Blanche Monnier was born on March 1, 1849 in France. Coming from a wealthy and well-respected family in the city, she simply disappeared when she was 25 years old. The case even got a name in France: la Séquestrée de Poitiers, since Poitiers was the town where she lived.
Her parents were Charles-Emile Monnier and Louise Monnier, and were even considered a model couple in the town. Blanche also had an older brother, named Marcel and in the future a key to understanding this case.
Blanche Monnier’s Childhood
Blanche Monnier had exhibited strange behavior since she was a child, because of that, her mother often put her in a dark room as punishment. There she would stay for hours, until the punishment was over.
Her father was very fond of her, but he was also very omissive in the family relationship, and never objected against the punishments meted out by his wife.
As Blanche grew older, the fights with her mother increased. As a result, she became more isolated, and her first signs of anorexia began.
At this time she already dreamed of becoming a nun, and even went to a local convent and asked to enter the order of nuns, but was denied. The reason given was that she was too thin and looked sick, so first she would have to gain weight to look healthier.
Something was going wrong
In 1873 Blanche’s grandmother passed away, and this increased her mental deterioration. Again one of her first symptoms was anorexia. So her father calls a doctor, who diagnoses her with dementia in an early stage.
By this time Blanche already had some strong hysterical crises. Even some of the house staff were afraid to enter her room.
One of the things she did was take off her clothes and walk around her room. Because the window stood facing the street, many people watched her. To make matters worse, her house was a path used by students to go to college, where her father was the dean.
This began to really embarrass Charles-Emile Monnier, so from a certain point on, the window began to be completely closed, and from that point on Blanche’s apparitions became more and more rare.
In 1876, Blanche, who had been having less and less contact with people, disappeared completely, and no one saw her again. When the family was asked about the matter, they gave very evasive answers.
Time went by and no one received any information about the girl. Her disappearance was forgotten, and almost nobody remembered this case, so there was no search for the girl.
Held captive for 25 years
In 1882 Blanche’s father, Charles-Emile Monnier, died. This made things much worse in the house. Louise, who was already very strict, became even more so. It was probably at this point that the carelessness with Blanche began.
Even so, the years went by and when 20 years of captivity had passed, Marie Fazy, a housekeeper and Blanche’s closest person, died. The care for Blanche, which was already minimal, practically came to an end.
An anonymous letter
In 1901, the attorney general of Poitiers received an anonymous letter describing terrible events in a house in France. The letter stated that there was a woman being held captive in terrible conditions.
Mr. Attorney General, I have the honor to inform you of an extremely serious incident.
I am talking about a woman who is locked up in Madame Monnier’s house.
Deprived of food, living in a filthy room for the last twenty-five years.Excerpt from the letter sent to the attorney general.
So that same day he sent three policemen to the address given in the letter. When they got there they talked to some employees of the house and then to Blanche’s brother Marcel, who lived in the house across the street, and Louise Monnier, her mother.
One of the policemen became suspicious of Louise’s story and asked to search the house. Louise allowed it, but on the condition that an employee of the house accompany him and also that he not enter any rooms.
Upon going up to the second floor of the house, the policemen began to smell a horrible odor coming from one of the bedrooms. They ordered them to open the door, but the maid refused, so the door was kicked in.
When they entered the room, one of the policemen fainted because the strong stench, the other two remained awake and managed to open a window to let in light, revealing Blanche’s skeletal body, which weighed approximately 55 lbs (25 kg).
She was quickly taken to a local hospital where she began receiving treatment.
Most accepted reason for the captivity
One of the reasons raised is that Blanche Monnier fell in love with a Republican lawyer named Victor Calmeil. As Blanche’s family was deeply monarchist, her family did not agree to the marriage.
While other sources claim that the approval of the marriage did not occur due to age differences between them. She was 24 years old and he was 38 years old.
Another theory, but not a widely accepted one, is that Blanche got pregnant by Victor. The baby was born, but Blanche’s mother then killed and buried the baby in her own home.
The fact is that her mother, Louise Monnier, did not accept the marriage. So she locked her up in a room in the house. At first she believed that her daughter would give up the marriage, but this never happened. So time went by and the situation got even worse.
Arrest and trial
Louise Monnier, the victim’s mother, was arrested. However she died 15 days later in jail, she suffered from heart problems. As the victim’s father was also deceased, he could not be tried, although he died a few years after the beginning of the captivity.
The only one who was brought to trial was the victim’s brother, Marcel Monnier, who lived in the house across the street where Blanche Monnier was in captivity. In the first trial he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for “complicity in acts of violence.” However, on an appeal, a month later he was acquitted.
According to the understanding of the judges, her first sentence was only 15 months because the mother had a high influence and excessive domination in family life, so her decision weighed heavily. This type of behavior was common in family life at that time.
In the second trial the defense argued that Blanche Monnier suffered from mental disorders, which was confirmed by some former employees of the house and also doctors who attended her during her adolescence, and this situation was aggravated by the death of her father and also the maid who cared for her most.
Even with his acquittal, Marcel did not have an easy life. As the case had a lot of media coverage, this generated a lot of popular indignation. He suffered a lot of humiliation from people wherever he went, so he had to move to another city.
Blanche Monnier’s life after captivity
After her release, Blanche Monnier was admitted to a mental hospital for more than ten years, where she died in 1913 at the age of 64. She recovered physically, but never psychologically.
To this day, it is not known who sent the anonymous letter.