Graveyard Shift 19 Facts About Madame LaLaurie, Socialite, Slave Torturer, & Serial Killer  

Jacob Shelton
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Madame LaLaurie holds a special place in the mythology of the South, and New Orleans in particular. If there ever was a house that was haunted, it would be her mansion, a collection of rooms used for torturing and murdering slaves in the most violent ways possible. Born Marie Delphine Macarty, Madame LaLaurie, wealthy socialite and slave owner, may have been one of America’s first serial killers, with a body count that was rumored to be somewhere near 100.

Many people believe that it was after she married her third husband that LaLaurie's violent instincts kicked in. Whatever the reason, she was known to openly flog her slaves for even the most trivial of perceived slights. Even given the abhorrent standards of behavior towards slaves in her time and place, this was considered extreme, and her behavior got her investigated for cruelty to slaves in 1828, 1829, and 1832.

Some historians believe her worst tortures may have been exaggerated over time as her tale became a legend, but even contemporary news reports of the area paint a terrifying picture. With this collection of gruesome facts, you’ll come to meet one of the most disturbing people who ever walked the face of the earth, and one who never faced any recrimination for the brutal torture that she doled out to her slaves. Actress Kathy Bates depicted a fictionalized version of LaLaurie in the third season of American Horror Story.

There was never any reason for Madame LaLaurie’s gruesome and twisted murder spree, it’s as if one day she decided that she was going to start systematically murdering and dehumanizing her slaves in elaborate ways that would make the creators of The Human Centipede blush. LaLaurie’s behavior was something that made normal slave owners seem cordial in comparison.

Madame LaLaurie has become a part of New Orleans legend, and her house, as it stands now, is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the slaves who met their demise at her hands. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, you have to admit that if any building is haunted it has to be the mansion where one woman tortured her slaves to death before letting them burn alive in an attic.

She Attempted to Turn a Woman Into a Human Caterpillar


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Photo: Felix Achille Beaupoil de Saint Aulaire/via Wikimedia

After Madame LaLaurie's mansion caught fire and the people of New Orleans rushed to save the slaves who were trapped inside, they found some truly disturbing human "experiments" locked in the attic of the house.  “[A] victim [of the 1834 fire who] obviously had her arms amputated and her skin peeled off in a circular pattern, making her look like a human caterpillar,” and another who had had her limbs broken and reset “at odd angles so she resembled a human crab.”

She Wrapped Her Slaves' Intestines Around Their Bodies Like Belts


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Photo: Library of Congress/via Wikimedia

Because there's no direct timeline of LaLaurie's torture, it's hard to know when she decided to get creative with her punishments. Did she ramp up to turning a woman into a human caterpillar? Or was that something she started out with before her bloodlust waned to simple whippings and beatings? One of the sick forms of torture that LaLaurie committed was chaining women up, disemboweling them, then wrapping their intestines around their waists and letting their bodies hang and rot. 

She Stuffed Animal Waste Into One Woman's Mouth, Then Sewed It Shut


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Photo:  William James Bennett/via Wikimedia

One of the most brutal forms of torment that LaLaurie exacted on her slaves was not only disgusting, but it proves that she likely didn't act alone. After breaking into the Madame's attic to save slaves during the fire that ended her reign as the torture queen of New Orleans, people found one woman who had had her mouth stuffed with animal excrement and her lips sewn shut.

Aside from being one of the most gruesome torments that we can imagine, it's also something that would be hard to do on your own. In order to do this, presumably someone has to hold the person down, and you need at least one more person to handle the animal feces, and maybe a third to sew. LaLaurie gets the credit for being the boogeywoman of New Orleans, but she probably wasn't alone. 

She Broke A Woman's Bones To Make Her Fit Into A Tiny Cage


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Photo: Brantz Mayer/via Wikimedia Commons

Many of LaLaurie's slaves were horrifically mangled, with bones that had been many times broken and reset. When the attic was finally opened up, one woman was discovered missing her arms and legs. Another woman had had her bones twisted and broken in order to fit her inside a tiny metal cage meant for dogs. Both women were still alive.