Paris, France — In 1876, Blanche Monnier was a striking 25-year-old woman from a wealthy Parisian family. Life was good for the young socialite. She was in a whirlwind romance with a lawyer with whom she fell in love, and there was talk of marriage in the near future.
However, her mother didn’t approve of the relationship. She vehemently scolded Blanche for choosing a lawyer that was relatively unsuccessful . Then the mystery began — Blanche suddenly disappeared and was never seen or heard from again for the next 25 years.
Her disappearance initially sparked rumors of the wealthy well-connected family’s involvement, but this soon faded as the years passed by.
Then in 1901, the Paris Attorney General was anonymously given a letter stating:
” 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…”
Police forcefully entered the Monnier residence and demanded that the family open a padlocked door. And it was there that they found Blanche, locked in this shuttered bedroom for the last 25 years by her own mother and brother.
The excerpt below was taken from the police report:
“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 was only fed scraps from her mother’s plate and was forced to live in her own excrement and filth. She had no one to talk to except the rats that gathered in the filth of her upstairs room that was her prison. She was 49 years old when she was rescued and weighed a mere 55 pounds.
Blanche suffered irreversible emotional damage from her ordeal, and spent the remaining 12 years of her life in psychiatric care until she died in 1913.