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26. Starling Parallelisms

Just five days before the start of Lizzie Borden’s trial for the murder of her father and step-mother in Fall River, Massachusetts, the town was shocked by another brutal axe murder. The mutilated body of Bertha Manchester was found in the kitchen of her home. The “startling parallelism” between this case and the Borden murders—the excessive number of wounds in each case, the fact that both incidents occurred in broad daylight, the lack of any apparent motive—threatened to open a new line of defense in Lizzie’s trial. It would, at very least, challenge many of the prosecution’s stated assumptions.

Date: May 31, 1893
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts
Victim: Bertha Manchester
Cause of Death: Blows from an axe
Accused: Jose deMello
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