Eli Bence grave site

Eli Bence (1865- 1915)

A druggist at D.R. Smith’s Drugstore in Fall River in 1892, Bence played a role in the infamous Lizzie Borden case. He claimed that the day before Andrew and Abbie Borden were murdered, Lizzie Borden came into the shop where he worked and asked to buy Prussic Acid, a deadly poison. Bence refused to sell it to her. He was brought to the Borden house and positively identified Lizzie.

Bence testified at the Borden inquest and at the preliminary trial in Fall River. It is thought that his story was part of the evidence that resulted in Lizzie’s arrest.  However, at the Superior Court trial held in New Bedford, Bence’s testimony, was not admitted because it was considered to be “too remote.” (Lizzie was on trial for killing the Bordens with a hatchet, not with poison.) Ultimately Lizzie Borden was acquitted.

In 1894, two years after the murders, Bence opened a pharmacy of his own in New Bedford. His second wife was Annie Maxfield of Fairhaven and he is buried with his wife here in the Maxfield family plot.

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