Everyone knows that New Orleans can be a mysterious and sometimes dangerous city. While The Big Easy is known for Mardi Gras, jazz, and letting the good times roll, many violent and unexplained stories surround Crescent City’s history.
Strange occurrences in The French Quarter in the middle of the night have led to murder and mayhem for years. New Orleans has been home to some of the most violent and bizarre mysteries of the last three centuries, from serial killers to wannabe vampires and everything in between. Join us as we count down the ten weirdest and scariest mysteries to come out of New Orleans.
Related: 10 Lesser Known Murder Mysteries That Still Unsolved
10 Minnie Wallace’s husbands
At the age of sixteen, Minnie Wallace of New Orleans left home to marry James Walkup, 49, the mayor of Emporia, Kansas. They spent a happy month as husband and wife. Then Walkup was found dead from arsenic poisoning. Minnie was tried for murder in a highly publicized trial, but she was acquitted. Five years later, in 1897, she remarried. This time to Toledo millionaire John B Ketcham. Ketchem died shortly after that. Again, Minnie was investigated for murder; this time, she wasn’t even charged.
Then, during the 1919s, she had an ongoing affair with De Lancey Louderback, a railroad magnate. After a few years, Minne left him, moved to London, and married someone else. A month later, just after writing it in his will, Louderback died from drinking cyanide. Suffice it to say that Wallace left a trail of bodies in his wake. While this mystery seems to be easily solved, she was never convicted of any crime, making her husband’s murders officially unsolved.
9 The Sultan’s Mansion by LePrete
In 1836, a Grecian Revival-style mansion was built at 716 Dauphine St. in the French Quarter. The owner, a wealthy Philadelphia businessman, sold the building just three years later. Jean Baptiste LePrete purchased the house for $20,050 in 1839. However, the Civil War interrupted LePrete’s cash flow and forced him to rent the property. The tenant would be a Turkish sultan and the brother of a man of Middle Eastern descent who approached LePrete and signed the lease.
Over the next few days, a full retinue of women, servants, advisers, furniture, and art paraded through the house. And then all the locks were changed. They would party every night at the Sultan’s House until one morning, a neighbor saw blood pouring out of the house and down the steps to the sidewalk. When the police arrived, they found that everyone inside had been killed; one person was buried alive with one hand sticking out of his cool, shallow grave. It was the sultan.
The man was not actually the sultan but the sultan’s brother who escaped to New Orleans after stealing the real sultan’s women and possessions. The real sultan hired assassins to kill his brother and everyone in the house. The killer(s) were never found, and the building is still considered haunted by that night’s victims.
8 Little Ramona Brown
A 1984 house fire in Algiers, New Orleans, was the scene where three-year-old Ramona Brown was last seen. It was Mardi Gras day when the fire broke out. Six-year-old Simona Brown called the police and reported that two family members had already died in the fire. As a fire burned at what was the Brown family home, a couple pulled up in an unidentified car. They asked the children if they needed help, and little Ramona got in the vehicle and was never seen again.
Simona said she told her mother about the alleged kidnapping, but Simona was only six years old at the time and her mother had a nervous breakdown as she tried to deal with the horror of it all. Now, almost forty years later, Simona is working with investigators from NOPD and WWL-TV to find out what happened to her sister all those years ago.
7 eddie wells
Seventeen-year-old Edward “Eddie” Wells was found dead and floating in the Mississippi River in 1982. At the time, the case was being handled by Stanley Burkhardt, the NOPD child abuse investigator. Burkhardt quickly closed the case. He published the theory that Wells was murdered while selling sex to a man, although there was no corroborating evidence.
More than thirty years later, Burkhardt was exposed as a pedophile, and the NOPD is now closely examining all Burkhardt cases. While strong accusations have been leveled against Burkhardt in this case, no evidence has come to light. To this day, no one knows what happened to Eddie Wells, other than he was pulled out of the river one day and no one knows how he got there.
6 Storyville Killer
The Storyville Slayer is the name given to the unidentified killer or killers who carried out a series of homicides in the New Orleans area between 1991 and 1996. Several vital features connected these murders. The targets were primarily Afro-descendant women between the ages of 17 and 42. Most of them were strangled, although some drowned. The victims were dumped into isolated swamps and canals. Their bodies were left in the water for several weeks to several years, causing extreme decomposition and destruction of incriminating evidence.
