This one is out of Québec; if you live here, the odds are that you have heard of La Corriveau aka Marie-Josephte Corriveau.
She was found guilty of killing her second husband, (Louis Étienne Dodier) in 1763. Her execution, courtesy of the British ingenuity with particularly, gruesome torture; her punishment and execution methods, including hanging and the gibbet.
(http://cartiergeneral.com/oeuvres/la-corriveau Artist: Nicolas Francoeur)
For more than a month’s time, following the execution, Marie-Josephte hung in that iron cage, decaying and fed on by crows, flies and maggots. It was a grisly warning of what lay ahead for murderers, if caught.
Marie-Josephte was not taking this punishment lightly; from beyond the realm of death, it was reported that her corpse would open her eyes, which had turned blood red and would reach for passers-by through the bars.
Even after the gibbet was removed, her spirit wandered the area, scaring travellers along that stretch of road, in the community now known as Lévis.
The backstory of her conviction started with poor Louis (husband #2) being found, bludgeoned, in his barn. Initially, the head wounds were assigned to kicks to the head by a horse.
Unfortunately for his wife, Marie-Josephte (La Corriveau); rumours were already flying around town, regarding the contentious relationship that had developed between the couple and extended to include Marie’s father, Joseph Corriveau.
It is important to note that Québec was under British rule at this time. Rumours that poor Monsieur Dodier may have met with foul play, on that day, in January 1763 was enough for the British military authorities to set up an investigation into Dodier’s untimely demise.
In March of 1763, in the Ville de Québec, Marie and her father were charged with the murder of Louis Étienne Dodier. In April of 1763, the pair were found guilty. Then things get sticky…. With a death sentence looming ahead of him, Joseph turned on his daughter. He confessed that he was simply an accessory after the fact and that Marie had, in fact, dealt her husband the blows that killed him. He was released. His daughter, however, was not so fortunate.
A second trial was convened; Marie Josephte confessed that she had killed her husband by bashing him in the head, twice, while he slept. She claimed he had abused her. Marie was sentenced to hang and then her body to be put on public display on a gibbet.
She was hung on the Buttes-à-Nepveu; her body was then taken to Pointe-Lévis, chained and hung in the gibbet, at the crossroads of Lauzon and Bienville (current day, this would be approximately de l’Entente and Saint-Joseph, in Lévis. Her body, reportedly, hung there for 40 days; the neighbours began to object and the cage was taken down. The cage and Marie’s body may have been removed, but Marie hung around and is still believed to be in the area. There are reports of moans, cold spots, odours of decay and the feeling of being watched, by something malevolent.
In 1849, during the expansion operation for the cemetery for the church, St-Joseph-de-la-Pointe-Lévy, the cage was dug up, by a young work man. It was taken to the church’s cellar for storage; soon after it was stolen and sold to P.T Barnum, who had it on display at his museum, in New York. It was later acquired by the Boston Museum and put on display there, with a simple notation, “From Quebec”. Through the diligent efforts of the a Société d’histoire de Lévis, the cage was brought home, to Québec and is now part of a permanent display at the Musée de la civilisation, 85 Dalhousie Street Québec G1K 8R2