Category: Archive

Signs of a bayou crime

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Larrieu has been waging a one-man campaign for more than 25 years to reclaim land in New Orleans he says was stolen from his family.
But beyond mere theft, Larrieu is now pointing a finger and crying murder.
Larrieu tells a dark tale of the bayou that stretches back into the middle of the 19th century and the arrival in New Orleans of his great-grandmother, Mary Clarke.
Clarke was from Galway, and like so many single Irish women of her time she took her chances with the stormy Atlantic and the new continent by striking out alone at some point in the 1860s. Her gamble paid off when she met and married a man named August Larrieu.
Mary and August had four children and the family made itself financially comfortable by means of a thriving dairy business spread over large area of fertile delta soil.
That soil is now covered by the asphalt and concrete of the vastly expanded, though lately wounded, city of New Orleans.
According to Lloyd Patrick, or Patrick as he generally goes by, part of the old family estate also covers City Park, a 1,500-acre botanical oasis in the heart of the city’s downtown area.
Mary’s idyllic life was shattered in 1890 when her husband died. Certain matters surrounding August’s death remain a matter of some controversy as far as Patrick is concerned. One is a document purporting to be August’s will.
Larrieu is certain that the document was a forgery, part of a plan by what he calls “nefarious cabal” of New Orleans hustlers to relieve a now rich Irish widow of her considerable inheritance.
As Larrieu tells it, the force arrayed against Mary Larrieu and her family was overwhelming. The young Irish woman, who had married well and prospered, was to die penniless in 1938.
The saga didn’t end with Mary Larrieu’s death, however. According to Patrick Larrieu, her children’s claims on the family estate were also dissected and destroyed in the following years.
For example, a judgment of possession, which followed the death of Mary’s daughter Marie under mysterious circumstances in June 20, 1956, was, he said, deliberately held back from the family.
Larrieu managed to get his hands of the document some years ago when his quest was in its early stage. The murky circumstances surrounding Great-aunt Marie’s death, Larrieu said, center on incomplete burial records and two different descriptions of her in hospital records.
Now he has unearthed something new, and in his view absolutely shocking.
It’s an interment certificate for Marie, who was supposedly buried in Metairie Cemetery, a New Orleans landmark.
The certificate states that “No box” lies in the plot where Marie is supposedly buried.
“There was no coffin, no box, no body,” Larrieu said.
“The certificate is a fraudulent document about a false burial. Marie was murdered; I have no doubt about it. But where did her killers put the body?”
And there’s more to the mystery.
Oddly enough, indeed very oddly, Mary’s son and Larrieu’s grandfather, also August Larrieu, passed away on that very same date as Marie died.
Grandpa Larrieu suffered serious injuries after apparently falling down the steps in front of St. Jude’s Catholic Church in New Orleans. His grandson reckons he was pushed.
More than that, he believes that when his grandfather declined to die quickly enough from his injuries, he was slipped a little helper as he lay on his hospital bed.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese