The Papin Sisters – The killer menace that shook France

In the northwest of France is Le Mans, a town known for the famous car race held here once a year, “The 24-Hour Le Mans Race”. But if you look at the Wikipedia article about Le Mans, in the section with notable people, you will find an interesting mention on the seventh position on the list: Papin sisters.

Among 20 distinguished aristocrats, priests and famous musicians are the names of Christine and Lea Papin. The Papin sisters offered the city an infamous celebrity, which would have been difficult to obtain under other conditions.

The Papin sisters are not known for any extraordinary achievement. They are famous because they have, in a terrible way, killed their employer and her daughter in 1933.

Here’s their story.


The Papin family


Lea and Christine Papin were quiet households in Le Mans, France


The Papin Sisters came from a troubled family in Le Mans. Their mother was Clemence Derre, and their father was Gustave Papin. Although there were rumors that Clemence had an affair with her boss, Gustave loved her.

In October 1901, when Clemence got pregnant, Gustave married her. Emilia Papin was born in February 1902.

But Gustave always wondered if Clemence continued his adventure. He decided to look for a job in another city to take Clemence away from Le Mans.

About two years after Emilia was born, Gustave told his wife that he would take a new job in another city. Clemence threatened to commit suicide if he had to leave Le Mans and this reinforced Gustave’s suspicion that his wife had an adventure indeed.

After Clemence came in, the two moved and started a new life. Their relationship became more and more volatile.

Reports say that Clemence did not show any affection for her children and husband and that she was an unstable person. That’s why Gustave started drinking.

When Emilia was 9 or 10, Clemence sent her to the Catholic orphanage Bon Pasteur. Later, there was information that her father had violated her.

Emilia Papin joined the monastery that owned the orphanage and became a nun.Clemence had still had two other children she and her husband sent from an early age to an orphanage.


The Papin Sisters


Christine was a difficult kid. She was born in 1905 and was the middle child of the family.Soon after she was born, her parents gave her to the sister of Gustave, who was glad to have her in the house.

Christine stayed with her aunt for seven years, after which she entered a Catholic orphanage. Although Christine wanted to enter the monastery, her mother did not allow her and later hired her.

Christine had an average intelligence and a stronger and more open personality than Leah.Her employers reported that she could sometimes become insolent, but she worked hard and was a good cook.

Lea was the shy one. Born in 1911, she was the youngest of the three girls. The evaluations indicate that Lea had a slightly lower intelligence than her sister and was introverted, silent, and obedient.

From childhood, Lea had grown up to her mother’s brother until he died and then stayed in a Catholic orphanage until he was 15 years old.


House Lancelin in Bruyere, number 6


Christine and Lea Papin were now well suited to work. In 1926, they were lucky to receive both jobs in Le Mans in the Lancelin family home.

The House in Bruyere Street, Le Mans, where Papin sisters committed horrible crime. Photo: Google Streetview capture


This was where retired lawyer Lancelin, his wife, Leonie, and their adult daughter Genevieve lived. Christine was a family cook, while Lea was cleaning the house.

Most reports say the Papin sisters were model girls and housewives. Every Sunday they dressed nicely and went to the church and were reputed to work hard and to have the right behavior.

Being rather unrelated, the Papin sisters preferred the company they held for each other.Every day they had a break two hours after lunch.

But instead of coming out to enjoy the light of day, they stayed in their bedroom. In 1933, Papin sisters were in the Lancelin house for six years.

Christine was 27 years old and Lea was 21 years old. On February 2 of that year, Mrs. Lancelin and her daughter arrived at the innings at around five and a half, when the home was largely sunk in the dark.

It was for the second time in a week when the iron that worked badly caused the burning of the electric fuse while Christine was wearing his clothes. It is strange that the iron had just been taken that day from the person who had repaired him and who said he had no defect.

When Christine told Mrs. Lancelin that the iron had broken again, the lady became angry and a quarrel broke out. Of course, there were still some difficulties in the past.

Ms Lancelin always insists that household chores be well done. She used to put her white gloves and check if the dust had been well wiped out, regularly commenting on how Christine was cooking and compelling Lea to clean it again when she discovered that she had not cleaned a portion of the house.

But this time, things have taken another turn.


The crime of the century


Photo of the crime scene committed by Papin sisters


Christine lost her temper. At the end of the stairs leading to the first floor, Christine jumped Genevieve and took her eyes with her fingers.

Lea quickly joined the fight and picked up Mrs. Lancelin. Christine told her to take her eyes off the lady, then ran into the kitchen to take a knife and a hammer.

He stepped back the stairs that the others were still struggling with and knocked their mother and daughter. The Papin sisters used a tin pot on a table in the head of the stairs to hit the Lancelin women in their head.

Experts estimate the incident lasted about 30 minutes. The end result was that the housekeepers killed both women violently.

Mr. Lancelin and his son-in-law arrived home from 18:30 to 19:00. The door was locked in, and the two men could not enter, though they knew someone had to be home.

The house was submerged in the dark, except for a fading glimpse of the floor. Everything seemed very suspicious, so the two went to the police to ask for help.



A publication has dubbed the two sisters “angry sheep”


Once they entered the house, the cops climbed the stairs and discovered the macabre scene. Most injuries were at the victims’ heads and faces.

Still, there were traces of deep knife cuts on her legs and buttocks. Both women were unrecognizable because their faces had been completely destroyed.

