The story of Jane Toppan, a nurse who is a serial killer
Honora Kelly was born in Boston in 1857, the youngest of three girls in a poor Irish immigrant family. Her name was Honora but she was known as “Nora”. Her mother died of tuberculosis when she was one year old. Her father, Peter Kelly, was a tailor. After the death of his wife, he started drinking heavily. His excessive drinking and crazy ways earned him the nickname “Kelly the Crack”. He lived almost to the point of insanity, and it is said that on one occasion he even tried to sew his own eyelids together. In any case, those motherless girls were in great difficulty at that time. Kelly herself placed her children in an orphanage as the family and daughters were ruined by alcoholism.
Girls between the ages of 3 and 10 were looked after there. Remember that the period was 1850-60. Therefore, it was customary to send children as young as 10 years old to other rich houses as maids. Delia, the eldest, became a prostitute and drunkard. Another sister, Nellie, ended up in a mental hospital.
But before the age of 10, Nora found herself a servant in the house of a widow named Ann Toppen. Anne Toppan was a very good woman. They saw Nora as their own daughter. sent to school with their own daughter, Elizabeth. They grew up together. Ann Toppan also changed her nickname from Laura to Jane, thus becoming known as Jane Toppan, and to top it all off, she was of Italian descent. But she did not adopt Jane.
Jane is thought to have had some behavior disorders due to growing up without a mother and the trauma of being an orphan. She was not a good student in school. She spread gossip about everyone she met. She was a child who would lie if she opened her mouth. As if in her imagination, the stories flowed through the nakedness. “Sister married an English nobleman, father sailed around the world, and her brother knew Abraham Lincoln,” she blurted out. She spread bad stories about everyone she didn’t like. Children were afraid of her because of this behavior. She didn’t have a single friend during her school days.
In her youth she fell in love with a boy. He was an office worker. The engagement went on, but it did not lead to marriage and he left her and went to another city. There he married another young woman. Jane was deeply affected by it. She broke the wedding ring and threw it away. Keep your distance from everyone. He attempted suicide twice. Jane later revealed that this was the root cause of her desire to kill.
(This incident also has many similarities with Ted Bundy’s. Bundy’s murders started out of a broken love like this, but Bundy never admitted it. Bundy and Jane are similar in many ways. Both have childhoods, parents, career acumen, good looks, easy manners, and a tendency to lie. , burglary, etc., but Jane Poison was the weapon of choice when Bundy used a crow bar – a wire rod )
Ann Toppan died in 1870. After that, Elizabeth took over the management of the house. She and Jane went ahead without any problems.
Elizabeth had many admirers since school days, but Jane was a loser who couldn’t get anything she wanted. She wanted to be like Elizabeth. But it didn’t show anything. A few years later Elizabeth married a deacon named Oramel Brigham. And so she worked there until 1885, when she finally decided to make a life for herself.
At that time there were few wide employment opportunities for women and most were menial at best. Jane thought it over, so decided to go for something more job-prone, challenging, and well-paid.
In 1887, she applied to and was accepted into the nursing school at Cambridge Hospital in Boston.
She quickly made a name for herself in nursing school. Soon she earned the nickname “Jolly Jane”. But unbeknownst to her, the hands of the devil were working on her. The Jane on the outside was not the real Jane! She slandered many people. Many problems arose. She also committed theft, but no one discovered it then. At the time, she commented on terminally ill patients that “there is no point in keeping them alive.” He didn’t care then.
She became more dangerous as her studies progressed and she had a keen interest in pharmacology. That made her an expert in dealing with toxins. She first secretly administered opium to patients and studied its effects. Later it was given and a person was paralyzed to death. And she was extremely happy about it. Despite her sadistic mind, no one suspected her of impeccable talent and benevolence.
Hospital authorities noticed her penchant for autopsies. While other nurses would normally spend their time at the autopsy table like a ritual and then retreat quickly, Jayen would question the doctors in detail about the body’s internal organs and their state after they were frozen, making notes of it all. Postmortem was a charm for her. She herself later revealed that she received sexual requests from him.
