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July 5, 1902

JANE TOPPAN, THE POISONER.

JAMA. 1902;XXXIX(1):23. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.02480270027009

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Abstract

The conviction and confession of the trained nurse, Jane Toppan, in Massachusetts, adds another to the notable cases of human crime. In fact, it stands alone in some respects; there is no closely parallel case. This woman, who seems to have had the confidence of both physicians and patients during her career, enumerates thirty-one individuals whom she has poisoned while under her professional care, and mentions still others in whom her attempt was unsuccessful. That this woman should have passed for a model nurse, showing most, if not all, the good qualities of such a functionary, apparently loyal and reliable, and kind and attentive to those whose murder she was plotting, seems incomprehensible, but it is psychologically possible, as every one with extended experience with morbid mentality can testify. Homicidal impulses can exist with the most perfect apparent amiability, though this case is unique in some of its features. It

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