1. Delphine LaLaurie was a New Orleans socialite who got married three times and was a highly regarded public figure.
2. Her third marriage was to a much younger man, Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, who was a well-respected physician.
3. The family began buying slaves. And while that was messed up on in its own right, Delphine LaLaurie’s treatment of them was absolutely horrifying.
4. Harriet Martineau wrote as early as 1838 about how visitors claimed LaLaurie’s slaves were “haggard and wretched,” however this characterization did not match LaLaurie’s public treatment of slaves which was apparently decent.
5. Delphine LaLaurie apparently punished her slaves by whipping. She apparently whipped one of her slaves so brutally, she fell off a roof trying to escape her master’s beatings.
6. What triggered this savage attack? Apparently the slave, while brushing LaLaurie’s hair, had accidentally brushed a knot that pulled out one of her hairs.
7. After this incident, LaLaurie was investigated by the police for her treatment of slaves, but it failed to change her behavior. She chained her cooking slaves to the kitchen’s oven, and beat her daughter senseless when she dared to feed any of them.
8. Eventually, a fire broke out at the LaLaurie residence. One of the kitchen slaves confessed to starting the fire, saying that she had been sentenced to go LaLaurie’s uppermost room, where slaves “never came back” from.
9. Concerned citizens wanted to investigate the slave quarters, but LaLaurie refused to let them. They barged down the door and discovered a horrific sight.
10. They found seven slaves who were horribly abused and mutilated. Stories say that multiple of the townspeople vomited from the stench.
11. Many of the slaves were hanging by their necks, or had their limbs pulled from their bodies. Most of the slaves claimed to have been imprisoned there for months.
12. Other reports, such as those written by Jeanne deLavigne, suggest even worse conditions. They say that slaves had their ears detached, or their eyeballs gorged out. Some slaves even had animal feces crammed in their mouthes before having them sewn shut.
13. In the corner there was said to be a pile of discarded corpses.
14. When the LaLaurie family were questioned about this vulgar sight, Mr. LaLaurie suggested that people should “stay in their own home and […] not meddle in other people’s business.”
15. Some try to excuse LaLaurie’s behavior by suggesting that she was terrified of a slave rebellion, as triggered by the Haitian slave revolt.
16. Others suggest that brutal punishment didn’t set LaLaurie apart from many other slave owners back in the day. However, LaLaurie’s conduct must have made her standout in some way, as nearly 4,000 ransacked her home a few years after the fire incident.
17. After the mob, LaLaurie eventually vanished. Most reports conclude that she escaped to Paris to live out the rest of her life. Some rumors suggest that she faked her death in Paris so that she could eventually return to New Orleans to restart her torture in secret.
18. LaLaurie’s house is said to be wildly haunted to this day. Unsurprisingly, many of the ghosts are said to be former slaves of the Evil Madame. People apparently hear phantom footsteps and tortured moaning.