Often when we look at grand, luxurious mansions we are filled with envy and thoughts of: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live there?” Yet with these following huge homes – you soon won’t feel so jealous after discovering exactly what happened behind closed doors…
8. Madame LaLaurie Mansion
In the French Quarter of New Orleans stands the Royal Street mansion that was once home to Madame Marie Delphine LaLaurie. Born in 1780, Madame LaLaurie was a socialite and serial killer known for torturing and killing her house slaves. Most recently Kathy Bates portrayed her in the American Horror Story: Coven series.
On April 10th, 1834, local police responded to a house fire at the mansion. When the fire marshals arrived they found a 70-year-old woman chained to the stove by her ankles – she confessed to starting the fire so she could avoid being taken upstairs to an attic room nobody returned from.
When this room was investigated, they found “seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated … suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other.” Some had been left hanging in the prison for months.
Judge Jean-Francois Canonge entered the home and found a “black woman wearing an iron collar” and “an old black woman who had received a very deep wound on her head (who was) too weak to be able to walk.” When Madame LaLaurie was questioned about the slaves she had tortured and killed, she scoffed: “Some people had better stay at home rather than come to others’ houses to dictate laws and meddle with other people’s business.”
After digging in the yard, authorities found more bodies including some of children. An angry mob descended on the house – demolishing everything they could lay their hands on. Madame LaLaurie had to flee with her family to France to avoid being killed by locals who wanted her blood. The house remained in ruins from the mob until 1888 when it restored.
In April 2007, actor Nicolas Cage bought the house for $3.45 million. Then in 2009, the property was listed for auction as a result of bank foreclosure and purchased by Regions Financial Corporation for $2.3 million.
7. Gardette-LePrete Mansion (The Sultan’s Massacre House)
In the late 1830s, Jean Baptiste LaPrete, a wealthy plantation owner, bought the Gardette-LaPrete Mansion at 716 Dauphine Street, also in the French quarter of New Orleans. What he didn’t know was this grand house was set to become the location of one of the most mysterious and vicious mass killings in American history.
Jean Baptiste was not occupying the house himself, so he allowed a rich young Sultan from Turkey to lease the house from him. The rich Sultan moved in with his entourage and would use the house for entertaining guests. Locals noticed that heavy drapes were added to all the windows and more locks were added to the gates.
The Sultan would hold parties all through the night and a neighbor said they could also smell incense coming from the house. Then one morning in 1836, blood was noticed escaping from the front door and down the steps out into the street. Police broke down the door and found every person in the house either dismembered or mutilated. The Sultan did not survive – his body was found buried alive in the courtyard. There are many theories surrounding what could have happened at the Sultan’s house – pirates were firstly to blame and then the Sultan’s brother so he could become the only family heir.
In 1966, the house was purchased by investors and divided into six apartments. A wife of one of the investors lived in the house during the renovations and she told the Times-Picayune newspaper there were signs the home was haunted. She recalled, “There at the foot of my bed, I thought I saw the figure of a man. When the form suddenly seemed to move toward my side of the bed, I panicked and turned on the light on my night table.
There is also a legend of a tree in the backyard, above where the Sultan was buried alive, which appears to have the shape of ‘someone crawling out the ground.'”
Almost two centuries on and still nobody knows what happened inside the house that night.
6. The Petit Family Mansion
The home invasion murders that took place on July 23rd, 2007, in Cheshire, Connecticut, were the most horrific in the state’s history. Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters were assaulted and murdered, while her husband, Dr. William Petit, was injured but managed to escape. Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were at a local grocery store when they noticed Jennifer shopping with her daughters. This caught their attention and they followed her home before returning to their own homes.
Later the prosecution heard the following text messages were sent to each other: “Hayes messaged Komisarjevsky, ‘I’m chomping at the bit to get started. Need a margarita soon.’ Hayes then texted, ‘We still on?’ Komisarjevsky replied, ‘Yes.’ Hayes’ next text asks, ‘Soon?’, to which Komisarjevsky replied with ‘I’m putting the kid to bed hold your horses’. Hayes then replied, ‘Dude, the horses want to get loose. LOL.’
The two men entered the home that night, William Petit was asleep on the couch when they struck him on the head with a baseball bat and restrained him in the basement. The mother and her daughters were then restrained in their own bedrooms. Hayes had found a bankbook and convinced Jennifer to withdraw $15,000 the following morning when the bank opened. After they withdrew the money, the bank alerted the police to this suspicious activity but they failed to act quick enough. During this time, the mother and her daughters were being murdered.
