The city of New Orleans is known for its jazz music, crazy parties, creole food, are carefree attitude. However, unbeknownst to many visitors who flock to this city every year to let the good times roll, the Big Easy has a very dark underbelly. As much as New Orleans attracts those looking for a good time, it also attracts those with darker motives.
The Crescent City has always had an air of violence and mystery about it, as well as a violent past. With bloodshed in the streets during wartime and a rich history in the dark arts, Nawlins is a perfect storm for those embracing the darker side of life. As much as the beloved city breeds art, it also breeds killers.
One of the most infamous ghost stories to escape the Crescent City is in fact rooted in a good amount of truth. While the story of Delphine LaLaurie and her mansion of horrors has changed over the years like a bad game of telephone, the bare bones are still quite shocking.
From socialite to sociopath, LaLaurie survived two husbands before moving into her mansion on Royal Street in the French Quarter. An aura of suspicion regarding the deaths of her first two husbands always followed LaLaurie, as did the questioning of the treatment of her slaves.
What occurred behind the mansion walls of her well established home? Rumors of the mistreatment of her slaves filled the streets and gossiped on everyone’s lips, but no evidence was ever brought forward to substantiate these claims. Not until a fire broke out in the residence in 1834.
Upon entering the home responders discovered the origin of the flames had begun in the kitchen. The family’s cook, a seventy year old slave, was chained to the oven by her ankle. She admitted to setting the fire as a suicide attempt out of fear of being taken to the upstairs room as punishment. She explained once you were taken to the attic you were never seen again.
The responders made their way to the top floor of the mansion, and what they found was beyond horrifying. Accounts tell us that seven slaves were found in the mansion’s attic, most of them suspended by their necks, all of them having been mutilated in one way or another. Their limbs were stretched and obvious signs of emaciation and physical abuse marked their bodies. Some even wore spiked collars to keep their head in an upright position. When investigators explored the grounds of the estate two deceased bodies were unearthed, one of them a child.
Upon hearing of the abuse that occurred within LaLaurie’s home, angry citizens rioted and attacked the mansion. The mob destroying everything inside the walls. Unfortunately the family escaped local justice and fled to Paris where any further accounts of their lives went undocumented.
The Axeman of New Orleans
The Axeman of New Orleans is a serial killer who terrified the streets of the Big Easy from May 1918 to October 1919, injuring and killing up to a dozen victims.
Very little is known about the Axeman. Many of his victims met their demise by, you guessed it, an axe. Usually the murder weapon used in these crime was the victim’s own axe. Others met their fate by a straight razor. Surprisingly nothing was ever taken from the victim’s residence, which implied the attacks were not motivated by robbery.
One connection police made was that most of the victims were Italian immigrants, or Italian-Americans, which suggested an ethnic related motive. Other professionals in the field hypothesized the murders were motivated by sex. They believe the Axeman’s real motive was to seek out a woman to murder, and the men who were killed or injured in the home were just mere obstacles at the time.
As quickly as the murders began they ceased. Even to today’s professionals in the field a motive is unclear, but one thing is certain; the Axeman has never been identified and his stories of murder and mayhem still haunt the streets of New Orleans.
The Vampire Killings
While this next double murder did not occur in New Orleans, the killer fled to the Crescent City with his vampire fledgling and clan members. That’s right, at the time of his crime Rod Ferrell believed he was a 500 year old vampire, and he, with his clan of fellow vampires, fled to the home of darkness, mystery, and romance portrayed in their favorite novels The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.
The crime Ferrell committed was the double slaying of the parents of his young fledgling Heather Wendorf. Wendorf told Ferrell living at home with her parents was “hell” and she wanted to run away with him, but she knew her parents would never let her go.
To free his fledgling from her homebound restraints, Ferrell and fellow vampire cult member Howard Scott Anderson entered the Wendorf home where he beat both of Heather’s parents to death. Rod then burned a ‘V’ into Richard Wendorf, Heather’s father, after he brutally bashed his head in with crowbar.
Thinking they would find acceptance in New Orleans, the clan fled from the crime scene in Eustis Florida to the Big Easy in a car they stole from the crime scene. Mere miles from their destination they were arrested at a Howard Johnson hotel when one of the members called their mother for money, who in turn tipped off the police to the group’s whereabouts.
Through unsubstantiated claims, those who have spoken to Ferrell from his time behind bars claim he still believes he is immortal.
The Bayou Blue Serial Killer
Ronald Dominique, also known as the Bayou Blue Serial Killer, took advantage of the welcoming and open gay community in New Orleans. Dominique stalked the bars and clubs in the city, using them as his own personal hunting ground from 1997 until his inevitable arrest in 2006. He sought out men who he thought would be willing to have sex with him for money.
Dominique claims his initial motive was just to rape these men, but to avoid the consequences of being caught and persecuted by the law, he decided killing them would ensure their silence of his crime. He killed at least twenty three victims over a ten year period before his capture by authorities on December 1, 2006. Dominique pled guilty to first degree murder to avoid the death penalty.