to conceal the crime, charges of abuse were brought upon Delphine LaLaurie. This was one of several charges that had been placed upon her for abusing slaves. The court charged Madame LaLaurie a fine of only $300.00, a mere slap on the wrist for a woman
of her wealth. Her slaves however, were taken away from her and sold at public
auction. Delphine LaLaurie convinced a relative to purchase the slaves and return them to her.
the incident was set aside and life returned to normal in the LaLaurie household. On April 10, 1934, Delphine LaLaurie had yet another incident, taking place during a party. A fire broke out in the kitchen of the home. The large gray
mansion was typical of Spanish architecture at the time. The kitchen was separate from home, over the carriageway
building across the courtyard. The fire brigade entered the building through
the courtyard. Much to their surprise there were two slaves chained to the stove in the kitchen. It was apparent that these slaves started the fire in the hopes of bringing attention
to the activities inside the house.
slaves directed the fire brigade to small attic crawlspace located directly off of the balcony. The door was bolted and locked from the outside, yet screams and cries could be heard within.
The fire brigade used a battering ram to knock down the door of the room. As the door flung open, seasoned firemen who had
no doubt been exposed to death before, literally fell to their knees vomiting at the stench of death that permeated
from the room.
composed, they entered the room. There inside were at least a dozen slaves that had been the obvious victims of
very crude medical experimentations. They were chained to the walls,
maimed and disfigured.
Their faces had been disfigured, making
look them more like gargoyles than humans. One man looked as if he
had been the victim of some crude sex change operation. One poor soul,
a woman, had managed to break free from her shackles. Instead of being relieved
that someone had come to rescue her, she ran in fear of further torture. She made it past the rescuers, in through
the house, then jumped through a window. She fell to her death on the balcony below. The window remains sealed to this day.
victim had her arms amputated and her skin peeled off in a circular pattern, making her look like a human
caterpillar. Yet another, had been locked in a cage that the newspaper described
as barely large enough to accommodate a medium size dog. Breaking
the cage open, the rescuers found that the LaLaurie’s had broken all of her joints resetting them at odd
angles so she resembled a human crab. Body parts were in jars on shelves
in the room.
the survivor’s were being removed from the residence a mob of the party guests assembled outside, outraged
at what had obviously been going on within this house. They had no
idea what kind of monsters the LaLaurie’s were. Before the angry crowd
could ransack the house and find the LaLaurie’s, the family
slipped out through the carriageway and disappeared at the river’s edge.
Many believed that the LaLaurie’s
perhaps went back to Paris. But later evidence points to them possibly
settling on the northshore of New Orleans near Mandeville.
Immediately following the episode,
the building became known as the “Haunted House”. Neighbors
swore they could hear screams and cries coming from within. Superstitious New
Orleaneans refused to walk on the same side of the street. Many avoided the block
completely. The house was vacant for forty years.
Forty years later, the area was home to Italian
immigrants. There are stories from the families who lived in the house at that time of seeing a large male covered
in chains and blood walking the balcony. The children reported seeing a woman
screaming in French chasing them with a whip.
One woman, a mother of twin babies, awoke
in the middle of the night to find that a sock had been shoved into the mouth of one of the babies. Animals were
found decapitated in the courtyard. Another resident of the house, reported seeing
a man wandering around the courtyard holding his head in his hands. Before long these people vacated
the home. Again, the house was vacant for several years.
It later was used a furniture store. Shortly after the store had opened for business, the owner entered the
shop one morning to find that the entire inventory had been covered in urine, feces and blood. Believing he had been vandalized, he had the mess cleaned up and ordered a new inventory. When he experienced the same thing a second time, he decided to wait in
the building with a shotgun. In the morning, the inventory had been destroyed again, but no vandals had entered
the building. He soon moved the business.
One individual tried to open what was to be
“The Haunted Saloon” but locals refused to patron the place.
Again, it sat vacant. Eventually the house was renovated into apartments as it is today. Much of the house was in serious disrepair.
When floor boards were replaced in the
3rd floor slave quarters, the bodies of seventy five people were found who had been buried alive. The screams and cries heard in the early weeks after the fire were real. Thinking these cries to be ghosts, no one even attempted to save these
poor souls. The remains were removed from the property. To this day, this house is considered to be the most haunted
in the city. It is said that on dark, stormy nights, one can still
hear the scream of a young girl echoing down into the courtyard.
Wikipedia: Delphine LaLaurie; Joseph John Myers, An Evil on Royal Street, 1972.