Komisarjevsky announced that William Petit had escaped from the house. Hayes then strangled Jennifer, doused the entire house in gasoline and set the fire. In court, William Petit said he escaped after feeling a “jolt of adrenaline” after hearing Hayes state: “Don’t worry, it’s going to be all over in a couple of minutes.” He said, “I thought, it’s now or never because in my mind at that moment, I thought they were going to shoot all of us.”
Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the scene but were caught by the police. They were found guilty of their hideous crimes on October 13, 2011, and sentenced to death on January 27, 2012. Then in August 2015, the state of Connecticut abolished the death penalty, which turned both Hayes and Komisarjevsky’s death penalties into life sentences.
5. The Taliesin Home
American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, built the Taliesin house located south of the village of Spring Green in Iowa County, Wisconsin. He designed the home two years after he left his first wife and began living with his mistress, Mamah Borthwick. His dream home was finished in 1911.
Then in 1914, a 31-year-old chef named Julian Carlton started working at the home over the summer. As weeks passed, other staff noticed that Carlton had become paranoid and that he would stay up late at night with a butcher’s knife just staring out the window. Wright and Borthwick were not happy with Carlton being in the house and on August 14th they made him aware this would be his last day at work.
The next day, when Wright was away in Chicago, Carlton grabbed a hatchet and began to attack those in the house. He killed Mamah Borthwick with a single blow to the face and then slaughtered her son, John, as he sat in a chair. He poured gasoline over their bodies and set them on fire burning the house down too.
Carlton then went to the adjoining house, where six residents lived and poured gasoline underneath the door before setting it on fire. A draftsman named Herbert Fritz managed to escape through an open window though he broke his arm in the process. Carlton then hid and waited for other residents to try and escape.
As foreman William Weston and his 13-year-old son Ernest ran through the door, Carlton attacked killed them with the hatchet. Two more residents, laborer Thomas Brunker and gardener David Lindblom managed to fight off Carlton but they died days later from their injuries. With everyone slaughtered, Carlton attempted suicide by swallowing hydrochloric acid but this failed to kill him.
Neighbors noticed the house burning and they attempted to put out the fire. Carlton was arrested by Iowa County Sheriff John Williams and transferred to the county jail in Dodgeville. The hydrochloric acid he had ingested badly burned his esophagus and he found it impossible to swallow food. He died of starvation in his cell 47-days after the killings.
Heartbroken over the loss of his lover, Wright buried her body at the home but did not mark the grave because he could not bear to be reminded of the tragedy. A few months after the deaths, Wright rebuilt the Taliesin almost identical to the original. Later in life he struggled with insomnia, weight loss, and temporary blindness before moving to Chicago so his sister could take care of him.
4. The Loz Feliz Mansion
The Loz Feliz mansion at 2475 Glendower Place, Los Angeles, has been one of the area’s long-standing mysteries. In 1959, Doctor Harold Perelson, who worked as a cardiologist, struck his wife with a hammer at 4.30am. He then left her to bleed to death on the floor as he entered his teenage daughter’s bedroom and struck her with hammer too.
The blow had not killed her and she woke the neighbors as she screamed, “Don’t kill me!” She managed to escape the home and call the police. Back in the house, Doctor Perelson entered the bedroom of the two youngest children and told them, “Go back to bed – this is a nightmare.” He then took an overdose of 31 sleeping pills and was dead before the ambulance arrived.
Since this terrifying incident, according to those who have dared to get close to the house, there are still Christmas presents under a tree in the living room – all of which can be seen clearly through the downstairs windows. Nobody understood why Perelson committed such an awful crime or why the house was left completely untouched.
Since 1959, the property has been under the different name of many owners – but no one has moved in. The current owner, Rudy Enriquez, inherited the mansion from his parents who bought it at auction, yet he only uses the home for storage.
Many urban explorers show an interest in the abandoned and beautiful home with neighbors irritated at the place becoming a popular spot for “goths to have picnics”. Neighbor Jude Margolis told Vice magazine last year, “The place is just an old empty house that was at one time beautiful, that is now a teardown.” When owner Rudy Enriquez, who has no children, eventually passes away it is believed the home will simply just be demolished.
3. The Glensheen Estate
In 1905, mining magnate Chester Adgate Congdon and his wife, Clara Bannister Congdon had begun building the Glensheen Historic Estate – a 39-room mansion on a 22-acre estate in Duluth, Minnesota. When Chester died in 1916 and Clara died in 1950, their daughter Elisabeth inherited the estate.
