Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Papin Sisters: The Shocking Housemaids’ Crime That Shook France – Part I

Papin Sisters
Credit:neil-paton.tripod

Christine & Lea Papin – Famous for Murdering


In a location in northwest of France is a city called Le Mans known for little famous car race which tends to take place once a year – the `24 Hours of Le Mans’. However with a brief fleeting look at the entry of `Le Mans’ in Wikipedia in the section of Notable People one would perceive down in the 7th position in the midst of twenty difference aristocrats, priest together with well-known musicians, names of Christine and Lea Papin. These two sisters had gifted the city with some amount of dishonour which would then never have been achieved.

The Papin sisters instead of being famous for a splendid and promising accomplishment were famous only for murdering in the most horrific manner, their domestic employer together with her daughter in 1933. The Papin sisters belonged to a troubled family in Le Mans. Their mother was Clemence Derre and their father Gustave Papin. Though there were rumours circulating that Clemence had been having an affair with her boss, Gustave seemed to love her.

When she got pregnant in October 1901, Gustave had married Clemence and baby Emilia Papin was born in February 1902. However it kept Gustave wondering if Clemence still continued with her affair. He then decided to get a job in another town to take Clemence away from Le Mans.

Birth of Emilia


Two years after the birth of Emilia, Gustave made an announcement that he would be taking a new job in a different town. At this Clemence had threatened to commit suicide instead of leaving Le Mans. This gave rise in strengthening his suspicions that had she been having an affair. After she had come round to her senses, the couple then moved and began life afresh.

As they progressed their relationship seemed to be more volatile and according to reports Clemence showed no affection for her husband and children, becoming an unstable individual. Gustave on the other hand turned to alcohol. Clemence had sent Emilia who was 9 or 10 years old to the Bon Pasteur Catholic orphanage. Thereafter there were rumours stating that her father had raped her. Later on she had joined the convent and had become a nun.

Clemence had also given birth to two other children and both of them had been sent away at an early age by Clemence and her husband. Christine was born in 1905 being the middle child of the family seemed to be the difficult child. Immediately after her birth, her parents had handed her over to her father’s sister who had been happy to have her. She remained there with her aunt for seven years after which she went to a Catholic orphanage.

Papin Sisters

Christine - Strong Personality/Lea - Shy


Though Christine preferred joining the convent, her mother did not permit her and sometime later engaged her into service. Having an average intelligence she seemed to have a stronger personality than Lea her sister. Her employers had stated that she would be rude at times though she was a hard worker and a good cook. Lea born in 1911 on the other hand was shy and the youngest child of three girls.

She seemed to be somewhat lower intelligence than her sister and was an introvert, quiet and obedient. Lea had grown up with her mother’s brother till he died and thereafter had joined a religious orphanage till the age of 15 years. In 1926, Christine and Lea Papin being of age were fortunate to have a domestic live-in job together in the home of the Lancelin family in Le Mans. It was a home of a retired lawyer, his wife Leonie together with their adult daughter, Genevieve.

 Christine worked as the family cook and Lea cleaned the house. The Papin sisters seemed on most account good and mode housemaids and every Sunday they would dress up and attend church service. They had built up a reputation of being diligent workers with good behaviour.

The Papin Sisters – Unsocial


Being known to be quite unsocial, Christine and Lea preferred to be by themselves and everyday during their two-hour break after lunch, instead of going out to enjoy themselves, they rather preferred staying in their bedroom. The Papin sisters, by 1933 had been with the Lancelins for 6 years. Christine was 27 years while Lea was 21 years old. That year on February 2, Mrs Lancelin together with her daughter have returned home at around 5.30 to an almost dark house and it had been the second time in a week when due to malfunctioning of iron while Christine had been ironing ,had resulted in the electrical fuse to blow up. Strangely the repair man who had returned the iron that day found nothing wrong with it.

When Christine had informed Mrs Lancelin that the iron had broken down again, she became angry and an argument took place. Mrs Lancelin had been a strict employer and would often put on white gloves to check for dust, would give feedback on Christine’s cooking and make Lea redo the cleaning when she found that she had missed a spot. However this time seemed to be a different affair. It was said that Christine had snapped and being at the top of the stairs on the landing of the first floor had leaped at Genevieve tearing out her eyes with her fingers.

Brutally Slaughtered the Two Women


Lea had quickly joined in the struggle and grabbed Mrs Lancelin. Christine had ordered her to gouge out the eyes of Mrs Lancelin after which Christine ran downstairs to the kitchen to get a knife and hammer and returning back upstairs had clubbed and sliced the mother and her daughter. The sick sisters also utilised a pewter pitcher lying on a table at the top of the stairs to bash the heads of the ladies.

According to experts the incident had lasted for about 30 minutes but eventually the maids had brutally slaughtered both the women. When Mr Lancelin together with his son-in-law had returned home between 6.30 and 7.00 pm the door had been bolted from inside and they were unable to enter though they knew that someone was at home. The house had been in total darkness except for a faint light coming from the upper level of the house. This gave rise to suspicion and hence they sought the help of the police.

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