Episode 24: Decades Before Lizzie Borden Gained Notoriety, This Woman was Dubbed the “Witch of Staten Island”

On Christmas night in 1843, a horrific crime rattled Staten Island. Within days, suspicion attached itself to one woman. Decades before Lizzie Borden gained notoriety, this young woman was accused of a horrific crime and dubbed the “Witch of Staten Island.” Have you ever heard of Polly Bodine?



For this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Patricia Salmon, a professor of history and author of the book Murder and Mayhem on Staten Island. She previously served as the history curator at the Staten Island Museum and on the Board of Directors of the Tottenville Historical Society and the Preservation League of Staten Island. I also spoke with Maxine Friedman, the chief curator at Historic Richmond Town – Staten Island’s historical society.


Murder and Mayhem on Staten Island; Salmon, Patricia; The History Press; October 8, 2013.

The Staten Island Mystery of 1843; Clemens; Will M.; The Era Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly; Volume 14; July 1904.

The Witch of Staten Island; Undine; Strange Company; October 7, 2013.

The Anti-Rent Era in New York Law and Politics, 1839-1865; McCurdy, Charles W.; The University of North Carolina Press; June 19, 2003.

Staten Island’s Very Own Lizzie Borden; Matteo, Thomas; SILive.com; August 9, 2011.

Edgar Allan Poe and the Witch of Staten Island; Boroughs of the Dead; Retrieved September 2018.

City Lore: The Witch of Staten Island; Rasenberger, Jim; The New York Times; October 29, 2000.

Poe’s Contributions to The Columbia Spy; Doings of Gotham; Poe, Edgar Allan; The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore; Retrieved October 2018.