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In the French Quarter of New Orleans, it was at 1140 Royal Street where the city's more horrendous crime was discovered. Madame Delphine LaLaurie was an A-list socialite with money and connections. But Madame LaLaurie was not all she seemed. It took a house fire to lay bare this New Orleans socialite as a sadistic serial killer.
~ Intro to an episode of Deadly Women covering Madame LaLaurie.
Delphine LaLaurie (March 19, 1787 – December 7, 1849) was a sadistic socialite who lived in New Orleans. Born during the Spanish colonial period, Delphine Macarty married three times in Louisiana, and was twice widowed. She maintained her position in New Orleans society until April 10, 1834, when rescuers responded to a fire at her Royal Street mansion. They discovered bound slaves in her attic who showed evidence of cruel, violent abuse over a long period. LaLaurie's house was subsequently sacked by an outraged mob of New Orleans citizens. She escaped to France with her family.

The mansion traditionally held to be LaLaurie's is a landmark in the French Quarter, in part because of its history and for its architectural significance. However, her house was burned by the mob, and the "LaLaurie Mansion" at 1140 Royal Street was in fact rebuilt after her departure from New Orleans.

Discovery

On April 10th, 1834, a fire broke out in the mansion’s kitchen and the firefighters found 2 slaves chained to the stove. They appeared to have started the fire themselves, in order to attract attention.

The firefighters were lead by other slaves to the attic, which Mrs. LaLaurie had locked to prevent the slaves getting out, where the real surprise was. Over a dozen disfigured and maimed slaves were manacled to the walls or floors. Several had been the subjects of gruesome medical experiments. One man appeared to be part of some bizarre sex change, a woman was trapped in a small cage with her limbs broken and reset to look like a crab and another woman with arms and legs removed and patches of her flesh sliced off in a circular motion to resemble a caterpillar.

Some had had their mouths sewn shut and had subsequently starved to death, whilst others had their hands sewn to different parts of their bodies. Most were found dead, but some were alive and were begging to be killed, to release them from the pain. Delphine LaLaurie fled before she could be bought to justice, she was never caught.

Motives

LaLaurie's motives for her actions have never been made clear. One theory suggests that she and her husband, who was a surgeon, were conducting scientific and medical research; this would explain some of the positions and body modifications made to some of the slaves, and that she was doing it to satisfy some kind of morbid curiosity about the human anatomy. Another theory suggests that Madame LaLaurie was getting revenge against her slaves for a slave rebellion that had occured shortly before the mansion fire in which LaLaurie's mother was killed.

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