Now You're Afraid of the Dark

Molly // Anthony // Bizarre

Though very little records survive of Toppan’s early years, it is known that her parents were Irish immigrants, and her mother, Bridget Kelley, died of tuberculosis when she was very young. Her father, Peter Kelley, was well known as an alcoholic. In later years Kelley would become the source of many local rumors concerning his supposed insanity, the most popular of which being that his madness finally drove him to sew his own eyelids closed while working as a tailor.
In 1863, only a few years after his wife’s death, Kelley brought his two youngest children, the eight-year-old Delia Josephine and six-year-old Honora, to the Boston Female Asylum. Kelley surrendered the two young girls, never to see them again.
No records of Delia and Honora’s experiences during their time in the asylum exist, but in less than two years, in November 1864, Honora Kelley was placed as an indentured servant in the home of Mrs. Ann C. Toppan of Lowell, Massachusetts. Though never formally adopted by the Toppans, Honora took on the surname of her benefactors and eventually became known as Jane Toppan.
In 1885, Toppan began training to be a nurse at Cambridge Hospital. During her residency, she used her patients as guinea pigs in experiments with morphine and atropine; she would alter their prescribed dosages to see what it did to their nervous systems. However, she would spend a lot of time alone with those patients, making up fake charts and medicating them to drift in and out of consciousness and even get into bed with them. It is not known whether any sexual activity went on when her victims were in this state but when Jane Toppan was asked after her arrest, she answered that she derived a sexual thrill from patients being near death, coming back to life and then dying again.
She began her poisoning spree in earnest in 1895 by killing her landlords. In 1899, she killed her foster sister Elizabeth with a dose of strychnine.
In 1901, Toppan moved in with the elderly Alden Davis and his family in Cataumet to take care of him after the death of his wife (whom Toppan herself had murdered). Within weeks, she killed Davis and two of his daughters. The surviving members of the Davis family ordered a toxicology exam on Alden Davis’ youngest daughter. The report found that she had been poisoned, and local authorities put a police detail on Toppan. On October 26, 1901, she was arrested for murder.
By 1902, she had confessed to 31 murders. On June 23, in the Barnstable County Courthouse, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed for life in the Taunton Insane Hospital.

Though very little records survive of Toppan’s early years, it is known that her parents were Irish immigrants, and her mother, Bridget Kelley, died of tuberculosis when she was very young. Her father, Peter Kelley, was well known as an alcoholic. In later years Kelley would become the source of many local rumors concerning his supposed insanity, the most popular of which being that his madness finally drove him to sew his own eyelids closed while working as a tailor.

In 1863, only a few years after his wife’s death, Kelley brought his two youngest children, the eight-year-old Delia Josephine and six-year-old Honora, to the Boston Female Asylum. Kelley surrendered the two young girls, never to see them again.

No records of Delia and Honora’s experiences during their time in the asylum exist, but in less than two years, in November 1864, Honora Kelley was placed as an indentured servant in the home of Mrs. Ann C. Toppan of Lowell, Massachusetts. Though never formally adopted by the Toppans, Honora took on the surname of her benefactors and eventually became known as Jane Toppan.

In 1885, Toppan began training to be a nurse at Cambridge Hospital. During her residency, she used her patients as guinea pigs in experiments with morphine and atropine; she would alter their prescribed dosages to see what it did to their nervous systems. However, she would spend a lot of time alone with those patients, making up fake charts and medicating them to drift in and out of consciousness and even get into bed with them. It is not known whether any sexual activity went on when her victims were in this state but when Jane Toppan was asked after her arrest, she answered that she derived a sexual thrill from patients being near death, coming back to life and then dying again.

She began her poisoning spree in earnest in 1895 by killing her landlords. In 1899, she killed her foster sister Elizabeth with a dose of strychnine.

In 1901, Toppan moved in with the elderly Alden Davis and his family in Cataumet to take care of him after the death of his wife (whom Toppan herself had murdered). Within weeks, she killed Davis and two of his daughters. The surviving members of the Davis family ordered a toxicology exam on Alden Davis’ youngest daughter. The report found that she had been poisoned, and local authorities put a police detail on Toppan. On October 26, 1901, she was arrested for murder.

By 1902, she had confessed to 31 murders. On June 23, in the Barnstable County Courthouse, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed for life in the Taunton Insane Hospital.

