The Haunting True Story of A Woman Trapped For 25 Years
Sometimes, the truth is scarier than fiction. This photograph (yes, photograph, not CGI) is of Blanche Monnier, a French lady who was kept hostage for 24 years in a locked, covered room where she was forced to live in her own waste. She was rescued in 1901, after the police received a letter detailing how a lady was being held hostage in France.
The unknown letter read, to some degree:
Monsieur Attorney General: I have the honor to inform you of an exceptionally serious occurrence. I speak of a spinster who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house, half starved, and living on a putrid litter for the past twenty-five years – in a word, in her own filth.”
The letter astonished the police. They went to the home and discovered an anorexic Blanche Monnier lying in a pool of excrement and trash on a couch in an upstairs room. The 55-pound, 49-year old Blanche was hiding under the sheets, terrified. She had not seen sunlight in 24 years. A witness to her discovery described it:
We immediately gave the order to open the casement window. This was done with great difficulty, for the old dark-colored curtains fell down in a heavy shower of dust. To open the shutters, it was necessary to remove them from their right hinges. As soon as light entered the room, we noticed, in the back, lying on a bed, her head and body covered by a repulsively filthy blanket, a woman identified as Mademoiselle Blanche Monnier. The unfortunate woman was lying completely naked on a rotten straw mattress. All around her was formed a sort of crust made from excrement, fragments of meat, vegetables, fish, and rotten bread. We also saw oyster shells and bugs running across Mademoiselle Monnier’s bed. The air was so unbreathable, the odor given off by the room was so rank, that it was impossible for us to stay any longer to proceed with our investigation.
Her 75-year-old mother Madame Monnier, was discovered sitting tranquilly in the lounge room. Police immediately locked up the home and took the mother and brother in for questioning. Blanche was immediately raced to the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Paris where specialists at first felt that she would almost certainly die.
The Story Behind Her Imprisonment
During the police investigation, the truth of this chilling tale came to light. When Blanche was 25 years old, her mother found out about her relationship with an older lawyer. Blanche was forbidden to continue this relationship, and so her mother plotted to stop it in its tracks. How? Simple: by locking Blanche in a tiny room until she gave in. She never did.
Blanche’s sibling, Marcel, would later claim that Blanche was absolutely crazy, and never tried to escape the bolted and covered room. However, witnesses frequently heard Blanche shouting and arguing, begging to be let out. On August 16, 1892, one witness heard Blanche shout the accompanying words:
What have I done to be locked up? I don’t deserve this horrible torture. God must not exist then, to let his creatures suffer in this way? And no one to come to my rescue!
Blanche’s mother, Madame Monnier Demarconnay, was arrested the next day and imprisoned at around six o’clock in the evening. She was immediately placed in the infirmary where she unexpectedly died 15 days later. It was said that her last words were spoken to doctors who entered the room just moments before she died: “Ah, my poor Blanche!”
Her brother, Marcel, stood trial alone, accused of being his mother’s accomplice. The trial opened on October 7, 1901. Four days later, Marcel was found guilty and sentenced to 15 months in prison. The judgment on October 11 raised applause in the courtroom and outside on the Palace Square; the crowd displayed their approval by screaming and shouting hostile threats at him. Unfortunately, Marcel appealed the verdict and in a judgment announced on November 20, 1901, the court of appeal found that he had exercised no violence on the woman and hence, he was acquitted and released from jail.
Although Blanche Monnier did put on some weight over time, she never regained her sanity. She died in a psychiatric hospital in 1913, 12 years after she was discovered captive in her room.
Indeed, the truth is creepier than fiction.