Madame Delphine LaLaurie: The ‘American Horror Story’ of a Socialite Serial Killer


This is some messed up shiz right here. When a woman’s past-time is torturing people for sadistic pleasure, you might want to forego her next dinner party. You never know what you will be eating, or should I say who you will be eating.

Delphine LaLaurie was renowned as a beautiful socialite in her heyday, but today many might picture her looking something like Kathy Bates, who portrayed her in the popular television show American Horror Story‘s third season, subtitled Coven. Bates has something of a history playing violent female characters. In Misery, she played fangirl turned ruthless captor Annie Wilkes, a monster of a woman that could strike fear in the heart of the world’s most virile men.

In 1831, she bought a property at 1140 Royal Street in the New Orleans French Quarter, and managed the building of a three-story mansion, complete with adjoining slave quarters.

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The LaLauries held many dinner parties in the mansion, aided by their collection of slaves. Guests noted the unusually high number of slaves the couple kept for a non-plantation property, as well as their “singularly haggard and wretched appearance.” Delphine became known for her sadistic treatment of slaves, in one case chasing a young girl around the house with a whip. The chase ended when the girl chose a fall from the third story rather than a lashing.

Madame LaLaurie was fined $300 for the girl’s death and forced to sell her slaves, but she easily went around the law when she had family members buy the slaves so she could smuggle them back into her home. Nothing else was done about her mistreatment of slaves until the fire of 1834.

The fire began in the slave quarters during one of the family’s signature dinner parties. When police and fire marshalls arrived, they discovered a seventy-year-old slave, the cook, chained to the kitchen stove. She later confessed to starting the fire in an attempt to commit suicide so she might escape the LaLauries.

She led authorities to the torture chamber on the mansion’s third floor, so they could see firsthand the sadistic experiments Madame LaLaurie and her husband had been systematically conducting on slaves. Leonard LaLaurie, it seems, was conducting gruesome medical experiments on slaves at the sadistic command of his wife.

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