Apr 11, 2015


Below is not a still from any horror movie, but an actual photograph of a woman who was held captive in her room for 25 years.

Mademoiselle Blanche fell in love with a lawyer (who wasn’t very wealthy) and her mother did not approve. Her mother decided to trap her in a room upstairs. The police got an anonymous letter which led them to Blanche.

Police arrived at the home, forced open the door, and found an emaciated Blanche Monnier lying in a pool of feces and food debris on a bed in an upstairs room. Her head hidden under the covers, the 49-year-old woman, who now weighed a mere 55 pounds, was naked, scared and deranged. She hadn’t seen the sun in 24 years. A witness to the event described how Blanche was discovered:

"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."

Blanche’s mother, Madame Monnier Demarconnay, was arrested the next day and imprisoned at around six o’clock in the evening. Despite the precautions of the police, a surging crowd gathered at the prison with shouts of hatred and revenge. Madame Monnier Demarconnay was immediately placed in the infirmary (she suffered from heart disease) 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. They recalled that she cried out, “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 showed their approval, screaming and shouting hostile threats at the convicted man. Marcel immediately 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 Blois psychiatric hospital in 1913, 12 years after she was discovered captive in her room.

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