She experimented by giving many patients higher doses of morphine than should be given. Some were brought back when they were close to death. She tortured the hospital staff and the patient’s relatives without paying the price of human life. No one knew at the time that he had tried morphine and atropine on his elderly patients.
More bold, she began to increase her activities. Atropine (a drug derived from belladonna) mixed with morphine produced cochlear convulsions in her patients, and death was miserable and horrible. This is because atropine dilates the pupils of the eyes while morphine shrinks them, so no symptoms would appear. These symptoms, along with other symptoms, left doctors confused as they tried to figure out what was wrong with the patients. The biological nature of poisons also helped to hide them from the analytical techniques of the time. She even used her work to enhance her own reputation; It was to bring patients to the brink of death and bring them back to health through “miraculous recovery”.
She had tampered with the medical reports of patients she was interested in. Perhaps she wanted to see from anyone struggling with death, she removed the discharge of those there, and gave them poison nets. Sometimes patients like this were given antidotes and brought back to life. What she was really doing was playing with life and reveling in it. Many patients were poisoned by her on unannounced occasions, mainly atropine. She is believed to have killed more than a dozen patients while studying.
None of these stories were understood at the time, so after completing her studies, she found a post at the prestigious Massachusetts General Hospital.
Soon she had enough knowledge on the job and got promoted quickly. But sometimes her medical records were discovered to be falsified. But no one saw it as a serious problem. She poisoned many people during that period itself. At least some survived. She later admitted that she got sexual excitement from being in bed with her patients as they murdered them.
Amelia Finney was one such person. Jane had given her a fatal dose. Jane sat by Amelie’s bed, trembling. He caressed her, told her that everything would be fine soon, lay in bed with her, and then kissed her on the face. She suddenly became upset. Somehow she was overwhelmed. Jane didn’t get to kill Finny because she didn’t get much of a chance. The next morning Amelia thought it was all a feverish dream. But when Jane’s stories came out later, Amelia realized what really happened.
It was her instinct to take credit for what others were doing. Psychopaths have no conscience or compassion. That’s why her fellow nurses hated her when they realized her bad side. At the same time she was loved by doctors. It was because the subject was known.
However, after passing the exam in 1890, she was fired before she could obtain an official license after being suspected of embezzling small sums of money from colleagues and patients and stealing a nurse’s diamond ring.
She worked as a private nurse for a short period, but Jane decided to return to Cambridge Hospital to regain her license. There she was found trying to poison a patient named Davis, who did this after replacing the trainee nurse. An investigation was conducted and many patients with similar symptoms were found. One had died, but it was discovered that it was due to her incompetence, not malicious intent. No one therefore reported it to the police, instead being fired and blacklisted from hospital work.
Hospital work was not a must for a serial killer, so Jane returned to private nursing, a job that paid well but lacked steady pay. But working as a privateer allowed Jane to do whatever she wanted because there was no one to watch her and no one to report to. Over the next few years Jane became one of the most successful private nurses in Boston. Along with that, she also transformed into a very dangerous assassin.
She drinks beer when she’s not working; telling dirty jokes; gossiping madly; Friends beat each other and enjoyed it. But doctors and their patients found her a highly skilled professional, compassionate and pleasant.
Nurses at the time earned an average of $5 a week, while Jane Toppan earned $25 a week.
From 1880 to 1901, Toppan served as a private nurse. New England is a six-state region in the northeastern United States. In New England where Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont join, she worked for many families throughout these regions, earning their respect and trust.
