Jolly Jane, The Infamous Serial Killing Nurse

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Jane Toppan holds one hell of a body count. She originally confessed to killing 31, but the woman later confided in her attorney that her true death count was more along the lines of 100. Still, it’s not Jane’s body count which makes her stand out among the others, but her modus operandi makes Jane truly unique.

Jolly Jane Toppan. I’m sure most of you have heard of Jane Toppan, the serial killing nurse from the late 1800’s; how much do you really know about her?

Miss Toppan had been a very cheerful person who nobody would’ve believed capable of harming a fly, yet she loved to poison her victims; their deaths would not have been very swift. Homicide had definitely been sexually exhilarating for Jane; as her victim was dying she would crawl into their death beds and sexually assault them. Jane molested these people as they took their very last breath; just think on that for a moment, imagine the terror her prey must’ve felt when they realized what’s going on and that they were powerless to stop her.

Jane, who’s birth name was Honora Kelley, had spent some time in an institution as a very young child. Mental illness ran in her genes; Jane’s abusive, alcoholic biological father, Peter Kelly had been bat shit crazy, he once even sewed his own eyes shut. Since Jane’s birth mother, Bridget, had passed away from tuberculosis and her father had been incapable of caring for his two daughters, a 6 year old Jane was surrendered to the Boston Female Asylum. A couple of years later the Toppan family fostered her, but Jane had not been welcomed into her new family because they wanted to love and care for a child. The family already had one beloved daughter; Jane had been needed merely as a slave. While her adopted sister, Elizabeth, was dearly loved and given everything her little heart desired, Jane had been nothing more than the Toppan family’s indentured servant. As far as Jane’s biological sister, it’s said that she went on to become a woman of the night.

Unable to find a husband as a young woman and create the family she’d always wanted, in 1885 Jane began to train as a nurse at Cambridge hospital. She had been known as cheerful, happy, and attentive; everyone just adored her. But Jane’s exuberance had been a facade, a mask which covered the woman’s dark side. This hospital became her killing grounds, and she murdered many patients with different drugs.

Image of Jane at trial

Jane started off by conducting her experiment with different medications on rats, but you know that killing animals never quenches a budding killer’s thirsts for long. She had been employed at a couple of hospitals, but was let go for too freely administering narcotics and/or petty theft; from here she began to work as a home nurse. In 1885 Jane killed her landlord and his wife; in 1889 she cared for her own ailing foster sister, Elizabeth. Though the two woman had cared for one another, that hadn’t stopped Jane from killing her sister; it was later deemed that Elizabeth had passed away from strychnine poisoning.

Jane as a young woman

In 1901 Jane was hired to care for the Davis family. Very quickly Mrs. Mattie Davis passed away; within months Mattie’s husband, Alden, was deceased as well – but that’s not all! Alden’s sister, Genevieve, and even his daughters, Edna and Minnie had all perished. The surviving family was like woah, hold up, wait a minute! Something is really wrong here! Minnie had been young and healthy as a horse, there had been absolutely no reason for her to pass! The remaining fam demanded autopsies be conducted, and it was deemed that the cause of the Davis family’s deaths had been morphine and atropine. When she realized the jig was up, Jane ran to Boston but she was quickly captured; she promptly confessed to 31 murders.

Jolly Jane was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the remainder of her life in the loony bin; she lived to the ripe old age of 81. This serial killer had been adamant that she had been been mentally ill, and that she’d known precisely what she was doing; Jane would’ve much rather gone to prison where she would someday stand a chance at parole, a chance to someday kill again.

My desire is to kill more people, more desperate people, from every man and every woman who has ever lived to this day.

Jane Toppan

Jane claimed that while she had been sexually turned on by murder, her motivation had been science; the nurse had wanted to know the effects of different drug dosages on the nervous system. This killer also stated that unlikely she would have ever harmed a soul had she obtained that family she had always longed for, a husband and children to love. She’d just wanted someone to love, no one had ever loved her.

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