In 1834, New Orleans authorities responded to a mansion fire and found a female slave chained in the kitchen. What the police didn't know was that the woman intentionally set the house on fire to draw attention to the terrors inside.
The owner of the home was Delphine LaLaurie, an upper-class socialite who was known for cruelty to her slaves. Locals suspected that in the years before, she'd chased a slave child off of the roof of the house and then surreptitiously buried the body on her property.
In the attic, rescuers found imprisoned slaves who had been deprived of food and mutilated in wretched ways. Several accounts noted that the slaves were bound in spiked collars and had their limbs chained in ways to make it nearly impossible for them to move.
Their condition was so awful that ... the police thought the general public might like to see it. Officers took the tortured slaves to the local jail, which was then opened for public viewing. Thousands of people streamed through to witness the suffering that LaLaurie had inflicted.
Many of LaLaurie's neighbors had already suspected her of mistreating her slaves. Once they saw just how terribly she'd acted, they stormed and ransacked her residence. LaLaurie escaped, and historians believe she lived the rest of her life in Paris, France. She was never brought to justice.