Gruesome New Orleans ghost story of Hans Mueller, aka The Sausage Man, and the ghost in his sausage shop that drove him mad – for good reason!

Listen to storyteller Kodac Harrison narrate “The Sausage Ghost”

If there’s one thing New Orleans is famous for besides jazz and gumbo, it’s ghost stories. Why, it’s almost a matter of public shame if you own an old building that doesn’t have a ghost or two lurking about. And the more gruesome the tale, the better.

But this story is one of the most gruesome of them all. And the scary thing is – some folks say it actually happened.

Back in the 1800s, a young German couple, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Mueller, opened a sausage factory in New Orleans. They were well respected for being hard workers and very pleasant sort of people. They’d greet everyone with a smile, and happily called out their regular customers’ names as they walked through the door. On top of that, they made some of the most delicious pork sausage you ever put in your mouth.

But of course, like a lot of other marriages, there was darkness lurking behind the public smiles and affection. Behind closed doors, Hans Mueller was getting a bit tired of his wife. In his eyes, all their hard work had made her old and wrinkled before her time. It wasn’t long before he found a young mistress and eventually fell in love with her.

And he knew he could never have a life with his new lover as long as his wife was around.

Old houses on Ursulines Street at time of Hans Mueller, Sausage Man ghost story, 1890, New Orleans, Louisiana
Ursulines Avenue (Street) at time of Hans Mueller Sausage Man ghost story. 1890, New Orleans, LA.

So one night after the shop closed, the man crept up behind his wife as she swept the floor, wrapped a cord around her neck, and strangled her. She was a strong woman, and put up quite a fight, but her husband was stronger. As he pulled the cord tighter and tighter around her throat, he could feel her body collapse until she finally fell dead onto the dirty floor. The husband gazed down at her body and smiled – at last, he thought, I’m free!

Now if you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know it’s awfully hard to conceal a murder down there. Because there’s so little land space, all the houses are built right up against one another. So you become very aware of what your neighbors are up to.

But the sausage maker had a gruesome plan. With great effort, Hans Mueller lifted his wife’s body off the floor – and stuck her headfirst into the sausage grinder!

As the days passed, the man reveled in his happy new life with his mistress. But he continued to keep their relationship a secret so he wouldn’t raise any suspicion. Whenever customers walked into his shop and asked where his wife was, he’d say she was ill, or she was visiting relatives out of town. Nobody thought twice about it, and life went on as normal.

But shameful secrets have a way of creeping up on people eventually. And the longer the wife stayed missing, the more the neighbors began to whisper that something was wrong. The sausage maker’s appearance had become unkempt and haggard, his eyes tired and bloodshot. What’s more, the quality of his meats had deteriorated. Some customers had even bit into bits of hair and torn fabric in their breakfast sausage.

Late one evening, the sausage man was cleaning the front of the shop, trying desperately to think of a new excuse for his wife’s prolonged absence. Suddenly, he heard a strange thumping noise coming from the back room. It sounded to him like somebody was grinding sausages. He ran into the back – and what he saw next froze him in his tracks.

Climbing out of the sausage vat was his dead wife. Her shop apron was covered in blood, and her head was horribly mutilated. She walked slowly toward her husband, arms outstretched, her agonizing moans filling the room. Hans Mueller ran out into the street in a panic, screaming loudly. One by one, his neighbors rushed out of their homes and asked what was wrong. Gathering himself, he claimed to have had a bad dream, and thanked them for their concern.

Night after night, the hauntings continued, and the neighbors became more and more suspicious. Dark rumors spread that the man had murdered his wife – but where was her body? The answer came one day when a customer bit into a piece of a gold wedding ring in her sausage. She informed the police, who raided the sausage factory that evening.

Ursulines Street Row Houses near Hans Mueller shop, Sausage Man ghost story, Ursulines Street, 1936
Ursulines Avenue (Street) near Hans Mueller butcher shop, 1939, New Orleans, LA.

As they busted into the back room, they found the sausage maker huddled in a corner, screaming uncontrollably like a maniac. He pointed a shaking finger at the sausage grinder and cried out that his wife was coming to get him. The police grabbed him and promptly locked him up in the nearest insane asylum.

But the asylum provided no safe haven for the sausage man. He screamed day and night that his wife’s ghost had entered the room, and was coming to get him. He eventually had a complete mental breakdown, and committed suicide.

During the time Hans Mueller was locked up, the factory was sold to another man, who claimed the ghost of the sausage maker’s wife continued to haunt the building. Immediately after her husband’s suicide, the hauntings stopped, and the ghost was never seen again.

