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LaLaurie Slave Murders in New Orleans
Delphine and Louis LaLaurie
One of the prominent figures in the story of the LaLaurie slave murder case of 1834 is Delphine LaLaurie. Delphine LaLaurie was born Marie Delphine McCarty around 1775 in the town of New Orleans, Louisianna. She was the daughter of Barthelmy Louis Macarty and Vevue Lecomte, long time citizens of the city. Her parents were murdered, however, during the slave uprising in Port au Prince, Haiti.
Delphine's cousin, Augustin de McCarty was elected Mayor of New Orleans in 1815 and was in office until 1820. Delphine's connections within the city elevated her in social circles, and she played the part by throwing elaborate parties at her home at 1140 Royal Street.
Delphine was married twice before she married Dr. Louis LaLaurie. Her first marriage to Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo in 1800 ended when he died in 1804 in Havannah, Cuba. Her second husband, Jean Blanque, died in 1816. Delphine married Louis on June 25, 1825. The couple purchased the property on Royal Street in 1831 and didn't move into the house until its completion in the spring of 1832.
Delphine had a daughter by her first marriage, Marie Delphine Borja Lopez y Angula de Candelaria. She had four more children by her second husband: Marie Louise Pauline, Louise Marie Laure, Marie Louise Jeanne, and Jean Pierre Paulin Blanque.
Louis LaLaurie came to New Orleans from France to set up his practice. There is nothing in his past that points to an interest in the kind of cruelty that supposedly was enacted on the slaves owned by the LaLaurie family.
The LaLaurie House
Story in "The Bee" Newspaper
The source of this story is largely from the April 11, 1834 newspaper account in the The Bee. (See link to this actual article below). In the reporter's account is the following information:
"...the doors were pried open for the purpose of liberating them. Predisposed to taking this liberty, (If liberty it can be detailed) several gentlemen impelled by their feelings demanded the keys which were refused them in a gross and insulting manner. Upon entering one of the apartments the most apalling spectacle met their eyes. Several slaves more or less horribly mutilated, were seen suspended from the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. Language is powerless and inadequate to give a proper recollection of the horror which a scene like this must have inspired. We shall not attempt it, but leave it rather to the reader's imagination to picture what it was!
The slaves were the property of the demon in the shape of a woman whom we mentioned in the beginning of this article. They had been confined by her for several months in the situation from which they had thus been rescued and had merely been kept in existenceto prolong their sufferings and to make them taste all that the most refined cruelty could inflict. But why dwell upon the particulars! We feel confident that the community share with us our indignation, and that vengeance will fall, heavily full upon the guilty culprit. Without being superstitious, we cannot but regard the manner in which these atrocities have been brought to light as an especial interposition of heaven.
Since the above was in type, the populace have retired to the house of this woman and have demolished and destroyed everything upon which they could lay their hand. At the time of editing this story, the mob remained unbridled and threatens the total demolition of the entire edifice."
Links to LaLaurie Mystery Sources
Truth or Myth?
The newspaper article obviously leaves a lot to the imagination. The stories that exist describe the discovery of 12 victims to this crime. The victims, other than those described in the above article, have been described as a woman kept in a cage who had her limbs broken and set at strange angles, resembling a crab. Another is described as having a crude sex change operation. Yet another is described as having had her limbs removed and strange circular pieces of skin removed from her back so as to resemble a caterpillar. Some of the dead bodies were described as having had their faces mutilated so they resembled gargoyles. Supposedly, there were also buckets of body parts around the room as well.
People question why no one heard anything coming from the building where the victims were discovered. Reports detail the building as an outbuilding, not the main house, where the cooking was done (two slaves were found chained to the stove). This isn't improbable since "summer kitchens" were common place then, and still today, so the house wouldn't become hot while food was being cooked.
Another story is that of the 75 additional skeletons being found beneath the floorboards of the third story somewhere around 1969-1970 during house renovations. I personally have been unable to find any record of this, but if someone can provide me with a link to a verifiable news source, such as a newspaper or television station, I'll gladly add it to this article.
After the Crime
No one seems to really know what happened to the LaLaurie's after they fled the fire and angry mob in a horse drawn carriage. Some people believe that she fled to the north of the city, while others believe she sought passage to France.
It is possible that she did indeed go to France. In 1941, a copper epitaph plate was found in the No. 4 Alley of the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 that had the following inscripition:
"Madame Lalaurie, nee Marie Delphine Macarty, decedee a Paris, le' 7 decembre, 1842, a l'age de 6--" (part of the plate is missing).
This plate infers that she died in Paris on December 7, 1842. She apparently was interred in the New Orleans cemetery without detection, though which grave is hers, no one knows.