Lifetime is taking a stab at one of America’s oldest murder mysteries for this week’s original Lifetime movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe.
It’s the story of Lizzie Borden, the girl who was accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe. Though she was acquitted of the murder in 1892, for many, the question of her guilt remains unanswered to this day.
That’s where Lifetime is stepping in. Reviews aren’t great, with the Los Angeles Times saying that it veers into “camp” and The Washington Post complaining that the movie is “tedious.” But there’s no question that the story is an enduringly bloody tale and is bound to entertain.
We won’t spoil the movie’s take on the “whodunnit” question, but here are some crazy things you should know about Lizzie Borden before you watch tonight.
1. For the novices out there, she killed her parents with an axe…or did she? The trial was so sensational, in part, because the murder was so bloody. Lizzie’s parents were hacked to death with a hatchet, so it was the trial of the century.
2. One of her father’s eyeballs was chopped cleanly in half. Enough said.
3. You may have sung a fun little children’s rhyme about the murder.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 rhyme isn’t quite right, however: Her father got up to 10 or 11 whacks, her mother 19.
4. Lizzie stuck around town after the murders. She inherited her parents’ money, moved into a large modern house in a different neighborhood, and lived until age 66 in relative isolation. But she wasn’t done making headlines: in 1897, she was accused of shoplifting in Providence, Rhode Island.
5. Status? Unsolved. Whoever killed the Bordens didn’t leave many clues. A murder weapon was never convincingly identified, including the hatchet that was found in the Borden’s basement. Lizzie burned one of her dresses shortly after the murder, saying she’d gotten paint on it, but no bloody clothing was ever found. And, there were no direct eyewitnesses. No one else was ever charged for the murders.