La Corriveau is one of the most famous legends in the folklore of Quebec, Canada. It is the supposedly true story of a young woman who murdered all of her husbands.
Marie-Josephte Corriveau was born in 1733 in the village of Saint-Vallier in Quebec, Canada. At the age of 16, she married a farmer named Charles Bouchard and the couple had three children. They say that Marie-Josephte Corriveau was a very beautiful but very jealous young woman. After eleven years of marriage, she suspected that her husband was having an affair with one of the women in the village and vowed to get revenge.
That night, as she served her husband his supper, she confronted him and told him she knew all about his affair. He denied he was cheating on her and went off to bed. While he lay sleeping, marie stole silently into the bedroom and poured molten lead into his ear, killing him instantly.
The next morning, she went to the police and told them her husband had mysteriously died in his sleep. The coroner examined the body, but was unable to explain how a perfectly healthy man had died in his sleep. There was no reason for the police to suspect it was murder.
After the sudden death of her husband Charles, rumors began to circulate around the small village, but there was no evidence, so Marie Corriveau was free to marry again. Her second husband was a doctor and at first, Marie was happy with her new love. However, this happiness was not to last. Her husband had many female clients and Marie became convinced that he was having an affair with one of them. Filled with jealousy and rage, she decided that he had to die.
One evening, while she was preparing dinner, she poisoned his food. The poor man barely had time to enjoy his meal before the drug took effect. After the death of her husband, she put the poison in a bottle of spices. The coroner concluded that it had been an accident and the poor woman was not aware that she had unwittingly poisoned her husband.
According to the legends, Marie Corriveau may have had as many as seven husbands and she murdered them all. They say she choked her third husband to death, then tied a noose around his neck and hung him from the rafters to make it look like a suicide. Her fourth husband was beaten over the head with a log until he was unconcious. Then she threw his body into a large pot and boiled him alive. She took a pitchfork to her fifth husband, stabbing him in the belly and arranging the scene to appear as if he accidentally slipped and fell on it.
However many husbands she had, everyone agrees that her last husband was another farmer named Louis Étienne Dodier. Neighbors said that he was a very violent man and Marie soon grew tired of his beatings and decided to kill him too. After a particularly violent argument, her husband decided to sleep in the barn for the night. However, Marie was not about to let him get away that easily.
During the night, as her husband slept peacefully in the barn, she sneaked out, grabbed an axe and buried it in his skull. She didn’t stop chopping until his entire head was crushed.
Marie Corriveau was a very clever woman and, like so many times before, she tried to arrange the murder scene so that it looked like a simple accident. The evil woman began whipping the horse, which reared up and trampled her husband’s dead body.
However, this time, she was not quite clever enough. At that very moment, a neighbor happened to be calling by to visit her husband and saw Marie coming out of the barn, covered in blood. She never had time to finish her horrible work.
It suddenly became abundantly clear that Marie Corriveau had murdered all of her husbands. She was arrested and promptly put on trial. The judge convicted her of murder and sentenced her to death. They took a branding iron and burned the letter “M” into the skin of her left hand.
Then, they dragged her to the gallows and put a noose around her neck. Asked if she had any last words, Marie Corriveau screamed out, “I shall be avenged!”
After her execution, her corpse was put in an iron cage and hung from a pole at a busy crossroads near Point-levis. The authorities intended the public display as a warning to anyone else who might be tempted to try their hand at murder.
During the day, passers-by watched as crows pecked at her flesh and poked out her eyes. At night, people who passed by would often hear the squeaks of the hooks on the iron cage as her corpse swung in the breeze.
After her death, she became known simply as “La Corriveau”. They say that some people saw La Corriveau’s eyes open of their own accord and others watched in horror as her decaying hands reached out and tried to grab hold of anyone who was passing by. Travelers on the road claimed they heard her whisper their names through the tangle of stringy hair that covered her decomposing face.
Soon, no one would dare to use the road after dark, so terrified were they by the stories they had been told. There were reports of rattling bones and screams, and of passersby being attacked by an unseen being. The grass under the cage always mysteriously burned. Merchants complained that people who went to Quebec City now preferred to go by boat instead of taking the road.
One night, a man was walking home alone, when he happened to pass by the site where the cage of La Corriveau had once stood. His eye was suddenly caught by a wild, demonic figure creeping up behind him. He screamed in terror as a pair of bony, withered hands clutched his throat from behind. he could feel slimy skin and greasy hair pressing against his cheek. The man dropped to his knees and shrieked in horror as the wicked thing bent over him. He desperately began ripping and tearing at the creature’s hands, trying to break free. He felt dry flesh tearing away from La Corriveau’s bones.
The next morning, his frantic wife found him lying unconcious by the roadside and woke him with her sobs. The story of la Corriveau’s attack spread through the city and finally the authorities were forced to call in a priest to exorcise the foul spirit.
The authorities took the iron cage down and buried it deep beneath the ground, in a part of the cemetery reserved for unknown persons. If they were hoping to silence the evil woman’s ghost for good, then their hopes were in vain. Many people say that, at night, the spirit of La Corriveau would still rise from her grave and attack anyone who dared to travel along the road.
More than 80 years after La Corriveau’s death, the cage was found in a nearby cemetery. All that was left of her body was one leg bone. The cage was sold to the famous American showman, P.T. Barnum, who put it on display as a curiosity in his circus freakshow. Many people went to see the twisted and corroded cage with a placard that simply read “From Quebec.” Later, it was sold to a museum in New york, which burned down a few years afterwards.