Not surprisingly, some of the victims have never been identified. Two men, Victor Grant and Russell Ellwood, were closely investigated and Ellwood had a high-profile trial but was acquitted. As of November 2021, all of the murders, other than that of Cheryl Lewis, remain unsolved. Ellwood remains a suspect in several murders, but no charges have been filed against him.
5 margaret coon
In 1987, Margaret Coon, a wealthy Mandeville lawyer, was stabbed in the back and left for dead. She was jogging with her dog in a gated community, considered one of the safest neighborhoods in the area. Local authorities have been stumped for decades. As recently as 2021, New Orleans reporter Jed Lipinski has been taking a closer look at the case.
Coon left her home sometime after 8:30 p.m. Her body was found the next day; the faithful dog guarded his body. There were no signs of a struggle or sexual assault. He was carrying around $100,000 worth of jewelry on his body. The security officer at the community gate reported that no non-residents entered the Beau Chene community that night.
Coon prosecuted sex offenders and child molesters, and speculation points to a revenge killing. His father, Webster Coon, spent $200,000 on private investigations, trying to find out who murdered his daughter and why; he passed away in 2005. With Lipinski’s help, this cold case is still relevant in New Orleans today.
4 Jacques Saint Germain
Jacques Saint Germaine came to New Orleans from France in 1902. He claimed descent from Count Saint Germain. He was wealthy and wealthy; he spoke a dozen languages and played as many musical instruments. He was known for throwing extravagant parties and entertaining New Orleans’ most influential citizens. Despite serving up lavish culinary delights in his French Quarter mansion, he was never seen eating a single bite… of food.
One night, screams were heard coming from the St. Germain house after he brought a woman home from the bar. The woman jumped from the second story of her house and told bystanders that she had been attacked by her host, who had grabbed her and bit her neck. When police searched the St. Germain home, they found bloodstains and blood-filled wine bottles. St Germain was never seen in New Orleans again.
3 Ursuline convent murders 1978
The Ursuline Convent in the French Quarter of New Orleans has a long history of strange and frightening occurrences. The famous legend of “The Casket Girls” began the supernatural ball rolling in the early 18th century. For centuries, the nunnery has attracted visitors who investigate where rumors of vampires originated and enthralled the entire city.
In 1978, a group of Boston College students came to see for themselves. They set up a video camera across the street. They intended to film from dusk to dawn for a week to see if there was any vampire or other paranormal activity in the old convent.
The group consisted of two girls and three boys. On the third night, the three boys left the girls alone while they went for a drink. The boys found the bodies of the girls in front of the adjoining chapel shortly before dawn. They had 80% of their blood drained and they had strange bite marks on their necks. The killer was never found and the locals believe the place is haunted. The chapel has not had a Sunday mass since the murders.
2 upstairs lounge
Perhaps the deadliest attack against the LGBTQ community in history occurred on June 24, 1973, when what was then known as the UpStairs Lounge caught fire. Now known as Jiminai, 141 Chartres Street was once a popular French Quarter gay bar. “An unknown assailant started a fire using lighter fluid. About 30 people escaped, but another 30 were trapped on the second floor. The windows were covered with security bars and the fire raged for sixteen minutes before help could arrive. Twenty-eight people died during the fire; four more victims died on the way or in the hospital.”
At the time, UpStairs was one of the few safe spaces for New Orleans’ gay and lesbian population. Often referred to as the “forgotten tragedy,” the culprit or culprits behind this deadly fire were never found or brought to justice.
9 the ax man
While his reign of terror only lasted a year, New Orleans’ infamous Ax Man left a permanent mark on the city. He would carve the bottom panel of citizens’ back doors in the middle of the night, sneak into their sleeping bedrooms and attack them with an axe. He targeted couples and specifically Italians; it is believed that he had ties to the mob. His first attack occurred in May 1918, averaging one episode per month going forward.
The Ax Man sent a letter to the local newspaper on March 13, 1919. In the letter, he describes himself as a demon who can go up in smoke and kill at will, disregarding the police. He held the city hostage and demanded that everyone listen to jazz the following Tuesday night, or blood would be spilled.
While there are many theories about the Ax Man, including that he was murdered by the widow of a victim in California, official records indicate that he was never caught. The Hatchet Man has been depicted in the popular television series american horror storyand his story remains one of the most horrible crimes committed in New Orleans.
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