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Papin sisters
(20th century) France

Papin sisters

Murderers

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Christine and Léa were two sisters who loved each other very much, and were involved in a deeply emotional and loving sexual relationship with each other. They worked together as maids for the Lancelin family in Le Mans, France, and on Febuary the 3rd 1933, 27 year old Christine and 21 year old Léa brutally murdered Madame Léonie Lancelin and her daughter Madmoiselle Genevive Lancelin by beating them repeatedly with a hammer, knife and a pewter pot and ripping out their eyeballs with their bare hands while they were still alive (the only time in history that this has been achieved without the aid of an instrument.) The two sisters were found huddling naked in each other's arms

The trial was sensational and the two "diabolical sisters" became notorious overnight. The sisters were two victims of society - the strain of trying to keep their relationship secret while slaving for a woman who seems to have been extremely petty and at times very cruel must have been dehumanising and humiliating. The Lancelin family didn't even speak to them, and they were treated like pieces of furniture. They also had an extremely dysfunctional and traumatic childhood - their father went to prison for raping their sister, and their mother didn't love them, handing them to relatives and then sending them to skivvy as maids while she took all their pay.

Christine appears to have suffered from some form of mental illness (probably paranoid schizophrenia, possibly bi polar) and she was very controlling and protective of her beloved little sister Léa, who appears to have been as a bit simple- shy, meek and gentle as Christine was overpowering and controlling. It must have been awful for Christine to have to try to hide her illness from her employers as it grew. When questioned in prison, Christine said that she believed that in another life she had been, or was to be her sister's husband.

Before the trial, when Christine was seperated from her beloved Léa she became profoundly depressed and increasingly insane, refusing food, hallucinating, rolling around the floor of her cell in sexual frenzies for her sister, and begging to see her sister. When they were finally reunited, she kissed her sister and removed Léa's blouse, murmering this mysterious plea "Tell me yes! Tell me yes!" Léa was led away, and after this disaster, Christine never uttered Léa's name again, claiming not to recognise her when Léa went to visit her.

The story of the sisters ends tragically. Christine was found guilty of both murders and was sentenced to the guillotine, which was then commuted to 25 years hard labour. Léa was found guilty of the murder of Madame Lancelin and was sentenced to 10 years hard labour. Christine was moved to an asylum in Rennes in 1934, where she died in 1937 of self starvation. Léa was released in 1941, and she worked as a maid for the rest of her life, all of her friends and neighbours unaware of her real identity. For a long time it was though that she had died in 1982, but a documentary tracked her down in 1999 to a hospice where she was staying under her real name after suffering a stroke which left her unable to speak or write. She died in 2000. Léa is buried in the Ciemetiere de la Bouteillerie, in Nantes, where she lived after getting out of prison.

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