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America's First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan w/ Mary Kay McBrayer

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station description Serial killers. Gangsters. Gunslingers. Victorian-era murderers. And that's just th... read more
Most Notorious! A True Crime History Podcast
Duration: 01:03:33
Somehow Jane Toppan managed to skirt through the first half of her life murdering people at will, before finally being caught and committed to an insane asylum in 1901. Her nursing background made her an expert with drugs, and she used that expertise to kill over thirty people, often torturing them
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Somehow Jane Toppan managed to skirt through the first half of her life murdering people at will, before finally being caught and committed to an insane asylum in 1901. Her nursing background made her an expert with drugs, and she used that expertise to kill over thirty people, often torturing them by purposely prolonging their suffering. My guest is Mary Kay McBrayer, and she shares some stories about Jane's nefarious activities from her book: "America's First Serial Killer: Jane Toppan and the Making of a Monster." You can find more information about Mary Kay, her book, and the podcast she hosts, called "Everything Trying to Kill You", at https://www.marykaymcbrayer.com .
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patients, and largely what she did was like custodial work. So on top of the nursing duty. So it was a really hard job. I mean, you could make good money doing it, but it was long hours and hard work. And then she was like, Well, I'm going to do private nursing then because you can Everyone loves me, which they did. All of the doctors were obsessed with her. I'm not. Not in a gross way, but they were just like, no, put Jane, I'm with with me because she knows what she's doing. Her patients were scared of her, and they kept reporting her for good reason. And she's like, I'll just be a private nurse then. And she took all of her character references and would would work kind of in homes with not not exactly hospice care, but similar to that, like when the elderly got sick, she would she would work and she would live and work in their homes. If that makes sense. Sure, that was kind of the next step. Career wise, right? Why were her patients frightened of her? So in the hospital she was overheard by several nurses saying and this is actually documented, that the complaints are that there was no point in keeping elderly people alive, and so her the nurses would over here that and her patients would over here it and that. I mean, they would report it because they were they were scared and then, which is totally understandable and reasonable. And they also were afraid of her because, well, a lot of her patients died. And, like granted, based on the on the circumstances, we were just talking about, Ah, lot of patients died in hospitals for other reasons. But I like a lot of hers died and then I don't want to go into too much detail about Amelia Finney. But she's basically what you know, sealed the case against Jane because she was a surviving victim, which I think she may not have been the only one, but she was the only one that testified, which I just feel like is a big heroic move to, because this is like the Victorian era for someone. Thio. I mean, it's hard enough now, right to come forward and say like, Oh, this terrible thing happened to me when people would blame you for it. But, like in the Victorian time, that was you had to be very strong to do that. I think so. That's what they were scared of her. Yeah. What did she accuse Jane of doing to her? So she didn't actually accuse her of anything? Because, I mean, it's sort of like what we were seeing and are seeing now, Um, you can't un say something, like, if you accuse someone, you have to really double down on it and be ready to go all in. So she didn't never She didn't do that until much later. When other people or really When, um, the detectives arrested her, uh, much later, after the entire Davis family died on. Then she came forward and she was like, Oh, yeah, she's my nursing. This crazy thing happened, but basically what happened is, um she came into the hospital for an ulcer to be removed on her uterus, and she was understandably in a lot of pain. And Jane, um, this was kind of her m o. She administered morphine, which we still even use it now, right for extreme pain. But what Jane would do is overdose her patients on morphine and get them very close to death. And then she would bring them back or try to bring them back with a trap in. So it was a very morbid and disgusting scientific experiment on people who are meals, torture. She tortured them basically. Or actually she tortured them and and she tricked a lot of the doctors because, you know, they would have seizures or stroke or heart failure, and the doctors would come in and and the side effects for morphine and a trap in our opposite, so they couldn't tell what had happened to the patient. And that's essentially what happened to Amelia Thinni. So she got Jane gave her something to drink, which is part of her emotional, put it in mineral water because mineral waters bitter so it would disguise the effect of are not disguise the effect, the disguise, the taste of atropine and more morphine. And and it wasn't always orally administered. Sometimes she would inject them if they were already unconscious, etcetera, or Animas is what she did later on, which is even more disturbing. But then she would observe the effects of of the morphine and the A trip in and how they interacted with one another as the patient was going in and out of consciousness undocumented, and Amelia Finney kind of realized what was happening, and she she was like, No, I'm not going to take any more medicine. And she remembered Jane getting into bed with her and like, laying there with her and molesting her while she couldn't move because she was overdosed. So that's what Amelia Finney testified. And that's essentially because she was one of the only surviving victims, even though they had plenty of evidence that she was killing people, that that's one of the main things that, like the testimonies that sealed her.
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