Israel Dunham was one of the older ones. He was a patient. Jane started coming to their house to nurse him. He had a weak heart, so she knew that if he died of heart disease, no one would suspect it. She killed him on May 26, 1895, at the age of 83, with knowledge of her medication (probably given atropine). She then cared for Dunham’s wife, Lovely Dunham, for 2 years. She also lost 87-year-old Lovely Dunham on September 19, 1897. She later killed several elderly patients. In it, after a patient is murdered, his family contacts a doctor in town, who suspects that Jane has stolen some clothes from their grandmother’s house after her death, but the doctor defends Jane,
In August 1899, Jane went on vacation to a rented cottage on Cape Cod, a cottage she had vacationed at for years. But this time she invited Elizabeth (daughter of Anne Toppan) to join her. Elizabeth was delighted; She was very fond of Jane and Elizabeth was looking forward to spending some time with her. But she didn’t know that Jane hated her. Jane always despised her. When they were both children, their mother, Anne Toppen, spoke in a way that made it clear that Elizabeth Toppen was the real daughter and that she had a place in the house. But Elizabeth did not keep that distinction in mind. For Jane, Elizabeth was the cause of her missed fortunes. Jane decided to eliminate Elizabeth for this reason, although there was not one cent of truth in it. There was another reason for that. Jane had an eye on Elizabeth’s husband.
A few days after Elizabeth’s arrival at Jane’s cottage, Oramel, her husband, receives a telegram from Jane. The content was that Elizabeth was not well. He immediately approached his wife. She was in a coma then. About apoplectic stroke (apoplectic stroke: a nonspecific, older term for cerebrovascular accident with hemorrhage). Doctors gave him doubts. The next day she died in the presence of her husband and Jane. The venomous snake raised by milk became Elizabeth’s messenger of death.
After Elizabeth’s death, Jane felt it was time for the next move. For many years Jane was friends with Myra Connors, matron of St John’s Theological School, Cambridge. No one understood that it had a purpose.
Life as a freelance nurse was tough. But Myra’s job was more pleasant. They had an apartment, a maid, and a steady salary. This is what attracted Jane. She wanted to get the job somehow. After Jane’s friendly visit, Myra, who had problems with peritonitis (the peritoneum is a lining of the abdomen, can become infected for a number of reasons and can be fatal if not treated in time), was bedridden, and Myra, who had planned to go on a vacation, died soon after. Before she died, Myra informed Dean that Jane was the best person to pass her work to. Accordingly, Dean offered the job to Jane. Jenn convinces Dean that he is taking the job out of “obligation” to his friend. But the dean asked her to resign after a year due to her lax attitude towards finances and her lack of experience in management. For Jane this was a great blow to a man so convinced of his own superiority.
The cottage where she killed Elizabeth was owned by Alden Davis and his wife Mattie. She returned and moved there. From 1896 they rented it to Jane. Because they liked Jane, they gave it to her for a low rent. After the events of 1899 (Elizabeth’s death at the cottage), they didn’t buy the rent because they didn’t feel right asking her for that year’s rent. The following year, in 1900, Jane asked for leave because she had no money to pay the rent. But when Jane refused to pay again, Matty Davis decided to go to Boston and meet her in person and ask for the money.
When Mattie arrived, Jane gave her a glass of water laced with morphine; With that, she put Matty in a room to rest. There, Jane gave Matty another dose by injection, which resulted in Matty falling into a coma. The doctor came and examined him. Jane informed the doctor that Mattie had eaten a piece of cake when she came home. She also told the doctor that Mattie had diabetes. So the doctor had no doubts. The doctor leaves Mattie with Jane. Jane spends a week experimenting with drugs and wild pleasures in Matty; Matty’s chapter ended with a final dose when he was exhausted.
Undeterred, Davis and his 2 daughters asked Jane to stay as their guest for a while.
Jane, who stayed with them for a few days, killed a daughter, Genevieve, with arsenic. Genevieve’s official cause of death was recorded as “heart disease”. Two weeks later, the elderly Davis Alden “died of grief over the death of his daughter” by Jane’s morphine administration. Unwilling to stop playing even there, Jane gave her next daughter, Minnie, morphine four days later. Minnie, who did not die from the first dose, was given the second dose by enema. The doctors were really surprised. The death of an entire family within a month was remarkable, and many newspapers wrote articles about the “unfortunate Davis family.”
But none of them suspected that there was a black hand behind all this at that time. But Minnie’s father-in-law, Captain Paul Gibbs, began to have his doubts.
