Madame Lalaurie: The Cruel Woman Who Tortured Slaves and Practiced Voodoo

November 2, 2016

|Olympia Villagrán

“The most hated citizen of New Orleans”, as well as “The Witch of Royal Street” were just a few of the names given to this murderous woman. It’s clear that Madame Delphine Lalaurie’s crimes revolved around kidnapping, torture, and homicide. For years the walls of her New Orleans mansion were stained with blood while nobody suspected anything. They say fire reveals our true nature, and it was indeed a fire that erupted on the side of the house where dozens of slaves endured unimaginable atrocities at the hands of the “Voodoo Queen”.

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In 1834, the fire department that entered the property of the wealthy matron suffered complete shock, horror, and disgust as they discovered Lalaurie’s torture chamber. Nobody ever imagined that such a powerful Louisiana socialite who had been known to “help” the needy was in reality a ruthless psychopath who enjoyed hurting, torturing, mutilating, and murdering the slaves she “took in.”

The New Orleans murderess had married three times during her life and was the envy of several other high society females. But during that fire in Royal Street, the fire department uncovered the façade of a sick, furious, blood-thirsty insatiable woman. Despite a seemingly normal upbringing, she turned into the monster of the decade.

The torturer was born in 1775 to a comfortable childhood and lived a regular adolescence when she met her first husband. She travelled the world, gave birth to her eldest daughter in Cuba, and later moved to the property she inherited from her husband before he died from terrible illness.

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Three years later, Lalaurie remarried. She had four daughters with her second husband, who coincidentally died after their last child was born. In 1825, Delphine married a much younger doctor, who committed suicide after going bankrupt once he signed off all rights to his fortune and properties to Lalaurie.

This is how all hell broke loose for the many who walked through the hellish wooden doors the murderess had brought from France. Aside from other remodeling, she requested a third floor be built in the mansion that would end up being where she kept her victims.

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The third season of American Horror Story showed some of the terrors that happened in that attic, but there are no words to describe the absolute horror of being at the hands of the cruelest woman of the time. Delphine managed to have several slave traders negotiate with her without any explanation whatsoever. Little by little, people began to suspect something was afoot, for when they visited her, they would notice her slaves were always in a deplorable state. However, nobody ever questioned the matron.

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It didn’t matter if they were children, adults, or elders, Madame Delphine tortured them all the same. It seemed that the more deaths she witnessed, the more desire she had to provoke suffering. Dozens perished horribly, languishing until they met their death. In April 1834, this horror came to an end for the few that were still alive. The firemen who went in to extinguish the fire that began in the kitchen of the mansion, discovered the atrocities of the chamber of torture, where she kept her slaves locked up, along with some dead bodies, and mutilated body parts.

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Despite all the evidence, Lalaurie and her daughters were able to escape during the fire and were never seen again. Years later, one of Delphine’s daughters was found at a friend’s home. It was then revealed that the murderess had boarded a ship to Paris. To this day it is a mystery how the monster of Royal Street met her end, but what is certain is that she never paid for any of her savage and heinous crimes in this life.

Translated by María Suárez

Olympia Villagrán

Olympia Villagrán

Editora de Estilo de Vida y Diseño