There are numerous stories of terrible kidnappings and the horrors faced by people held hostage by deranged villains.

But few can match the bizarre and terrifying story of Blanche Monnier.

A French woman imprisoned in her home by the people she probably trusted the most. Her family.

This horrendous tale occurred in the respectable town of Poitiers, in Vienne, France.

And weaves its sordid web round a young French socialite and her awful family.

It has been retold in countless forms. There is even a book about it.

However, here are ten grim facts about Blanche Monnier’s barbaric sequestration.

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10 She Was Imprisoned For Love

Blanche Monnier was the second child and only daughter of a conservative yet wealthy family. A young lady famed for her beauty; she was what you’d call the “belle of the ball.”

Because she was so pretty, Blanche had an array of suitors vying for her hand in marriage. However, none piqued her interest.

In 1874, Blanche announced to her family that she intended to marry an older lawyer who lived near their home. Her mother (Madame Monnier), who had become the head of the family after her husband’s death, expressly forbade her to marry the “penniless” attorney.

She demanded that Blanche break up with the lawyer. Blanche refused. So, with the help of her son, Blanche’s brother, she locked her up in the attic. That room would be Blanche’s prison for 25 years, even after her lover died in 1885.

9 She Was Saved By An Anonymous Letter

In 1901, an anonymous letter was mailed to the Poitier police station. The letter stated that a young woman was being held captive in the Monnier house at 21 Rue de la Visitation.

The police had not heard any reports like this from the neighbors and were skeptical, but they sent a group to investigate.

They knocked on the door of the Monnier house, yet no one came to the door. However, they heard movement within and spotted Madame Monnier furtively peeking through the curtains. 

So, they barged in, searched the house, and found their way up the attic. There they saw a most gruesome sight.



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8 She Was Covered In Her Filth For 25 Years

The police found Blanche, now 50 years old, crouching on a rotten straw bed in the darkroom. She was naked. And her bones showed painfully through her skin, implying that she was rarely fed. 

The room was rank. About her desiccated body were scraps of rotten food, fish bones, oyster shells, and disgusting bugs. These, alongside her feces, formed a revolting mass around her.

The room smelled so badly that the police were reluctant to enter. The windows had to be removed from their hinges to dispel the smell. Blanche shied away from the sun that had been denied her for 25 years.

7 Blanche's Brother Never Left

After the police had taken Blanche to the Hotel-Dieu hospital to be cared for, they arrested her family. The police found Madame Monnier calmly sitting in her living room. She was unfazed.

Surprisingly, they also found Blanche’s brother (Marcel), now well into his 50’s, staying in the house. It was speculated that the mother had manipulated him too and made him unable to live his own life. After all, she controlled all the family’s finances.

6 Marcel Turned On Her

You would think that Marcel would be ready to squeal on his mum by then, but no. Instead, Marcel turned on his sister in court. He alleged that she was full of rage and “overly excitable.”

That she chose incarceration instead of ending her love affair, so they determined that she was deranged. And that was why they shut her up in the attic.

To support his argument that she was mentally ill before they imprisoned her, he said that she never struggled or tried to leave through the attic window. She had given up.

5 His Testimony Was Rejected

Marcel’s argument didn’t hold water. The police argued that she was not violent when they found her. There were even sentences scrawled on the attic wall that indicated she was with her mental faculties when she was locked up.

Also, she had not shown any violence towards the nurses and doctors and was even grateful for the bath they gave her. She couldn’t have left the house either; she weighed 55 pounds (roughly 25 kg) and was too weak to move.

4 Her Family Didn't Serve Any Time

The court found Blanche’s mother and brother guilty. But Madame Monnier died before she could serve her jail time. She died 15 days after her arrest. On the other hand, Marcel was sentenced to a year in jail.

However, being an ingenious lawyer, Marcel appealed and argued his way to freedom. The appeal court ruled that there was no “duty to rescue someone you didn’t imprison” rule in that time’s penal code. And Marcel was set free.

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3 Blanche Lost Her Mind

Even though she had regained her freedom, Blanche lost something else. Her mind. Yes, the right doctors and nurses at Hotel-Dieu had nursed her to health, and she had added a few pounds.

But Blanche was still far from okay, mentally. She also suffered from eating disorders and several mental illnesses. She was later transferred to a sanitarium and died in 1913.

2 It Was Normal To Confine People Then

People have often wondered why it took so long to rescue Blanche and why the neighbors did nothing.

When Blanche went missing from the social circles, her mother spread the story that she was mentally ill and was being taken care of. At that age, family members could confine mentally ill relatives under lock and key.

So, the neighbors didn’t bat an eyelid. And probably attribute her screams to her deteriorating mental state.

1 The Letter Writer Is Still Unknown

No one has any idea of who wrote the letter that tipped off the police. No one has come forward.

But there are suggestions that the anonymous writer may have been a soldier or suitor courting one of the maids that served in the Monnier house. Some also speculate that it may have been Marcel himself who sent the letter. 

However, we may never know who that good Samaritan was. All we know is that Blanche was robbed of her youth and her mind by her blood relatives.

And this is one of many other stories of abused women because they wanted to make their own life choices. And that some of these tales, much like their victims, have never seen the light of day.

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