The teeth were scattered through the room, and one of Genevieve’s eyes was on the step at the end of the stairs. Later, the investigators found the other eye under her body.

Mrs. Lancelin’s both eyes were in the scarf at her neck. Her body was stretched out on her back, with her legs open and one shoe left on one of them.

Genevieve’s body lay face down. Next to her right thigh was a bloody kitchen knife with a dark handle.

The whole scene was covered with blood. The blood had also reached the walls two meters above the corpses.

After the cops discovered the bodies, they searched for the rest of the house. In their minds, they wondered if the murderer had done the same thing to the two sisters Papin.

But when the investigators arrived at the house, the door was locked. A locksmith came to open the door, and when the cops opened it, they found the two girls in bed with their robe on them (some sources say they were naked).

On a chair beside the bed is the bloody hammer, with hair attached to it. The cops asked them what had happened and the two sisters immediately confessed to the crime.


According to Frederic Chauvaud, the author of the Terrible Crime Paper byPapin Sisters , the investigators found the victims with the raised skirts and the lingerie pulled down.

At that time in France, it would have been inappropriate to take pictures of genital organs exposed, so investigators (maybe even journalists) pulled back the skirts of the victims before the police finished the investigation.


Arrest and trial


Photos of the arrest after the arrest


The cops arrested their sisters and took them in custody. Christine became anxious and made some desperate crises when she was separated from her sister.

Finally, the authorities allowed the sisters to meet. Reports say that Christine spoke and behaved in a way that suggested that they had sex.

The tribunal named three doctors to psychologically assess their sisters to determine whether they were normal or not. Christine showed indifference to the world and indicated that she felt no attachment to anyone except Leah.

The doctors said that Christine’s affection was of family devotion and did not detect any trace of sexual content. On the other hand, Lea looked at Christine as a native figure.

The evaluation determined that the two did not suffer from pathological mental disorders.The doctors said the girls were normal and that their unusually close link made both of them act together and they were both as guilty of murder.

At trial, the jurors needed only 40 minutes to deliberate. Of course, they declared their two sisters guilty. Lea received a 10-year prison sentence.

Christine was supposed to be guilty, but the sentence was turned into jail for life.


Why did their sisters kill their employers?


The double brutal murder has enraged the city and shook France. The audience had never seen such brutality. Many have begun to wonder why two girls (who, according to the accounts, were good and well treated) could have hated so deep that they committed these crimes.

The murders were pretty funny anyway, but the removal of the eyes with their fingers was an act of animal wilderness. Psychotherapists, philosophers, writers and others began to come up with theories.

At the 1933 trial: Lea Papin (back to the left) and Christine Papin (back to the right)


Some intellectuals were sympathetic to their faces and class struggle. They saw murder as a reflection of oppressive differences between classes.

Others said that because the girls had a good job for a family business, they were eating the same food as the family and had a generous monthly salary, there was no logical reason for such a crime.

Was it something rooted in the childhood of sisters? Some sources say they had been deprived of love and affection. But is that how it was?

They had spent the years of training away from the instability of the parental home, with family members who were supposed to have loved them. Although they had eventually had to go to a Catholic orphanage, there was no evidence that they had suffered or had not been cared for.


The third identity


At trial, a fourth doctor testified. He said the girls could not be considered normal.

The doctor proposed the theory that the relationship between the two sisters had led to the complete merging of their personalities and that Lea had lost her personality in favor of Christine’s stronger personality.

Essentially, there is no “Christine” and no “Lea”. The killer was, in fact, the merged personality of the two sisters – a third identity. Throughout the world, psychotherapists have sought a diagnosis.

“The two sisters seem to have suffered from what is called common paranoid disease. This disease occurs in small groups or couples that isolate themselves from the world.

Often, they lead an intense and introverted existence with a paranoid perception of the surrounding world. In the case of this disease, it is typical that a partner dominates the other, and Papin sisters seem to be a perfect example. “

But there was also a more sensational theory. Had Mrs Lancelin ever discovered that the sisters had an incestuous homosexual relationship?

She had seen something she did not have to see, that’s why the girls took her eyes empty-handed?


What happened to Papin sisters?


Without her sister, Christine was not well in prison. She showed madness and became depressed and desperate, eventually refusing to eat.

Prison officials have transferred it to an institution for mental illnesses. But she continued to groan until she died in May 1937.

The Pepin sisters are escorted by the police


On the other hand, Lea Papin showed exemplary behavior and was released after 8 years.In 1941 she became a free woman.

She lived with her mother in Nantes, France, under a false name and worked in the hotel business. Some reports say he died in 1982.

However, in 2000, when she was working on the film Looking for Papin Sisters, Claude Ventura claims to have found Lea alive in a French hospice.

The woman had a stroke and she was partially paralyzed and incapable of speaking. He died in 2001.


An overview


After the murders, there was a wave of thoughts, emotions and fears. The first stage was shock and indignation. Then the question arises: Why did they do it?

Then there were reflections on the overall picture. Did the sisters commit this crime because there were negative elements in society, defects in the social structure, shortcomings of Catholic orphanages, or too much oppression and persecution?

Should society be reformed in its entirety? It is not clear whether the double murder in Le Mans has resulted in any major social change.

It is, however, certain that almost a century later, the city of northwest France is still famous only for the car race organized there.

But even today, wild crime on Bruyere Street number 6 on Feb. 2, 1933 has a strong echo in this place.





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