Nowadays, you might find a longtime New Orleans resident whose ancestor was one of the unlucky ones who ate the tainted sausage that year. Needless to say, that’s one of those deep, dark secrets that’s probably best taken to the grave.


Where Did “The Sausage Ghost” Come From?

“The Sausage Ghost” is based on a sensational New Orleans crime story that has been passed around for years. The story has appeared in many forms, most notably in Gumbo Ya-Ya, a collection of Louisiana tales from the oral tradition, compiled by the Louisiana Writers Program of the Work Projects Administration in the 1930s. In this important collection, the story “The Ghost Who Walked the Sausage Factory,” identified the German couple as Mr. and Mrs. Hans Muller.

Most people agree Mrs. Muller’s ghost stopped haunting the sausage factory after her husband’s suicide. The factory no longer exists, but some people claim her ghost still haunts the old Muller residence at 725 Ursulines Avenue (Google Maps).

But like other Southern stories, “The Sausage Ghost” also has its roots in world folklore. There are numerous European tales about children, adults or pets disappearing in a neighborhood occupied by a mad butcher. Some of these stories are light hearted, others gruesome. There was also a famous folk song written in 1894 called “Dunderbeck.”

Ursulines Avenue near Hans Mueller shop, Sausage Man ghost story, French Quarter, New Orleans, 2009
Ursulines Avenue in 2009 near Hans Mueller home. New Orleans, LA.

If you’d like to sing along – the chorus is the same tune as the Georgia Tech fight song, “I’m a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech”:

“Oh Mr. Dunderbeck, how could you be so mean?
I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbor’s cats and dogs will nevermore be seen,
They’ve all been ground to sausages in Dunderbeck’s machine.”

“There was a man from my hometown
His name was Dunderbeck,
He sold a lot of sausages
And sauerkraut by heck.
He made the greatest sausages,
That ever had been seen,
Until one day he invented a sausage-making machine.”

“Oh Mr. Dunderbeck, how could you be so mean?
I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbor’s cats and dogs will nevermore be seen,
They’ve all been ground to sausages in Dunderbeck’s machine.”

“One day a very little girl came walking in the store,
She bought a pound of sausages and laid them on the floor.
Then she began to whistle, she whistled up a tune,
And all those little sausages went dancing round the room.”

“Oh Mr. Dunderbeck, how could you be so mean?
I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbor’s cats and dogs will nevermore be seen,
They’ve all been ground to sausages in Dunderbeck’s machine.”

“One day the machine it busted, the darn thing wouldn’t go,
So Dunderbeck, he crawled inside to see what made it so,
His wife, she had a nightmare while walking in her sleep,
She gave that crank one awful yank and Dunderbeck was meat.”

“Oh Mr. Dunderbeck, how could you be so mean?
I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbor’s cats and dogs will nevermore be seen,
They’ve all been ground to sausages in Dunderbeck’s machine.”

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Andrea

    Are there more untold stories or stories of locals…… I want more I have bought so many books since my two visits and their mostly the same 5 stories

  2. liz

    I remember reading an alternate version from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book 2; More Scary Stories in elementary school. This takes the cake though. I remember a version of this story where the mistress found out about the murder thru a rumor and left the guy.

    Still a creepy story by the way

  3. I love those! I went on a trip to NOLA in november and I REALLY wanetd to find some good street art, but we were only there for 2 days (and one day was a wedding)…we didn’t get to make it much past the french quarter and jackson sq 🙁 maybe next time

  4. Anna

    That. Is sick. I’ve lost my appitite just now.

  5. Meliza

    This is so disgusting!! Love it!

  6. Virginia

    I first read an alternate version of this story in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” as an elementary school student.
    Poor customers who had unknowingly consumed the dead wife’s meat. The butcher doesn’t seem very smart about getting rid of evidence of his murder (thank goodness). Also, how could he murder such a faithful helping hand who stuck with him all those years? I guess that’s also part of the reason why the quality of the meat deteriorated; he could not run everything well without his dutiful wife’s assistance. I wonder what happened to the mistress in the end.

  7. Joanna

    im never eating sausage again !! this is disgusting and gruesome

  8. Jill

    all i have to say is that the story was a litte… CREEPY!

  9. This story has been on this site for quite a while, I remember actually listening to it as a kid on an audio stream and hearing the creepy groanings. That was about ten years ago, and this is still by far my favorite story on this site. Although I’ve stopped visiting like I used to, (not a lot of free time on my hands, twenty years old now, was ten back then). I’m still looking for that one story that’ll top this one.

  10. Ronell

    I love my Hometown stories

  11. Pam Johnson

    I don’t want any sausage any time soon!