He also liked Jane. But as he looked back on the events of the past month, he realized the possibility that Jane had done some questionable things. Doctor ‘Ira Cushing’ was also sure something was up. They decided to get together and do something. They approached someone for it. It was Leonard Wood, the US military governor.
Leonard Wood, the US military governor of Cuba at the time, studied medicine and began his career in the army as a surgeon, but fought in the Spanish-American War, became a general, and later became governor of Cuba. Minnie’s aunt and uncle, Captain Paul Gibbs, visits an old family friend, Leonard Woods. Leonard had the medical connections and the means to conduct a full investigation.
Unaware of this investigation, Jane visited Elizabeth’s husband, Oramel Brigham. Within three days, she killed 77-year-old Edna Bannister, Brigham’s sister and housekeeper. She took over from Edna, and Oramel tried to impress Brigham with her housekeeping skills. Brigham made it clear that he did not want her as a housekeeper or wife. Her goal was to get into his mind. But he didn’t mind her. So she first gave him a small dose of morphine, which made him sick. After that, he sat next to him like a savior. But when none of those sleight-of-hand techniques worked for him, she moved on to the next level. She injected herself with a self-administered dose of morphine to perform a suicidal act. That’s how she ended up in the hospital.
As part of the investigation, the detective who is following her is admitted with her, feigning illness to get hospital information.
Returning Jane Oramel threatened Brigham. The next allegation was that he had sexually abused her. He kicked her out of the house because it was not the time. (If it were today, like Sarita Nair, Swapna Suresh and Amber Heid, Jane would have been a saint and Oramal would have been released)
He and Jane went to visit an old friend named Sarah Nichols in New Hampshire. Luckily for Sarah at this point, Minnie Gibbs’ (Minnie Davis) body is exhumed and an autopsy reveals traces of poison. It was all too soon after that. The police arrested Jane. Jane had killed many of her friends, so Sarah Nichols’ escape was through a rope bridge. Although Jane was only arrested for the murder of Minnie Gibbs, the press quickly realized that was only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the Davis family died under mysterious circumstances that definitely needed answers.
Newspapers were all over the place. What followed was a flurry of surprise and rumours. Elizabeth’s death was published daily by the newspapers in the most colorful stories they could. Jane wrote that she was addicted to morphine and that she only drank coffee for breakfast. Jane wanted her name not to appear in the press, but with such a large killing spree, no one could stop the media.
However, it was difficult to establish the case in court so easily. First, Davis’ death was certified by the family doctor as a heart attack. Secondly, arsenic was found in the post-mortems of Minnie and Janniva. But Jane gave Janeway arsenic but not Minnie. So how did arsenic get into Minnie’s body? That inquiry was on the autopsy table itself. Because the arsenic came from the embalming fluid at that time. The defendant was made to argue that it came naturally and Janniva’s like that.
Captain Paul Gibbs, Minnie’s husband’s father, gave a newspaper interview as the prosecution continued unsuccessfully. A reporter from the Boston Journal asked him about the arsenic found in the bodies.
Captain Gibbs was surprised. “I don’t think Jane Toppan used anything as easily detectable as arsenic,” he said.
(Arsenic is commonly used in rat poison, etc. “ Widowmaker Syndicate ( Angel Makers of Nagyrév)” is described in the article. Meanwhile, Arsenic comes into the story – giving Jane to Janeva to kill herself. The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to a professional assassin is something related to their field of activity. Conal Doyle tells this same pattern many times in the Sherlock Holmes stories. The story of Two Ears in the Post describes how ears are sent in the post with salt to prevent them from going bad, and if a medical student had been doing it, the first thing that would have come to mind would have been carbolic acid or distilled spirits. In another story, Black Peter, Holmes questions whether anyone but sailors would drink rum when there is whiskey and brandy. All of these may be related to the work the offenders do and other activities,
Even more than the prosecutors knew, the captain surely knew that Jane was a very clever and talented pharmacologist. He had almost figured out what she was using. According to him, she used a mixture of morphine and atropine. He understood that if these two poisons are used together, the physical effects of both will cancel each other out. He also noted that Jane owed Davis rent, and that $500 was missing from Davis’ pocket at the time of his death. This gave prosecutors the option to file a stronger charge of incitement.
