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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Horror of Reality

Halloween is just a few days away! In addition to pumpkin spice-everything and costumes, the scary stories are coming out on forum boards and comment sections.

While some pieces of creepypasta are pretty scary, some of the scariest stories are the ones based in real life.

One of the most frightening tales I encountered was the story of Blanche Monnier.

1901 photograph of Blanche, when she was discovered. Viewer discretion advised. Pic found here

According to the narrative of the day, Blanche Monnier was the daughter of a locally prominent family in Poitiers, France. Described as beautiful, she fell in love with a lawyer in town who was quite a bit older than she was. Her mother disapproved of the relationship and decided that the best way to end it would be to imprison her daughter in an upstairs bedroom until she agreed to end the relationship. Blanche would remain in that room for 25 years. She was seldom fed and due to the windows being covered and sealed, she would not see the light of day for the duration of her imprisonment. When asked about her daughter who had disappeared rather suddenly from the public view, Blanche's mother claimed that her daughter had eloped with someone else. Blanche's brother, Marcel, who was also a lawyer, gave strict orders for the servants never to tell anyone about what really happened to Blanche. As for the lawyer who started this whole ordeal? He died about ten years after Blanche's imprisonment. No one had ever bothered to tell her. She was essentially forgotten by the family.

Blanche's imprisonment would end when the Attorney General in Paris received an anonymous letter tipping him off to the existence of a woman trapped in a room and covered in filth in the Monnier family home. He sent a force down to Poitiers to investigate the claim and despite the family's obstructionist tactics, the police entered the home and discovered Blanche in her bedroom prison. Sure enough, she was very emaciated (it is said she weighed only 55 lbs), covered in filth, and the bedroom was covered in squalor. She was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment, while her brother and mother were arrested and taken to jail. To this day, no one knows who sent the letter that alerted the authorities to her plight.

The family went to trial and Marcel was sentenced to fifteen months in prison for being an accomplice. Blanche's mother, the mastermind, died suddenly after her arrest and did not stand trial. Marcel appealed his sentence, claiming that he did not harm his sister and that she could have escaped her locked prison at anytime by stating she would end her relationship with that lawyer. Incredibly, the judge agreed and threw out Marcel Monnier's prison sentence.

While one would hope for a happy ending for Blanche, her end was as tragic as her life. While she would regain her weight and physical health, she could not cope with the world around her after having been isolated for so long. Blanche died in an insane asylum, twelve years after her rescue.

Sometimes, real life is scarier than any horror story ever written.

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