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This common American legend, told in bars and high school locker rooms throughout the Deep South, has its roots in a documented historical incident. On Halloween evening, a group of local Cajun teens decided to take part in a "dare" to go in the local bayou and remain there from midnight to dawn. Local legend told of zombies descended from a plantation family that roamed the swamp, and who devoured or reanimated any people who were unlucky to come across them. By noon the following day, none of the youths had returned to the town. A search party was formed to comb the swamp to try to find them. The party was attacked by at least thirty zombies, which included the unfortunate teenagers, and retreated, unwittingly leading the ghouls back to Vitre. While townsfolk barricaded themselves in their homes, one local, Henri De La Croix, had the idea that splashing the undead with molasses would bring millions of insects to eat them. De La Croix's plan failed, and he barely escaped with his life. The townspeople decided to try to burn the zombies instead, so they splashed them with kerosene and set them on fire. While more effective than De La Croix's idea, the burning undead set fire to everything they touched. Some of the townspeople, trapped in their buildings died in the fires while the others fled into the swamp. A few days afterwards, a rescue party discovered that the town had completely burned to the ground, and that there were fifty-eight survivors out of a population of 114. Figures vary as to the number of undead versus human casualties. When casualties from Vitre's population were added to the amount of zombie corpses found, at least fifteen bodies were unaccounted for. Official government records in Baton Rouge explain the attack as “riotous behavior from the Negro population,” a pecular explanation because Vitre's population was totally white. Any proof of a zombie outbreak comes from private letters and diaries that exist among the survivors’ descendants.

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