The English Yew, or taxus baccata (“taxus” meaning toxin), is one of the deadliest trees on the planet. The evergreen has a majestic and lush appearance and is fairly common in forests of Europe. The yew is considered by scientists to be an odd and primitive conifer along with the monkey puzzle tree of Chile and Gingko biloba tree of Asia. The yew has a rather sad history. All parts – save for the flesh of the berries – are extremely poisonous. Because the toxin causes convulsions and paralysis, it was once used as an abortifacient. Apothecaries would dry and powder the leaves and stems and give desperate women minute amounts in the days before birth control was available. Unfortunately, death would often result. The yew has been quite popular throughout history for a number of medicinal purposes at extremely dilute levels, but it is deemed too dangerous in modern medical practice to be of use. The yew’s primary toxin is taxine, a cardiac depressant. The yew acts rapidly and there is no antidote.Source. 

The English Yew, or taxus baccata (“taxus” meaning toxin), is one of the deadliest trees on the planet. The evergreen has a majestic and lush appearance and is fairly common in forests of Europe. The yew is considered by scientists to be an odd and primitive conifer along with the monkey puzzle tree of Chile and Gingko biloba tree of Asia. The yew has a rather sad history. All parts – save for the flesh of the berries – are extremely poisonous. Because the toxin causes convulsions and paralysis, it was once used as an abortifacient. Apothecaries would dry and powder the leaves and stems and give desperate women minute amounts in the days before birth control was available. Unfortunately, death would often result. The yew has been quite popular throughout history for a number of medicinal purposes at extremely dilute levels, but it is deemed too dangerous in modern medical practice to be of use. The yew’s primary toxin is taxine, a cardiac depressant. The yew acts rapidly and there is no antidote.
Source. 

At an early age, Graham Young had been fascinated with chemistry, particularly types of poison and their effects on people. His other great interest was idolizing murderers such as Dr. Hawley Crippen, William Palmer, Adolf Hitler and others. Young started experimenting with poisons when he was 14. He usually lied about his age, and explained that a given poison was for a school experiment so he could buy the chemicals he needed. His family and friends were his victims. His father, upon becoming ill, originally thought he just had a virus of some sort. Then the apparent illness struck his wife and daughter. All suffered from continuous vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains. In 1962, the mother of Young’s stepmother died from poisoning.
At 14, Young already had the expertise of a postgraduate chemistry student, all self-learned through library books. He sometimes became a victim of his own poisoning when he forgot on which foods he had placed his toxic chemicals. Young was caught when his teacher inspected his desk one evening after school, suspicious about the odd experiments Young was suggesting to the class. The teacher found poisons, essays about famous prisoners, and sketches of dying men. These revelations led him to call the police. Young was sent to a maximum security hospital, but this did not stop him from poisoning hospital staff and fellow inmates (one of whom died). His knowledge was so broad that he could extract cyanide from laurel bush leaves. Young was released when he was 23 and went to live with his sister. His poisoning spree continued—his victims most often were coworkers. Young was sent back to prison and eventually died there.

At an early age, Graham Young had been fascinated with chemistry, particularly types of poison and their effects on people. His other great interest was idolizing murderers such as Dr. Hawley Crippen, William Palmer, Adolf Hitler and others. Young started experimenting with poisons when he was 14. He usually lied about his age, and explained that a given poison was for a school experiment so he could buy the chemicals he needed. His family and friends were his victims. His father, upon becoming ill, originally thought he just had a virus of some sort. Then the apparent illness struck his wife and daughter. All suffered from continuous vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains. In 1962, the mother of Young’s stepmother died from poisoning.

At 14, Young already had the expertise of a postgraduate chemistry student, all self-learned through library books. He sometimes became a victim of his own poisoning when he forgot on which foods he had placed his toxic chemicals. Young was caught when his teacher inspected his desk one evening after school, suspicious about the odd experiments Young was suggesting to the class. The teacher found poisons, essays about famous prisoners, and sketches of dying men. These revelations led him to call the police. Young was sent to a maximum security hospital, but this did not stop him from poisoning hospital staff and fellow inmates (one of whom died). His knowledge was so broad that he could extract cyanide from laurel bush leaves. Young was released when he was 23 and went to live with his sister. His poisoning spree continued—his victims most often were coworkers. Young was sent back to prison and eventually died there.