If there is anything history has taught us, it’s that monsters do indeed exist. They walk among us in human form and rather than fangs and talons, they possess sinister intent and a murderous disregard for human life. One of these monsters lived in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the 19th century. This monster was none other than the Big Easy’s most notorious serial killer, Madame Delphine Lalaurie. Her crimes committed, albeit so long ago, have left a psychic scar on this great American city that will never fade.
In 1832, Doctor Louis Lalaurie and his new bride, the beautiful Delphine, took up residence in a grand Creole mansion in the fashionable French Quarter. Madame Lalaurie, as she was known by all who loved her, took 19th century New Orleans by storm and quickly became the queen of the Crescent City’s elite.
Delphine threw lavish parties for the rich and powerful of New Orleans’ society. She spared absolutely no expense and treated her guests like aristocracy. Guests were struck by her immense opulence and wealth as she descended the stairs wearing the finest silk dresses. However, what they didn’t realize was that under her beautiful exterior, the madame was one of the most despicable people to ever live. Some may even call her a genocidal lunatic.
The proverbial cat was let out of the bag at one of Delphine’s parties, when a guest got lost looking for the bathroom. Instead of finding the bathroom, the guest happened upon the kitchen and a sight that would scandalize the Madame. Chained to the stove was a malnourished, half naked male slave cooking the food that was being served to the guests. Thoroughly disgusted by what she saw, the guest fled from the kitchen and left the party.
The guest who fled the party apparently talked, because soon thereafter bizarre tales of cruelty visited upon the servants by the Madame quickly spread throughout New Orleans. At first, the stories were disregarded as being nothing more than vicious rumors spread by someone who was jealous of Delphine Lalaurie and her place in society. That is, until an episode occurred that confirmed those rumors in the worst possible way.
One afternoon, as a neighbor was lounging on his back porch, he was disturbed by a loud anguished cry coming from the roof of the Lalaurie mansion. When the neighbor looked up, he watched as Delphine chased a young female slave across the roof cracking a whip at the girl. The little girl screamed for mercy as Delphine shrieked words that were unthinkable for a woman of her status. The neighbor was horrified as he watched the girl approach the edge of the roof and Delphine pushed the girl to her death in the courtyard below. The neighbor got a good look at Delphine’s face as she pushed the girl. According to him she looked like a woman possessed.
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When the authorities were notified of the girl’s death, they responded by confiscating all of the Lalaurie’s slaves. Although this was in the time of slavery and slaves were considered property, treating them cruelly was still a crime. But losing her slaves would not stop Madame Delphine Lalaurie. She gave her relatives money and had them buy the slaves back at auction. The victimized men and women who were rescued from the Madame’s clutches soon found themselves right back in Delphine’s house of horrors.
With the truth of the madame being known, she was considered a social pariah by those who once enjoyed her parties. When an invitation was sent to their home, they sent it back with an excuse or obvious lie. No one would have anything to do with the cruelest woman in New Orleans. I know it will come as no shock, but some did stick by her. The very same people who shared in her low opinion of slaves. More atrocities were discovered in the Spring of 1834 which completely ended her reign as the queen of New Orleans high society.
On an unusually hot night in April, the once elegant Lalaurie mansion found itself engulfed in flames. As the New Orleans fire brigade bravely tried to extinguish the inferno, hundreds of citizens came out to see the fire. As they watched the house begin to collapse, everyone present found themselves wondering if the lady of the house was home.
After the last of the flames were put out, firefighters inspected the house for bodies. But what they found could only be described as nightmarish. In the kitchen where the blaze started, they discovered the charred, naked body of a young male chained to the stove. They believed the young male slave was the person who started the fire. This was only the beginning of what they would find.
On the top level of the house, the firemen discovered a set of stairs cleverly concealed by a bookcase that led up to the attic. When they busted through the door, they discovered the mutilated bodies of a number of men and women. Female slaves were chained to the walls with their breasts sliced off and stuffed down their throats. Their male counterparts had their genitalia removed and stuff in their mouths. Those who were barely holding on to their lives were horribly disfigured and begged for death. To top off the Lalaurie charnel house, children were discovered in cages with their legs broken.
When news of the horrific scene reached the community, a cry went up for Madame Delphine Lalaurie to swing for her cruelty. But the madame was nowhere to be found. Some speculated she was hiding in the house, and when the smoke and crowds cleared, she fled on foot. According to the official story, Madame Delphine Lalaurie, managed to make her way to France where she lived out the rest of her days in the luxury she had grown accustomed to.
For the first 70 years, the mansion stood empty and served as a home for transients who were brave enough to stay there. Locals believed the house to be haunted by the frightening apparitions of the men and women who were treated so inhumanely. When the house was rebuilt it became everything from a boarding school to luxury condos.
The stories of ghosts in the old Lalaurie mansion persist to this day. According to the many people who have lived or worked in the building ghostly goings-on happen daily. The story of Delphine chasing the slave girl with the whip has been enacted on the rooftop several times. And the end is just as it was two centuries ago, the girl falls from the roof and vanishes before hitting the ground.
Since being converted into condos, residents have reported seeing a swirling, inky black mass in the hallways. They watch in shock as the mass turns into a half-naked black man wielding a whip. He is said to chase children through the halls and then disappears before he catches them.
Those brave enough to venture up to what used to be the attic, come down with bone chilling stories. Screams of anguish and pleas for mercy are heard coming from the shadows. Sinister dark shadows are seen moving along the walls. One of these black shadows was seen in the apartment of a single mother. She was awakened in the middle of the night by her child screaming. When she walked into the room her eyes were met by a black mass leaning over the child’s bed. She fled her apartment in terror and returned a few days later to retrieve her belongings.
Considering the horrific events that happened in the Lalaurie mansion it should come as no surprise it’s haunted. To those poor souls, they cannot rest as they don’t know that centuries have passed, and their tormentor is dead. They are forever forced to relive their pain filled lives.
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