Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sausage Man/Hans Muller House - New Orleans, LA (Where's the Beef?)

725 Ursuline St.
New Orleans, LA 70116

            New Orleans has always been so steeped with lore and legend, it is no wonder it is so haunted. As with any outlandish tales, people elaborate upon these legends, often sensationalizing them until they become more fiction than fact. The grizzly stories that make up the haunted history of New Orleans are no exception. So far, we have learned about sadistic sultans, torturous madams, Voodoo priestess and hypnotizing dentists. Although these stories have been verified as fact, we will never know if they happened exactly as reported or were they slightly embellished upon to sound just a tad bit creepier.
            One of these last popular tales that we will cover in the great city of New Orleans is one of those last stops I took on that infamous haunted history tour as a teenager. The Sausage Man House, as it is commonly named is not a bath house for well-endowed men, as the title may suggest. A small private residence on Ursuline Street, I first read of this insane story in the 1940’s book Gumbo Ya-Ya. I know I’ve mentioned this book several times but I highly recommend that you read it. Being written in the forties, it is told in a tome that books are no longer written in and it truly is unique. As I have said, this story has been told for years and there are different variants so I will stick with the most widely told version. Who knows, this story may very well be completely fictitious, but I felt I had to include it. It would be futile to try and compile such a large collection of haunted New Orleans stories and not include the famed Sausage Man House.

             The story behind this “maison a’la pork by-product” seems to be taken straight from a page of Ed Gein, infamous cannibalistic serial killer during the 1950’s. In the mid to late 1800’s, the small home on Ursuline Street once served as a butcher shop and residence for a young German couple, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Muller. The couple specialized in different types of sausages, presumably
Photo of the home sometime in the 1930's.
bratwurst and bierwurst, due to their German heritage. As all of us who have been married can attest, when things are good, they are great. However, as the old saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Things were getting a little rocky between the Mullers yet instead of making amends or parting ways, things just got worse.

             It seems as though the seven year itch was hitting old Hans, as he was beginning to get tired of his wife in more ways than one. Other than her constant nagging, her appearance was getting tiresome and Hans was ready to trade in his lemon for a newer model, if you catch my drift! Before the days of a quick divorce, you were pretty much stuck with what you had “until death do you part!” Apparently, Hans took that one phrase just a little too literal. One night, as Mrs. Muller was sweeping up to close the shop for the night, Hans snuck behind her and strangled her to death! One thing about the French Quarter is that it looks pretty much the same as it did in the 1800’s. Buildings were built one on top of another and trees and secluded areas are pretty scarce. It makes it quite difficult to do certain inconspicuous tasks such as hiding a dead body.  Hans knew this and no matter where he tried to dispose the body, he knew it would only be a matter of time before it would be discovered.
             Little did Hans know that the solution to his big problem was right under his nose the whole time. In a complete act of desperation and brutality, Hans quartered his wife and began grinding up her body, just as he regularly did beef, pork and venison. From here on, the story strays in various directions. Some say he disposed of the ground meat while others say he was more the thrifty type, strongly believing in the whole “waste not, want not” concept. Legends tell that Hans began using his wife’s remains as the secret ingredient to his sausage. I can only imagine what his neighbors were
Photo of the home in 1964.
thinking when beef carcasses were never coming in to the shop, yet there was always a steady supply of sausage being sold.

            Whatever the case may be, Hans said to be slowly going mad. While some say his own personal demons began attacking him for the terrible act that he did, others report that the ghost of his wife began haunting him on a regular basis. Locals began noticing the absence of his wife yet every time her whereabouts were questioned, Hans would simply say she was ill or out of town. This excuse was only good for so long as the local community began to get suspicious. As the suspicions and rumors grew, so did the butcher’s paranoia and hauntings.
             Apparently, the meat grinder was a pretty tough piece of machinery, as it was able to grind up bone and cartilage but Hans forgot one important item that the grinder wasn’t quite tough enough to handle. In an incident that seems a little too ironic to be coincidental, a local woman bit down on a piece of sausage and noticed something hard. As she spit her bite out, she noticed it was not a piece of bone but a gold ring. In a fit of hysteria, she ran to the police who kicked down the butcher shop’s door to find Hans huddled in the corner, on the edge of going insane. It seems as though Mrs. Muller was continuously haunting Hans and possibly her ring was purposely added to the sausage as her way to get revenge on her murderous husband. Hans was immediately arrested and convicted of murder, however due to the incredibleness of the act, he was placed in an insane asylum where he would later commit suicide.    
            The home has since become a private residence and has passed through many different hands. Former residents claim that the hauntings have not resided, as the mangled apparition of Mrs. Muller has been seen roaming through the home. I have always found this to be one of the most interesting and dark stories to have come out of the annals of dark French Quarter history. I’m sure all married men at one point or another have been fed up with their wives and may secretly wish to give the old “fist bump” to Hans but in the civilized world we live in, we have divorce attorneys to turn to instead of a meat grinder. Again, if these blogs were to have had catchy names, the best one I could have come up with is none other than “Where’s the Beef?”

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