Everything You Want to Know About Madame LaLaurie, the Madwoman of New Orleans

Madame Lalaurie was a particularly gruesome serial killer and slave torturer from New Orleans. She was from a rich socialite family and owned many slaves, and she is now remembered as possibly one of America’s first serial killers, killing well over 100 people. Lalaurie took pleasure in torture and is perhaps one of the cruelest people to ever exist. Here are some of her most shocking acts. This is not for the faint of heart.
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Human Caterpillar. Strange discoveries were made of Lalaurie when her mansion caught fire. People, but not Lalaurie herself, rushed to save the slaves from the blaze. In doing so, they found some of her experiments. “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,” Ranker reports.

Intestines. In another example of her sick brand of torture, Lalaurie would wrap her slaves’ intestines around their own bodies. She would disembowel women and wrap their intestines around them like belts. Then, she would let their bodies sit and rot.

Animal Waste. In one instance, she shoved animal waste in a woman’s mouth before sewing it shut. According to Ranker, this discovery proved she didn’t act alone, seeing as it would be almost impossible to do without help, as someone would need to hold the woman down.

Broken Bones. Lalaurie broke one women’s bones so that she would fit in a small cage that was made for dogs. Another woman found after the fire was missing both her arms and legs. Both women were still alive.

Stirring Brains. Many slaves had holes drilled into their heads. One man was found alive with a maggot-filled hole in his head. One man was found with a stick protruding from his skull, which had been used to “stir his brains,” Ranker reports.

Chained. Lalaurie chained her 70-year-old cook to her stove, confining her to her work station. It is believed the cook is who set the fire to the Lalaurie mansion, which freed the tortured slaves and revealed the monster that Lalaurie was.

Attic Torture Chamber. As previously mentioned, when the fire broke out, there were a number of dead and tortured slaves found in her attic. The attic served as her own personal torture chamber. Once slaves were sent up there, they were likely to never return. Additionally, Lalaurie never removed the dead bodies from the attic, so the slaves were locked up with rotting bodies.

Suicide. Lalaurie drove one 12-year-old slave to commit suicide rather than endure her torture. Lia accidentally brushed Lalaurie’s hair wrong and was chased with a whip. Rather than dealing with Lalaurie’s punishments, she jumped off the roof, killing herself.

Daughters. Whenever Lalaurie’s daughters showed any ounce of compassion toward a slave, they were beaten. They were not allowed to give the slaves any food or nourishment of any kind, Ranker reports.

Hanging. Victims would hang for months. After the fire, it was discovered that some of the slaves had been locked in shackles and left hanging until they died.

Torture Devices. She was a collector of all things torture. She had shackles of all different kinds and inward spiked collars. “The way these collars work is that when you take a breath, you are actively killing yourself, so you can either hold your breath until you die or let the collar do its job.,” Ranker reports.

Burn to Death. This probably comes as no surprise, but when the fire broke out, she had no problems with her slaves burning alive. She was perfectly fine walking away from the fire with the slaves locked in the attic.

Male Slaves. Though she tortured all her slaves, the male slaves had it the worst. The men found in the attic were missing fingernails and had their eyes poked out and their genitals cut off. She absolutely hated her male slaves, Ranker reports.

Keys. She wouldn’t give up the keys to the attic when protesters tried to evacuate the slaves. She was fine with her slaves dying in the attic, either to hide her twisted torturing or because she really got a high from causing them to suffer.

Justice. Lalaurie never paid for her gruesome crimes. After the fire, she and her husband fled and were never seen or heard from again. Some believe she went to France and lived out her life.