; one died many years ago. Emma was the oldest, then came Alice, who is dead, and then came Lizzie.

I went to the Borden house on Wednesday, August 3rd. I had visited there three or four weeks earlier; had not seen Miss Lizzie for three or four months before that.

I arrived at the Borden house about half-past one, August 3rd. I saw Mr. and Mrs. Borden and Bridget, but not Miss Lizzie. I had dinner as soon as I arrived; they had finished. Between three and four o'clock I went to Swansea and returned to the house about 8:30 that evening. I rang, and Mrs. Borden let me in at the front door. I saw no one except Mr. and Mrs. Borden. With them I sat in the sitting room until a few minutes after ten. Mrs. Borden went to bed first, going up the back stairs. Mr. Borden and I went later.

While I was downstairs I heard someone come in the front door, go upstairs into Lizzie's room and shut the door. I did not see this person. When I went up to bed, my room was the guest chamber over the parlor. This was the room in which Mrs. Borden was found dead next day. Lizzie's door was closed when I came upstairs. I slept all night with my door open.

Q. Did you bring with you, Mr. Morse, any luggage, baggage of any kind-hand bag, or anything of that sort?
A. No sir. 

I got up about six, dressed and went down. I did not enter that room again before I left the house. Lizzie's door was closed when I went down. The first person to come downstairs after me was Mr. Borden, and then Mrs. Borden. She came into the sitting room, where I remained until breakfast. Mr. and Mrs. Borden ate with me about seven. We had some mutton, some bread, coffee, cakes, etc. There were bananas on the table. We were about half an hour at breakfast; all three partook of the breakfast and arose from the table together. Mr. Borden went into the sitting room with me; Mrs. Borden was in and out of that room. She was dusting with a feather duster. After that-some fifteen minutes before I went away-she went into the front hall.

I left the house fifteen or twenty minutes before nine. I left by the rear door-the screen door. Mr. Borden came to the door with me. I saw Bridget in the kitchen as I went out. I unhooked the door, and Mr. Borden hooked it after me. When I left the house I went to the post office; then to Weybosset Street, to see my nephew and niece. It is about a mile and a quarter distant, and I walked. My nephew was out, but I called on my niece, staying until about 11:20. I returned by the horsecar, alighting from the car at Pleasant and Second streets and walking to the Borden house.

Nothing attracted my attention at first. I went into the back yard, to a pear tree, picked up two or three pears and ate part of one of them. Then I went to the house where someone informed me that something had happened. I went in and saw the body of Mr. Borden; then I went up the front stairs far enough so I could look under the bed and see Mrs. Borden. This was the bed where I slept the night before. When I had gone up the stairs so that my head was four or six inches above the floor, I could see her body. I had been told she was there.

I had not seen Lizzie at all, from the time of my arrival on Wednesday, until I returned to the house on Thursday, after the murders. When I came back, Mr. Sawyer was at the door, and, I think, Bridget Sullivan. Dr Bowen and two or three policemen were in the house, and, I think, Mrs. Churchill and Miss Russell.


Q. [By Mr. Robinson] I have only a few questions, Mr. Morse. If I understand it correctly, on Wednesday afternoon you arrived at the house about half-past one? A. I did.
Q. That was past the dining hour?
A. Yes sir.
Q. So you didn't sit at the table at dinner with anybody in the family?
A. No sir. They were in the room with me, not at the table.
Q. Mr. and Mrs. Borden?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And do you know of your own knowledge who provided the meal that was set before you?
A. Mrs. Borden brought it in herself.
Q. Did you see Bridget Sullivan there at that time?
A. I did not.
Q. Did you see her that afternoon?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you see her that night after your return?
A. No sir.
Q. Then you came there at half-past one and had your dinner; and how long did you remain after that before you went away?
A. I think it was nearly four o'clock.
Q. You were gone until what time in the evening?
A. Fifteen or twenty minutes to nine.
Q. And from twenty minutes of nine until the hour of retiring you remained in the sitting room with Mr. and Mrs. Borden?
A. Mrs. Borden didn't remain there a great while before she retired.
Q. Do you know whether they were sick at that time or not?
A. They were.
Q. Do you know whether Miss Lizzie was or not?
A. Mrs. Borden told me she was.
MR. MOODY. He did not see her.
Q. Were you told so by Mrs. Borden?
MR. MOODY. Wait a moment, Mr. Witness. I pray your Honors' judgment.
The CHIEF JUSTICE: In the opinion of the Court, it will be hearsay evidence.
Q. You have been asked about the breakfast. You three sat round that dining table there in the dining room practically as it is now?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And was the breakfast room furnished about as you see it now?
A. Yes sir.
Q. And, Mr. Morse, generally how was the table set; that is, what kind of dishes or ware were on the table?
A. I think it was white ware.
Q. As I understand, you had for breakfast, mutton and bread and coffee and cakes and bananas?
A. Yes.
Q. And you do not know but what you had johnnycake too?
A. I don't recollect about that.
Q. You would not say you did not have?
A. No sir.
Q. That was the bill of fare, was it?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You and all partook of what was there, as I understand it?
A. I think so; I did not notice what they were eating.
Q. You did not scrimp yourself at all?
A. No sir.
Q. It was a good fair breakfast?
A. Plenty of it.
Q. There was nothing mean or stingy about it?
A. No, I don't think there was.
Q. I will ask you whether you have observed anything in the use of the front door in regard to the spring lock, Mr. Morse?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What is that?
A. Well, if you shut the door hard, the spring lock would catch; if you didn't, it would not.
Q. Then if it did not catch-
A. You could open it without any trouble.
Q. Push it, or turn the ordinary knob, and it would come right open. And when had you noticed that?
A. That was after the tragedy.

When I first saw Lizzie, after entering the house, she was sitting in the dining room. I think there was no one with her: Mrs. Churchill and Miss Russell were in the sitting room, where Mr. Borden was lying on the sofa. There were blood spots on the door leading from the sitting room to the parlor. These stayed there until Sunday, when they were washed off by Miss Emma.

Q. Did you notice the officers making any examination of any part of the premises at any time you were there?
A. Yes, I was with them part of the time.
Q. Where did they go?
A. Went up in the second and third story.
Q. And what did they look at?
A. Looked at everything, I guess.
Q. They did? Well, were they thorough about it?
A. I think so.
Q. Well, for instance, what did you see them do in the way of making a search?
A. I see them overhauling everything. I unlocked a chest or a trunk or something of that kind up in the attic that they couldn't get into.
Q. Did they have full opportunity to look about?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Was there anybody there to stop them?
A. No sir.
Q. Did you impose any objection?
A. No sir.
Q. And nobody did?
A. Not that I know of.
Q. To your observation, as they went about, they had free search?
A. They had free access to everything.

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