In 1932, Elisabeth had adopted two daughters, Marjorie and Jennifer. Marjorie quickly became known as the black sheep of the family after she constantly borrowed money from her mother and remarried several times. Marjorie had been diagnosed as a sociopath and spent many years in institutions.
After having seven children with her first husband, she married a man named Roger Sipe Caldwell and they constantly approached Elisabeth for a large sum of money so they could build a horse ranch. They are both pictured here below.
Then on June 27th, 1977, Elisabeth and her nurse, Velma Pietila, were found murdered. Elisabeth had been suffocated with a satin pillow from her bed and Velma had been beaten to death with a candlestick. No valuables were stolen from the home, so the motive of the killer was unknown.
Marjorie was then set to inherit $8 million from her mother’s death and just three days before the murders she had signed papers agreeing that a $2.5 million share would go to Roger. Based on the suspicious evidence, Roger was tried for the murders and convicted in 1978.
Marjorie was acquitted in 1979. Roger finally confessed to both murders on July 5th, 1983 and on May 18th, 1988, he committed suicide. In his suicide note, he claimed he was innocent of killing Elisabeth and it appeared he was pointing the blame at Marjorie.
Nowadays the University of Minnesota Duluth runs the Glensheen Estate as a historic house museum. Glensheen has a variety of tours throughout the year – for those who wish to visit the place of the actual murders.
2. 10050 Cielo Drive
10050 Cielo Drive, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California was the home of actress Sharon Tate and movie director Roman Polanski.
Then on August 8th, 1969, when Tate was just two weeks away from giving birth, Polanski called to say he was delayed in returning from a trip to London. Later in the evening, Tate dined at her favorite restaurant before inviting her friends Jay Sebring, Voytek Frykowski and Abigail Folger back to her home for the night.
Shortly after midnight, members of Charles Manson’s cult “family” broke into the home and murdered all of them. The next morning police found the bodies of Tate and Sebring stabbed to death in the living room – rope had been tied around their necks keeping them together. On the front lawn, they found the bodies of Frykowski and Folger who had also been stabbed numerous times. Tate herself had suffered 16 stab wounds – 5 of which were fatal.
Polanski returned to Los Angeles where he posed for found the words “PIG” written in Tate’s blood on the front door. After the Manson family was charged with the murders he soon moved from the home.
The friend Polanski was renting the home from, talent manager Rudolph Altobelli, moved back into the house three weeks after the murders and lived there for the next 20 years until 1989 when he sold the property for $1.6 million.
Musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails began renting the house in 1992 and built a recording studio inside. He named the studio, “Pig” after Tate’s blood on the front door and recorded the Nine Inch Nails’ EP Broken (1992) and album The Downward Spiral (1994), as well as Marilyn Manson’s debut album Portrait of an American Family (1994) there. In 1993, Reznor moved out explaining, “there was too much history in that house for me to handle.”
In 1994, the house was demolished and replaced with a new mansion called Villa Bella and an updated street address of 10066 Cielo Drive.
1. The Amityville Horror House
On the night of November 13th, 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. shot his parents, two brothers and two sisters with a .35 caliber rifle, all whilst they slept in their own beds at the 6-bedroomed 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, Long Island.
Above is the DeFeo children (back row, left to right): John, Allison, Marc. (Front row): Dawn, Ronald, Jr. Their parents Ronald and Louise are not pictured. After the killings, DeFeo Jr.’s defense attorney tried to gain an insanity plea and helped DeFeo testify that he heard voices telling him to murder his family. Little did they know that this fabrication of the truth would result in one of the most well-known murder stories ever told – The Amityville Horror.
13 months after the DeFeo family were murdered, George and Kathleen Lutz bought the house for a bargain at $80,000 for them and their three children. Much of the DeFeo family’s furniture was still in the house and had also been included as part of the deal.
A friend of George Lutz told the family about the history of the house and insisted they have it blessed. On the day they moved in Father Mancuso, a local priest, arrived to bless the house but when he flicked the holy water he heard a masculine voice demand “Get out” and he fled from the house.
During the time they lived in the house the following incidents occurred: George woke at around 3am every morning and would sleepwalk to the boathouse – it is estimated this was the time of day the DeFeo murders took place. The house was constantly plagued with a swarm of flies.
Their five-year-old daughter, Missy, had made an imaginary friend called Jodie. Then on one day, George even witnessed the imaginary “stood behind Missy” and in the living room a crucifix revolved on the wall until it was completely upside down.
On January 14th, 1976 George and Kathy Lutz fled with their three children and their dog Harry, leaving all their possessions behind.