The Papin Sisters: A Mystery or Misery?


There’s a city named Le Mans in the Northwest of France. Le Mans was the birthplace of many striking personalities, including a lot of priests, musicians and car racers. If you take a hasty glance at Wikipedias list of notable people who were born in Le Mans, you will see the names of Christen and Lea Papin. Instead of gifting pride to the city, these sisters brought a lot of disrepute to Le Mans. The Papin sisters are known for murdering their employer and her daughter in the most dreadful way.

Before getting into how they murdered the mother and daughter, I’ll run you through their family history and childhood first. The Papin sisters were born into a troubled family. Their mother, Clemence and their father, Gustave did not get along with one another. With each passing day their relationship grew more and more volatile. However Clemence gave birth to three girls; Emilia, Christine and Lea. Emilia was the oldest. Christine was the middle child and Lea was born six years after the birth of Christine which made her the youngest of the three sisters. Neither Clemence nor Gustave showed any affection towards their daughters. Rumors even surfaced that Gustave had sexually harassed his own daughter, Emilia. Emilia was ultimately sent off to an orphanage and later became a nun.

Christine’s parents gave her to her aunt as soon as she was born. Christine stayed with her aunt for about seven years before she joined an orphanage. Lea stayed with her uncle until he died, and she too had to face the same fate as her sister and joined an orphanage later. As they grew up, both Christine and Lea were placed into employment. They landed a job together as live-in house maids for the Lancelin family. Their employees reported that Christine was undoubtedly a hard worker but she could be contemptuous at times, while Lea was a shy introvert yet very obedient. Both of them were known to be very anti-social. During their two hour lunch break every day, they stayed in and never went out to enjoy the day. They preferred to be in each other’s company rather than someone else’s.

On February 2 of 1933, Mrs. Lancelin and her daughter arrived home to a completely dark house. When the sisters were asked about what is going on, they claimed that the malfunctioning iron had broken. Mrs. Lancelin snapped at the twins as this was happening for the second time in a week. To her surprise, Christine snapped back and tore out her daughters eyes with her fingers. Lea helped her sister and quickly grabbed Mrs. Lancelin. As ordered by Christine, Lea pulled out the eyes of the mother too. With the help of a knife, hammer and pewter pitcher, the sisters cut and sliced the mother and daughter gruesomely from head to toe.

Mr. Lancelin and his son came home to a bloodbath later that evening. The police was immediately informed about the incident. Upon the arrival of the police, the entire house was searched. Everyone wondered whether whosoever did this had done the same to the Papin sister. When the investigators reached to the sister’s room, the door was locked. After the door was forcefully opened by the cops, they saw the sisters next to the bloody hammer with hair stuck to it. The girls confessed to their crimes.

The Papin sisters were later sent off to prison where Christine died. Lea was set free after eight years because of good behavior.  3 doctors were appointed to evaluate whether the sisters were sane or not. A doctor testified that the girls could not be normal. Psychologists expressed that the murder was a reflection of their childhood and prejudice. They had been starved of love since they were born. Their personalities had been completely merged with one another. Lea had completely given in to the dominant personality of Christine. Thus, the murderer of Mrs. Lancelin and her daughter was the joint personality of Christine and Lea- a third identity.

The author is a freshman at LSE.

Sarah Zahid

First Year