The newspapers did not retreat there either. They went after Jane’s stories again. They called Myra Connors’ death a staged murder for Jane’s financial gain. That case was also added to her list.
The Boston Herald brought up the next issue. They introduced a woman named Janet Snow. Janet was Jane’s cousin. Janet recounts the history of “Kelly the Crack,” Jane’s childhood abuse, and Jane’s sister Nellie’s psychosis. Taken together, these essays assert that society has labeled Jane as insane beyond being a nurse who murders for material gain.
These unexpected turns changed the structure of the case. There was a demand from many sections of the society that Jane should be examined for her mental condition before being accused. Many wealthy men who had not been sentenced to death at Jane’s hands spoke for her. They corresponded for her. They could not believe that she was guilty.
Meanwhile, proving the death of Minnie Gipps was difficult. Meanwhile, there was another turn in the case. Although the prosecution could not show any evidence that Jane had bought arsenic, there was evidence that she had bought morphine. On top of that, the fact that the murders were carried out using a mixture of morphine and atropine, something only a seasoned professional could do, was enough to put Jane on the hook.
But in 1902 Dr. Henry Stedman, Dr. George Jelley, Dr. and Hosea Quinby were appointed to examine Jane’s sanity.
At first Jane was skeptical, but soon she began to speak naturally. Doctors quickly recognized her pathological addiction to lying. She confessed to all of the murders in that conversation and in subsequent test observations. She revealed 31 murders. She had her own justifications for every murder, and she didn’t regret any of it. Her revelations were chilling even for doctors despite their experience.
and the habit of sleeping with victims; And when she revealed the sexual thrill she got from watching them die, it was unlike anything the doctors had ever seen, heard, or learned about. Only male psychopaths were previously known to have committed serial murders for sex.
Jane knew what she was doing was wrong, so she could not escape trial on the grounds that she was mentally ill, but even so, all three doctors described her as “morally insane,” the then-current term for mental illness. Hence the report stated that she would never recover from this disease and that she was unfit to stand trial.
There was therefore no need for a trial, but since there had never been a case like this in the United States, and since no serial killer had ever gone before a jury, the state attorney general decided to hold a trial to prevent all mental illness cases from continuing to be dismissed. As a result, the jury sent her to a mental institution for life.
During the trial, she told Dr. Stedman’s report screamed “He’s lying! I’m not crazy! … I know what I did was wrong! I understand right and wrong! That proves me sane!”
In addition to the eleven murders the police were investigating, she had already disclosed to her lawyer the murders she had committed while studying at nursing college. He released this information after her conviction. The press then gave her the guise of a savior. She has been portrayed as the greatest poisoner in history. A few days after the trial, the New York Journal published her “terrifying confession.” While giving evidence at trial, psychiatrists withheld more salient details, but the New York Journal went into them in detail. So those articles were more factual. Those facts painted Jane as a bigger monster than anyone suspected.
She was housed at Taunton State Hospital, where she was a model patient. During the last few years at the shelter, Jane enjoyed it. In those days the “lunatic asylum” was a very bad place. It was the case that “it takes nothing to make someone insane in an insane asylum.”
She then developed manic depression. So it led her to strange thoughts. By 1904 she had become completely insane. So she started not eating anything, fearing that someone would poison her food. Rumors spread that she had died at this time. But she was not dead.
Later she said to some of the staff and companions, “Get some morphine, dear, let’s go to the ward. Seeing them die will give you and me a lot of joy.”
She had always carried murder as an obsession. Jane Toppan finally died in 1938 at the age of eighty-one.
Jane Toppan’s story has inspired many movies. Biographies were also written. Jane also has a role as one of the murderers in Anne Bertram’s play ‘Murderess’.