SuperHaunt Bucket List Location #7: Socialite Serial Killer, Madame LaLaurie’s Mansion, New Orleans

Money and status do not make you a good person.  And no better place to prove this than New Orleans, Louisiana, known as one of the most evil and most haunted cities in the world.

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On  April 10, 1834, late in the evening at an upscale party with New Orleans most elite citizens, a fire broke out at 1140 Royal Street, in the French Quarter.  Oddly, the hostess of this party, Madame LaLaurie herself, opted to move the party outside, and so it did.  Little did she know she was setting up ring side seats to what would happen next.  As the fire department and police showed up to the scene, while she scrambled to move her fine furniture out of her mansion, the authorities required access to the top levels of her home, and they were denied access vulgarly and abruptly.  They entered anyway to find a 70 year old slave woman chained to the stove as the house burned around her.  They saved her and some other freed up slaves only to hear in passing panicked stories about the third level room where others were taken and never reappeared.

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They found and forced entry into  the room, only to find a number of slaves tied up, chained, mutilated, dismembered, tortured, experimented on, in many different stages of death.  The experimental surgeries conducted in that room left their bodies in contorted positions, many with joints broken and reset, one resembling a crab.  Another was so covered with decomp and maggots that the only way the police could tell he was alive…he blinked.  It was a horrid and psychologically scarring display.  And the responsible party for all of this?  Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie, with some involvement from her third husband that happened to be a surgeon, Dr.  Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie.

Read the original newspaper articles here:

http://www.nola.com/haunted/index.ssf/2000/09/the_fire_on_royal_street_new_o.html 

There were 10 bodies recovered that night, with the surviving mutilated and tortured slaves put on display at the jail.  But the slaves had many more stories of others that were taken to that room and were never seen again.  It is estimated that there were as many as 90 victims, many buried in the courtyard and thought to be buried in the walls.  When word of these atrocities traveled through the city, a mob formed and she was run out of town.  Her house was looted by the community in an attempt to make sure nothing was left usable in the home.  They succeeded in destroying everything in mansion, and she was not seen again.

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It is widely thought, even among historians in New Orleans, that she fled to France, where she later died.  Also there are a few different known potential dates for her death, however it’s reported that after these dates, there were estate transfers to her, and that doesn’t happen with someone deceased….

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Madame LaLaurie would have found it difficult to leave her children behind and flee the country, though.  Which makes this a very plausible explanation:  The underground (not so underground anymore) VooDoo community in New Orleans believe (apparently with proof) that she faked the France trip, and traveled into the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain where she became the apprentice of the famed VooDoo Queen Marie Laveau, who she had befriended when Laveau and come to her house to do her hair.  

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Because they were friends before the fire, for a few years before the fire, while Delphine dabbled in Witchcraft, VooDoo, and other Dark Arts, I think it’s a very valid question to ask if VooDoo had a part in the torture and mutilation of these slaves as well.  To date, rarely can anyone stay overnight in this building.  

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