The Sultan's Massacre is one of the most convoluted and notorious stories in New Orleans' history. However, since it happened so long ago, it is difficult to obtain concrete facts. The information in this particular story was obtained from a Times-Picayune article written on February 11, 1979...
During the Civil War, a wealthy creole homeowner by the name of LePrete was forced to sell his luxurious New Orleans mansion, as were many others under similar financial stress. Luckily, a buyer began to show interest as soon as the mansion was put on the market. The buyer introduced himself as an emessary of a Turkish sultan, and expressed that he had a large family in dire need of a home. LePrete was delighted that a member of the Royal family was interested in his home, and closed the deal right away.
The Sultan's "family" consited of a large harem of women, children from these women, another harem of young boys, and an army of eunuchs to protect himself and his family. During his two years in the New Orleans mansion, rumors circulated the Sultan would kidnap young women and boys and torture them into submission. Neighbors became accustomed to loud revels and the constant reek of opium coming from the mansion.
However, during the Sultan's second year of residence at the mansion, a woman who lived nearby paused at the corner of the house one morning, after realizing she heard none of the usual laughter and music coming from the mansion. As she stood listening, she noticed a drip coming from the top of the gallery. Looking closer, she realized it was blood. She ran around to the front door, and discovered blood pooled underneath.
Responding to the woman's screams, the police used a battering ram to break open the front door. The carnage that greeted them was enough to make a strong man lose his stomach. Blood was pooled in the halls, and body parts were strewn throughout the house. Not a soul was spared--the women, children and eunuchs were all murdered. Police were forced to count heads in order to get an accurate body count. The Sultan's body was found in a shallow grave behind the mansion. The police surmised that he had been buried alive, based on the amount of soil in his mouth and esophagus.
There are many theories as to who committed the largest mass murder in New Orleans' history. For years, pirates were blamed for the massacre. It is now commonly believed that the Sultan was actually not a Sultan at all, but was Prince Suleyman, the brother of a Sultan. It is probable that the Prince fled to New Orleans to escape execution when his brother was crowned Sultan, but was tracked down, nonetheless.
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