Ghosts of the Past
The Lizzie Borden House Investigation
By Dave Cassenti
It’s a rhyme that many kids my age know from their childhood, especially if they jumped rope.
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother 40 whacks
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father 41.
The double murder of Lizzie Borden’s stepmother and father in 1892 was a huge story at the time, and if any house could be haunted, than SURELY it is the Borden house where the murder occurred 121 years ago, and there are a number of reports that the house IS haunted by Abby and Andrew Borden as well as numerous other ghosts, including children that were supposedly drowned in a well in the yard prior to the Borden family living in the home. This home was also one of the many paranormal locations that I was privileged to investigate with my students in December 2007, and the only one we were able to stay overnight in.
I had been teaching a class called Scientific Paranormal Research for about three years, and the TV show Ghost Hunters was popular on TV. The Lizzie Borden House had become a bed & breakfast a number of years previously, and I was interested in investigating it … Well, to be honest, I just wanted to STAY there, but my wife is squeamish, and so I had no chance. However, I had been looking for local places to investigate, and being in Fall River, MA, the house was an easy drive from our East Haddam school, and my class budget could handle a couple of rooms for one night. So, we booked the rooms in the most haunted locations available, gathered our equipment, and got underway.
After arriving at the house, we unpacked our gear, and the students were escorted to their rooms to unpack. I met with the owner and asked some of our standard questions about the house and any experiences that people have had. When the students returned to the parlor, we were taken on a tour of the home and the “hot spots” for activity. At this point, the kids were getting excited about the prospect of getting something on video or audio. The previous year, we had been to a number of supposedly haunted locations, a mansion in North Adams, MA., and a number of Civil War sites in PA, MD, WV, VA and DC, with NOTHING to show for it. At least, nothing that couldn’t be explained. But here we were in a place where a gruesome double ax murder had taken place and it was supposedly VERY haunted. We were SURE to get something!
That night, we had a séance in the parlor led by a psychic. This psychic started the séance with the statement, “We might not get anything since spirits don’t like to get ‘caught,’ so don’t be disappointed if nothing happens.” Immediately, it was apparent to me, as well as a few students, that she wasn’t a good psychic and was hedging her bets. This assessment was later verified when she couldn’t ‘sense’ the child spirits around my feet for a good 20-25 minutes after my feet got so cold they became numb. She only ‘saw’ them after I put my hand down near my feet to feel what could explain the cold temperatures (it turned out to be moving air coming from the vent in the floor). Later, during an EVP session my kids & I were running in the basement (another hot spot), the psychic ‘sensed a spirit moving around’ when she heard something in the basement. I had also heard it and, in tracing the source of the sound to the furnace, heard the furnace fire up after pulling oil into it so it could start. Needless to say, the ‘ghost’ was a 15-year-old oil furnace.
That night, the students used a Ouija board and ‘spoke’ to the spirits. However, once again, simpler explanations were often found for what occurred, and the postulate of Occam’s Razor (when multiple hypotheses exist, it is usually the simplest one that is most correct) held that the events were not paranormal. After that, everyone retired to their own rooms. So far, cameras and audio recorders had been going in all rooms, and these continued throughout the night.
In the morning, we had Johnny Cakes for breakfast, the same meal that the Borden family had on their last morning, and then packed up and went home. The next day, we began reviewing the hours of video and audio to find…