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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jane Toppan was a nurse who was known to have said she hoped to kill more people than any woman or man who had ever lived. She gained her access to innocent helpless victims as she called them bu being employed as a private nurse in Boston, Massachusetts. 

These many employers did not know of her mother's tragic death when Janie was just a young girl or of her father's subsequent insanity, which impelled him to stitch his own eyelids together. They weren't aware of Jane's own suicide attempts, or the unnerving interest she displayed during her nursing years at Cambridge College, where her odd fascination with autopsies troubled even her supervisors.

Briefly stabilizing during 1880, Jane signed on as a student nurse at a hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Once again, she excelled in her class work, but supervisors and colleagues were disturbed by her obsession with autopsies. Dismissed after two patients died mysteriously in her care, she left the hospital without her certificate, forging the paperwork necessary to find work as a private nurse. Over the next two decades, she was hired by dozens of New England families, caring for the ill and elderly in several states, but few of Toppan's patients managed to survive her "special" treatment

In the early months of 1901 Jane worked for the Davis family of whom Mattie Davis was known to be a friend of Ms. Toppan. They subsequently began dying off like an Egyptian plague. With all the angelic and heroic attempts that Jane attempted to bring comfort to each of the sickly clan with her "injections" it was not use and only the patriarch Alden survived. When Mary, his daughter passed under Jane's care he demanded an autopsy. This triggered Ms.Toppan's flight out of state. Soon the reason was too clear..morphine. The Angel of Mercy had gently put her charges to sleep..forever

 Jane was not finished, yet. Before her arrest in Amherst, New Hampshire, on October 29, she fed a lethal "tonic" to her foster sister, Edna Bannister, and she was working on another patient when police cut short her medical career. 

In custody, Toppan confessed to 31 murders, naming her victims, but students believe her final tally falls somewhere between 70 and 100 victims. No accurate list of her hospital victims was ever compiled, and various New England families avoided the scandal by refusing official requests for exhumations and autopsies. At trial, Jane's lawyer grudgingly conceded eleven murders, staking his hopes on a plea of insanity. Toppan cinched the case with her own testimony, telling the court, "That is my ambition, to have killed more people -- more helpless people -- than any man or woman who has ever lived." 

Declared insane, Toppan was confined for life to the state asylum at Taunton, Massachusetts, where she died in August 1938, at age 84. She was remembered by her keepers as "a quiet old lady," but older attendants remembered her smile as she beckoned them into her room. "Get some morphine, dearie," she would say, "and we'll go out in the ward. You and I will have a lot of fun seeing them die."


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